Many of our communities have been neglected and left to deteriorate for decades. Sadly, the church of Jesus Christ has at best sat back and watched this happen. In many areas, it has even contributed to the problem. A new generation of Christians are faced with a question about how they will respond to the troubles of the poor and under-resourced communities today. The desperate conditions that face the poor call for a revolution in the church’s approach to the problem.Through years of experience among the poor, many have come to see that these desperate problems cannot be solved without strong commitment and risky actions on the part of ordinary Christians with heroic faith.
Go to the people,
Live among them,
Learn from them,
Start with what they know,
Build on what they have:
But of the best leaders, When their task is done,
The people will remark, “We have done it ourselves.”
[Ancient Chinese Proverb]
There have been many attempts by “outsiders” to alleviate the problems, but most have fallen short of lasting change. Rather, the most creative long-term solutions to the problems of the poor are coming from grassroots and church-based efforts. The solutions are coming from people who see themselves as the replacements, the agents, for Jesus here on earth, in their own neighborhoods and communities.
This philosophy is known as Christian Community Development, which is not a concept that was developed in a classroom, nor formulated by people foreign to the poor community. These are Biblical, practical principles evolved from years of living and working among the poor. CCDA pioneer, John Perkins, first developed this philosophy while working among the poor in Mississippi.
Over the last forty years, practitioners of Christian Community Development have distilled the philosophy into 8 Key Components. The first three are based on John Perkins’ original “three R’s” of community development: relocation, reconciliation and redistribution. Other components were later added by Christians discovering ways to rebuild poor neighborhoods.