“The Church & Community Development course gave me the ability to integrate my deep theological convictions with the practical work of helping those in poverty find financial stability. I knew God wanted His people to help, but I had no idea of how much He had to say about how we are to go about this important work! This was a rich, dynamic, wholistic, and practical training experience that has made me more equipped to do effective ministry in the city!” – Martell Hixson-
In Luke 4, Jesus declares that He came as the Messiah anointed by the Spirit to bring “good news to the poor,” “liberty to the captives” and “oppressed,” and to heal “the blind.” But how does the church carry on our Messiah’s mission to the poor in our city today? That’s the question the Church & Community Development course at MCUTS seeks to answer. This course, started under Dr. Larry Lloyd’s visionary leadership, helps students hear and respond to God’s invitation to participate in His holistic mission of bringing the whole gospel to the whole city. Drawing both on the vision and writings of Dr. John Perkins and the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) and Brian Fikkert and Steve Corbett’s more recent, paradigm-shifting When Helping Hurts, this course equips students to lead both congregations and para-church ministries towards biblical, effective, and radical care for neighbors and neighborhoods struggling with material poverty.
“This course has actually given me a sense of purpose to serve those outside the church, and has given me a desire to connect the work of the church with the work of serving the community.” – Antwoine Clark-
By the end of the course, through class discussions, case studies, a field trip, extensive reading, and constant application of class principles to their own church, family, and ministry contexts, students will have:
- Developed an understanding of community development best practices built on the CCDA’s philosophy of ministry and When Helping Hurts, and evaluated opportunities to apply these practices in their own lives and in their churches
- Learned how to “map” the assets of a community and the gifts of those who live there and practiced doing asset mapping in their own community
- Confessed that our churches have often either neglected care for the poor as a part of the gospel or offered the materially poor help that only reinforces our “messiah complex,” offering Band-Aids rather than creating lasting change
- Visited outstanding examples of church-based community development, such as The Works at St. Andrews AME or Christ Quest Church’s outreach to the marginalized under the leadership of Reverend Marlon Foster.
- Identified different types of needs in terms of “relief” versus “development,” and practiced categorizing both ministries and needs using these concepts
- Recognized the centrality of relational ministry as a strategy which allows both the “helper” and the “helped” to move towards God’s design for their lives
- Evaluated the potential of cutting edge community development ministries, such as Faith & Finances, Work Life, and Circles of Support, to help the church care for her neighbors.
At MCUTS, we believe that the local church has a special role to play in leading the charge to holistically love, care for, and welcome our low-income neighbors. And we believe that MCUTS students have an unprecedented opportunity to lead our local churches in this direction. The Church & Community Development course gives MCUTS students a chance to learn how to truly embody Christ’s good news to the poor in our work, our families, and our churches.