One of the key issues the author raises is this. Does your church want to do ministry to your community, or do you want to do ministry with your community? Ministry to your community will result in primarily relief ministries -- and little individual or community transformation. Ministry with your community will focus on community transformation. The former is much easier than the latter.
Doing community transformation with a community, at a minimum requires:
- Developing and sharing vision WITH the people in your community -- even the ones who don't go to or like your church.
- Becoming PART of the community. Your church members need to live intentionally in the community you want to reach. Your church needs to function as a genuine part of the neighborhood -- not just as the owner of land and buildings that happen to be located in the neighborhood. The people in the community need to have a sense that you are part of them -- they need to have a sense of "community" with your church.
- Sharing ownership with the neighborhood of the projects and ministries you are involved in. If there is no ownership -- there will be no permanent change.
Perhaps this is why even though hundreds of churches are planted across the USA every year, we really see little genuine community transformation. Most churches have a vision for individual transformation, not community transformation -- and those churches that do want to see their communities transformed are ministering TO -- not WITH.
If you have influence in your church, and you have a heart for community transformation, I HIGHLY recommend this book.