Last year I attended my first CCDA conference. I was great! I am hoping to attend again this year. If you are going, let me know and we can get together for lunch or coffee while there. Since last year I have been receiving newsletters from CCDA. In the latest newsletter, CCDA’s CEO, Noel Castellanos, wrote about what he calls the “Five Expressions of Kingdom Ministry.” I have taken what he wrote and used it as a guest post. Enjoy.
Last week, I was in Baltimore, MD at our CCDA Leadership Cohort retreat with some of the most amazing young leaders in the nation, who happen to have a heart and passion for the vision and work of CCDA. The focus of the retreat was on the theology that under-girds CCDA’s 8 Component Philosophy. I wish you could have heard the honest, thoughtful, stimulating conversation, rooted in a love for Christ and in deep friendship with one another.
I had the privilege of addressing the group and shared what I’m calling the Five Expressions of Kingdom Ministry, a framework giving us the full mandate as Christ-followers to bring transformation to our communities. One of our leaders expressed a longing for the Church to embrace this framework as normative. With that encouragement, I am committing to communicating this message every chance I get.
What are the Five Expressions of Kingdom Ministry?
At the center of our mission is the Biblical truth found in John 1:14. The Message Bible reads; “The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.”
The incarnation of Jesus into our broken world, not only initiates God’s redemptive purposes, but provides us with a model for our ministry in under-resourced neighborhoods. Like Jesus, those of us who are called to CCD move into under-resourced neighborhoods to live out our faith, and are supported by many partners, who leverage our presence in the hood to be catalysts of change. For each of us, our response to the grace of God is to enter into the pain and suffering of the people of our neighborhoods through our proximity, relationships, solidarity and humility.
2) Proclamation and Formation
Matthew 28:18-20 instructs us to go into all of the world making disciples. This ‘Great Commission’ is at the core of our Evangelical ethos, and must be a continued commitment of our work in under-resourced communities. Life change and discipleship that occurs in local neighborhood churches not only creates dynamic Christians, but believers that work and pray for the transformation of their communities. My call to Christian Community Development began with a call to love and follow Jesus. CCD will always have both proclamation and formation at the core of our ministry efforts.
3) Demonstration of Compassion
Like the Good Samaritan in Luke 10, we are called to bind up the wounds of those that have been beat up on the road of life. Like Jesus, we are moved beyond pity, to actually get involved in crisis situations with a cup of cold water, a meal and blanket, and with our kindness to strangers and prisoners; some of the most vulnerable people in our society. But, when we live in the neighborhood, we quickly recognize when compassion is appropriate, and when it crosses the line to become destructive, as it creates dependence. Relief is necessary, but it must lead to development.
4) Restoration and Development
The book of Nehemiah, Jeremiah 29, and so many other Old Testament texts have informed the work of CCD from the beginning. In many respects, it has been our focus on changing unhealthy neighborhood environments as a Biblical expression of ministry that has set us apart. And, because we do this very bricks and mortar ministry from within the neighborhood, not from the outside, we have seen the potential, and experienced the effects, of lasting transformation that comes after many years of hard toil.
For many of us, the work of individual and community development has deployed us outside the four walls of the church and has released us to use our gifts and abilities in under-resourced neighborhoods. Living life shoulder to shoulder, deeply ingrained in our neighborhoods, has been key to not only changing our communities, but to changing our lives as well. Because we live there, when we seek the well-being of our neighborhoods, it impacts our personal well-being as well.
5) Confrontation of Injustice
Many of us committed to the poor and marginalized of our world have learned getting serious about seeing “justice roll on like a river, and righteousness like a never-failing stream” like we read in Amos 5:24, means we must include confronting sinful systems and institutions (comprised of sinful individuals) that keep people, especially the poor from experiencing the Shalom of God. So, we engage in advocacy for immigration reform, for school reform, and for prison reform, among other concerns, because these issues are rooted in the realities of our neighborhoods. They are not simply another justice issue to write congress about. For us, justice will never be a passing fad, because it is rooted in the suffering and pain of our neighbors, that we must never ignore.
After 30 years of ministry in under-resourced neighborhoods, I have discovered that these five expressions of ministry may be what Jesus is speaking about in Matthew 4:23, where it says that He preached the good news of The Kingdom of God.
May the Lord give us strength and perseverance to be agents of His Kingdom in the neighborhoods He has called us to minister and dwell in. And may we pray to our heavenly Father, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”