Theological Resources – Community Development.
When I trained as a Community and Youth Worker in the early 70’s , I was employed by the Birmingham South West circuit of the Methodist Church as a Community Development Worker, most of my professional colleagues were working in the inner city areas. Since then Britain’s Council built housing estates have been the target of many Government Programmes; Community Development Projects, Regeneration Programmes, Employment Schemes, and other initiatives that draw upon community development methods.
Estate Churches are often under pressure to engage with these programmes alongside others who represent aspects of the voluntary and statutory sectors. There is always a danger that funding bodies change their emphasis under the pressures of political expediency. Congregations can find that partnerships work very well, but there are also occasions when the funding tail begins to wag the dog and congregations can loose sight of why they were doing it.
For this reason I want to offer some theological resources that may help us keep our eye on the ball. The following do not attempt to resource professional community development skills and objectives, although they make some assumptions about these. What they do is provide some think pieces about what is the church’s equivalent to agency function. What are the values and conduct that underpin a congregation’s involvement in such projects ? How do these connect with the theology of the gospel message?
I hope these brief papers will provide some clues about how community projects have meaning when working from a Christian base.
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