I have been doing a lot of thinking and studying about the church and economic development in impoverished communities.
Questions I've been asking...
- Can the church play a role?
- Is it supposed to?
- Is the Gospel of Jesus something to just be verbally shared?
- Does the Gospel just transform individuals or can it transform whole communities?
- Do I believe in a whole Gospel for the whole person and the whole of society?
Here are some conclusions I am coming to...
1. The church is God's primary and intended instrument to serve the poor and bring about community transformation.The church does not exist for itself it must engage the poor. Isaiah 58:6-12, Luke 7:18-23
2. It's so natural to associate poverty with the financially poor, but I believe we are all poor. We all suffer from sin brought on through the fall of man. Romans 5:12
3. Because of our sin problem we all need reconciliation. We need to be reconciled with God, with one another, even with ourselves. We all need poverty alleviation for all our relationships. 2 Corinthians 5:17-19
4. Economic development outreach can be done by the church and one used by God to bring about community transformation.
5. It is of the utmost importance that the church correctly assesses and understands the needs and assets of the community they are trying to help before they can design any strategies for economic development.
6. The church must bring the poor to the table, give them a voice and allow them to speak into and lead the economic development process for their community.
Multiple resources for further study of this subject can be found here at the Chalmers Center for Economic Development at Covenant College.