By Steve Matthews
FaithX Senior Associate Consultant
I have a friend, DeAmon Harges, who lives in what some might say is a struggling neighborhood in Indianapolis. If you look at familiar measures of sustainability and viability you might agree. There is higher than average unemployment, lower home value, and higher crime rates. What doesn’t show up in common demographics is how those numbers are improving because of the investment of neighbors. Several years ago the neighbors in DeAmon’s community began to focus on the assets of the neighborhood rather than the scarcity. They make building community a practice. They know each other and they know the gifts that each person has to offer the common good… and they call out these gifts. Their homes, gardens, yards and porches are community centers for fellowship, vision-making, and strategizing. Some might say this neighborhood has few resources, but when I visited, I saw abundance (you can learn more about DeAmon’s work and his neighborhood here).
When I think about churches and places of worship across the US that FaithX has accompanied, I see abundance there too. I see talented and loving people, I see strategic locations, I see beautiful buildings, and yet when I talk to churches, I often hear so many stories of scarcity. People wonder how they are going to fix the roof, pay the preacher, and provide pastoral care for their own. These are legitimate concerns, but in our faith stories of abundance, these fears are not greater than the possibilities.
At FaithX we are working with churches to help them name their gifts and see the possibilities of partnership within their neighborhoods. Worship and fellowship spaces, pipe organs, kitchens, parking lots, green spaces – these are all amazing resources, but when unused or under-used they are like gold hidden just underground… accessible as a resource, but if not uncovered and named and shared, they are of no value.
How might these resources be noticed, named, nurtured, and shared with the community? What resources might the community/neighborhood have to share with your faith community? Sometimes there is financial gain to nurturing a Congregation–Based Neighborhood Resource Hub, and there is always a gain in building relational capitol with the neighborhood. Who knows what God might do with that! Like DeAmon Harges’s neighborhood, what might happen if we see building networks and community for the good of all as a daily practice?