Start With God

March 02, 2021

By Rev. Kris Mares, Uwharrie District Missional Engagement Associate
 
Many years ago, the Jackson 5 made popular a song (can you hear it yet?) that talked about getting back to the basics of love. It was supposed to be as easy as ABC and 123, the things we learn so early in our education - likely even before we officially enter the school system. (Seriously, has the song gotten into your head yet?) The basics of simple love for one another, or so the Jackson 5 sang, was the root of a deeper love hoped for. 
 
Deep love has to start somewhere right?
 
When we are at first learning to love someone, we often see and focus on all the great qualities about them. We see their passion, their kindness, their strengths. We talk about what we like about the person and all the good things we have come to learn about. Deep love for someone starts with all the good things we notice and learn about them.
 
Deep love starts with the good.
 
When we consider how we look at opportunities to serve our neighbors, however, it is not often we start with the good. Too often, we look around and think about what needs fixing and how we can bring our outsider perspective and knowledge into a situation and make it better. We want to change, to improve communities by looking at what is broken and how we can fix it. We want to start transforming communities by fixing what is wrong.
 
Transforming communities starts with the good.
 
Sustainable missional engagement uses asset based community development as a foundation for change. This approach, often referred to simply as ABCD, starts with looking at what is good in a community, group, or organization. ABCD considers what strengths, resources, and assets are already available. Asset based community development asks the question, “What is already here that is good?”
 
Deep love starts with the good.
 
When we consider what is already in a community, group, or organization that is good, we are affirming the work that God has already done, the gifts that God has given, the talents that God has already developed. When we start with the good, we are recognizing that God has been at work long before us and already provided an abundance of resources. Starting with the good is the foundation of loving our neighbor well.
 
ABCD starts with the good.
 
As you plan your next “mission project” or community service opportunity, start planning with considering what is already available, what is already happening, that is good. Build on that. Use the strengths of the community you plan to serve. Notice what is good about them, talk about what is already happening that is great. This perspective shift, and then planning the ministry around the strengths already available, will build a foundation for sustainable missional engagement. And perhaps it is as simple as ABC …D. 
 
Because God is always good. 
 
For more information on Asset Based Community Development and strengths based missional engagement, read Transforming Communities: How People Like You are Healing their Neighborhoods by Sandhya Rani Jha or visit the Asset Based Community Development Institute website.
 
And the next time you hear the Jackson 5 sing the song, think about asset based community development!


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