Saturday, July 19, 2008

Community Transformation

I have just read a couple of books (Externally Fucused Church, The Intentional Church, and the Church of Irresistable Influence. on how churches can have an impact on the community. Two things stand out to me that are in contrast to the approach we are taking at Woodland. First, there is an emphasis on how to get people assimilated into the church events instead of empowering the church to be brought to life in the mist of the neighborhoods. Therefore, the image is that church is something at the center and ministry in the neighborhood is separate from the "real" church. This seems to fall short of an incarnational model of church life. 

The second thing is that the ministries in the neighborhoods are programmatically driven. The imagination is about how a church can develop (or work with external programs) programs to meet needs in the context. This seems to be driven by the center of the church organization instead of something that arises out of the context. The church sets the table "for" instead of "with" those in the context. It seems that the church has had such a long history of approaching those outside the church in a monologue that we don't know how to enter dialogue. 

This programmatic approach can bring transformation, but it seems to me that in our pluralistic, high change society makes it nearly impossible to develop programs that actually meet needs. The only way is to empower grass-root experiments that develop and grow from the ground up. If this is what these books mean, then I missed the point. But if it is what they mean they should have made it more obvious. 

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