Too often communities are developed by outsiders that bring in resources without taking into account the community itself. Christian Community Development is committed to listening to residents and hearing their dreams, ideas and thoughts. This is often referred to as the “felt need” concept. Listening is most important, as the people of the community are the vested treasures of the future.
It is important not to focus on the weaknesses or needs of a community. The felt need concept helps us as community developers to focus on the desires of the community residents. The priority is the thoughts and dreams of the community itself. What the people themselves believe should be the focus. Asset-based community development focuses on the assets of a community and building upon them. When fused together through Christian Community Development, they can have extremely positive results.
Every community has assets, but often these are neglected. When a ministry utilizes Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD), it names all of the assets in the community that helps the community see its many positive characteristics. It is through these assets that people develop their community.
Christian Community Development realistically points out, through community meetings and efforts, some of the areas that people in the community would like to see improved. The areas to be focused upon are not looked at from some outside group or some demographic study that is laid upon the community. Instead, it is the community members themselves that decide on areas for growth.
After a community has decided where they want to focus some of their attention, it is then directed to the means with which they themselves can bring this about. What qualities, talents, and abilities does the community have that can help solve these problems? The focus is on the community members seeing themselves as the solution, not some government program or outside group that is going to be their salvation.
It is essential for community leaders to help the community focus on maximizing their strengths and abilities to make a difference. The philosophy of Christian Community Development believes that the people with the problem have the best solutions and opportunities to solve those problems. Christian Community Development affirms the dignity of individuals and encourages the engagement of the community to use their own resources and assets to bring about sustainable change.