Volume 33, No. 20
The Christian Community Development Association was in Dallas this year. Last week, a thousand fellow organizers and activists gathered downtown to spend a couple of days worshiping, networking, and learning from experienced practitioners. The CCDA is a network of Christians committed to seeing people and communities holistically restored through economic, racial, and social justice. The first phrase on their website is, “Many of us have a deep sense that the world is not as it should be.” With many communities broken by poverty, racism, and violence, I think their assessment is correct. It was a hopeful experience to see many young and passionate evangelicals working to bring compassion, empowerment, and wholeness to divided and hurting cities.
One of the workshops I attended was called “Organizing Your Church to Engage Your Community.” This popular workshop crammed 68 people in a room with a posted sign that informed us of a maximum occupancy of 41. The teacher was a practitioner from Brooklyn who lives in an underprivileged neighborhood and ministers in a vibrant and involved church. His main question for us was “Where is the church?” Where is the church when children are gunned down in our streets and schools? Where is the church when houses don’t have clean water? Where is the church when neighbors don’t have electricity? Communities need for people in the church to show up.
The presenter referenced the books of John M. Perkins, an activist and author, who said that home is where we invest in our own future, but also in the futures of our neighbors and neighborhoods. I know that many of us consider Royal Lane home. And if this church is indeed our home, we must do more than invest in ourselves. We must show up. We must empower our neighbors and bring hope to our communities. To do that, we need to consider two questions: What are you good at that you can give to the city to make it a better place and what is our neighborhood’s perception of Royal Lane? I think if we truly ponder those questions we might be surprised, but also spurred to action. So, let us show up and be the spirit-filled people that God can use to improve and change our city.