PO Box 20322 Roanoke, VA 24018 info@restoringhoperoanoke.org ‪(540) 523-1098‬

Mobilize My Church

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
    and recovering of sight to the blind,
    to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”  Luke 4:18-19 ESV

When Jesus began his ministry here among men, he started it declaring that he fulfilled these words of the prophet Isaiah.  He came to PROCLAIM good news to the poor, give liberty to the captive and oppressed, give sight to the blind, and proclaim God’s favor.  Through his life and teaching, through the God-breathed words of the apostles, and throughout the history of the Old Testament, we know that God has called us to do the same, both individually and corporately. 

But how does the church do this? It’s easy to help the poor materially – write a check, collect food or clothing. But how do we actively proclaim the good news and liberty in a way that is glorifying to God, and life changing?

Our friends at the Chalmers Center in Chattanooga have worked hard in collaboration with Think-Tank Inc and Umoja to create on online course and set of materials designed to move the church into the community in a way that brings restored relationships with God, self, others, and creation.   Any church or coalition of churches can easily follow the six phases outlined in Mobilize My Church to discover their own assets as a church, and to discover and network with the assets of individuals and institutions in their community. 

Interspersed with videos, Bible studies, and cases, Mobilize My Church offers a thorough yet simple guide to help the local church be light in their community using the assets they have paired with the assets within the community.   Key to starting is having a church leadership on board, and forming a core team which will organize and lead activities. 

The first big task is to map your church. This involves a fun time together looking back at the history of the church, its success and struggles.  This is followed by a separate gather of congregants to explore what assets the church as a body and they individually have to help restore relationships to God, self, others, and creation.  Perhaps the church already has a recovery group like Celebrate Recovery where more neighbors could participate.  Perhaps an individual in the church has a lot of experience with special needs children and could see themselves starting a special needs night out for area families.

One outcome of the church asset mapping is the identification of congregants who want to be more involved by helping to building relationships with persons in the community.  These allies, as they are called, are trained in poverty alleviation using materials such as When Helping Hurts: The Small Group Experience and a shorter session, Equipping Allies, provided within the course.  (We use the second to train our Jobs for Life champions and highly recommend it!)

Once a church has a clear picture of what they offer, the next step is to learn from the community.  This is perhaps the most involved step and will require more time and manpower.  Mobilize My Church provides a good amount of background information on this step.  First you will modify a capacity inventory to suit your community and purposes. Then you deliver the capacity inventory to the community by going out in pairs to meet people, learn the community history, and learn what institutions and resources already exist.  This is not a study where you are gathering data, but an opportunity to meet people who you will continue to connect with as you build a stronger relationship with the community.  You’ll get a chance to invite many of these folks to a gathering with your church to discuss what you learned, put that with the assets the church can offer, and create a vision for a new, or remade, ministry.   No longer is the church doing for the community, but now you are working with them to see lasting change and restored relationships with God, self, and others.

At this point it is up to the core team, plus chosen community members, to create a written plan of the vision built through a lot of prayer and hard work.   This plan is then presented to the church leadership, the congregation, the allies, and the community.  No plan of action can be successful in the long-term without careful monitoring and evaluation over time.  Mobilize My Church gives you tools for these important steps in the sixth and final phase.  

Should your church decide to use the materials in Mobilize My Church, you should allow six months to two years for completion. Remember, change doesn’t come overnight!  The course has different costs depending on whether you want to do it yourself, receive private coaching from Think-Tank Inc, or participate in interactive web events from Think-Tank Inc.

Last spring, we reviewed a free course from Redeemer City-to-City, A Guide To Gospel Neighboring, which follows much the same plan but in a shorter format with less detail.

We at Restoring Hope Roanoke are available to help your church walk through these steps as well.  We can provide much of the leadership and training for your core team, help you clearly identify your community, and provide additional networking around the Roanoke Valley.  Contact us if you’d like to discuss this more with us!

Made to Flourish – Faith, work, and economic wisdom

“We empower pastors and their churches to integrate faith, work, and economic wisdom for the flourishing of their communities.”

What is human flourishing?  How do we as followers of Christ help others to flourish as God designed them to?  These are some of the questions that the folks at Made to Flourish address in the resources and events they provide.

The work of Made To Flourish is founded in a biblical understanding of God’s work at creation, the fall, redemption, and consummation. God’s mission is the renewal of all things – renewal from the results of sin which broke our relationships with God, with ourselves, with others, and with the rest of creation.  Through faith in Christ, we are justified and increasingly restored to the image of God, into Christlikeness.   The dignity of being a child of Christ is restored. 

Made To Flourish sees work as key to human dignity, a way to worship God as we create for good as He created for good.  Work is about contributing value to others, not compensation.  As we understand God’s design for work, we also understand that economic wisdom glorifies God as we skillfully and responsibly seek to always help others to biblically flourish through stewardship of God’s creation.  The mission of the Church, and the local church, then is to “join God in the renewal of all things, including individuals, institutions, cultures, and all of creation.” 

Made To Flourish offers curated and original resources for church leaders on the topics of faith, work, and economic wisdom.   These resources are broken down into topics for discipleship, pastoral work, preaching, worship, and mission and outreach.  You can view videos, participate in webinars, read articles or purchase books such as:

A unique feature of Made To Flourish are their networks of pastors around the country who are learning together to equip their people to take the gospel in all its fulness to all parts of human reality.  The national, regional, and 25 city networks offer tools, events, and training specifically on the topic of faith, work, and economic wisdom.  

City and National events are open to anyone to attend (and yes, they are now virtual).  These events are regional on timely topics.  Made To Flourish also works with 18 different churches around the country for pastoral residencies –  two years of hands on learning and mentoring for recent seminary graduates where they receive practical training in the realities of pastoring. 

Browse through their collection of resources, subscribe to their updates, or join their next webinar to learn more about connecting our everyday world of work to our faith.

The Art of Neighboring

by Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon

In this easy to read book, Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon challenge us as followers of Christ to truly live the Great Commandment – to love our God with everything we have and to love our neighbor as ourselves.  Many times, this commandment is taken more figuratively where our neighbor is just anyone we meet along the road of life.  Pathak and Runyon though focus on the literal meaning of neighbor – those who live right next door to you. 

Block Map

The authors invite us to take the first steps in loving our neighbors by just getting to know them. Of the neighbors immediately around your home, do you know their names, some relevant information about them that would only come from a conversation (drives a red car doesn’t count!), or any in-depth information about them such as dreams, plans, beliefs? They give a simple tool in a block map to track your progress in getting to know your neighbors.

Pathak and Runyon address the barriers to getting to know, and love, your neighbors:  time and fear.  They also give first steps to take when getting to really know and love your neighbors seems overwhelming.  As you move from stranger to acquaintance to relationship, begin with small steps of loving care by sharing in small acts of kindness: tutoring a child, helping repair a mower, or inviting neighbors to dinner.

The ultimate (not ulterior) goal in loving your neighbors is to introduce them to a loving relationship with Jesus Christ.  Pathak and Runyon give simple steps in moving a relationship toward an open and sincere conversation about your relationship with our Father God.  They also address an important principle in community development – avoid approaching relationships as projects and you are the “superneighbor”.  Rather strive to work with your neighbors and not just do for them which means receiving as well as giving.

Being a good neighbor may mean knowing many neighbors yet placing boundaries so that you are close to just a few.  Neighboring will be messy. There will be times when you need to forgive and move one.   Don’t assume you are alone either. Enlist others, a partner or a team, to pool your gifts and love for your neighbors.

The Art of Neighboring would make a great read for a church community group. Six sets of discussion material are included at the end of the book, each one covering two chapters, with a Bible passage to read and study together as well as questions for discussion and action steps.  You can also find more resources at their website www.artofneighboring.com