about us | contact | for sale   congregations

  12 Reasons    Taking It Seriously   Evangelicals Studied    Pentecostal Bishop   Job Coalition

         Sider Endorsement - On Power - Wheaton Professor - Rev. Youngblood - Community Organizing 
         Community Development - Democracy - Linthicum


 The Socio-Economic Context


Congregations of faith seek to live out the call of their faith traditions in a culture experiencing enormous change. One of the key shifts continuing to occur is the pressure experienced by families and communities in a culture of rising individualism and global economics. The emerging market-driven economy is expanding to influence more than just the acquisition of things. Relationships and communities are now being seen as commodities that are bought and sold. The question raised more often than "How are things going for the family... the community?" is "How is it with the economy?" According to a market analysis, one of the roles of communities of faith is to offer compassion and service, tending to the casualties left by this increasingly global economy and individualized culture. But communities of faith feel the pressure to focus only narrowly on the private, to avoid raising the difficult public issues or tensions that come from life in the larger community—to "go with what the market will bear7 even if it means silence in the face of social injustice.

However, some people of faith in America are choosing to find their voices in the public arena through engagement in faith-based community organizing. These congregants are reaching out to other religious communities across class, race, ethnic, geographic, economic, and political distinctions. They are building intentional public relationships, sharing common stories, and discovering commonly held values and vision. They are learning to express their pain publicly and to critique the prevailing norms of their communities and the larger culture. They are imagining new possibilities of life together in community The results are impressive, including creation of public policies to meet the expressed concerns of local residents; expansion of health care options and affordable housing; renewal of schools; and development of jobs for the people who need them the most. But more profoundly done well, this work transforms the faith communities themselves, renewing their health, hope and vigor. Faith-based community organizing demands that congregations train and develop leaders with power within the congregation; those leaders in turn offer unexpected new energy and commitment for congregational and public life.

Congregational participants in faith-based community organizing are invited to find their own powerful voices and to act, not as individuals, but as citizens in the largest sense of the word. This citizenship is not narrowly defined by any permits or cards, but by collaborative participation in public life. Insisting that the nation belongs to them and that the institutions that are intended to serve them must do just that, people of faith find that their sacred texts come to life in a new way through public action, healing the artificial separation between the life of a true citizen and the life of the spirit.

        Excerpted from "Renewing Congregations" by Interfaith Funders and Richard Wood 

Return to Homepage

  CSCO, P.O. Box 60123, Dayton, OH 45406; email:cscocbco@aol.com phone:508-799-7726