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

A Guide To Gospel Neighboring

from Redeemer City-to-City

Gospel Neighboring? We’ve all heard of being a good neighbor and know it is important, but what exactly is Gospel Neighboring? In this 6 lesson online course, the folks at Redeemer City-to-City walk us through the mandate for being a Gospel neighbor, the magnitude, the motivation, and the method. Building on the Bible’s clear and strong teachings on justice and shalom (as in restored relationships with God, self, others, and creation), we learn that the Gospel and being a good neighbor to all go hand in hand.

Designed for individuals to complete on their own, for small groups, or for a group of church leaders, the course is a combination of readings, videos, Bible study, and practical next steps. Timothy Keller, Bryan Stevenson, Paul David Tripp, Andy Crouch, Al Santino, and others take us through a detailed explanation of Biblical justice, shalom, the power of proximity, as well as an opportunity to examine the motivations of our heart in practicing justice. Throughout the lessons, it is made clear that practicing justice without the Gospel at the center is just another way of playing god and will ultimately lead to defeat.

Each lesson is followed by practice: a community prayer walk, discussions with community institutions and organizations, conversations with community members, and an inventory of church and/or personal ministry assets. You can do the practice activity on you own, but you will gain the most insight by doing them with as group.

What will you and your church gain by using this course? First, you will be connected to your actual neighbors in new and deeper ways. You’ll learn what is important to them and what they already, or could, contribute to their community. You will also find that you prayer life is deeper and you better understand God’s mission for your neighborhood and for the world. Working through this course as a group will also create a sound, Biblical foundation for mercy ministry at your church.

The course is free. Each of the 6 lessons takes between 1-3 hours including the practice activity. Entirely online, groups can work through the lessons together sharing notes and discussion along the way.

Field Guide to Becoming Whole

By Brian Fikkert and Kelly M. Kapic

A companion to our previously-reviewed Becoming Whole, A Field Guide to Becoming Whole offers practical principles for poverty-alleviation ministries as they apply the theories laid out in the former book.  Field Guide explores the commonly-held “stories of change” that both poor people and non-poor people often hold and helps us align them with the Gospel story, which is the only one that can provide God-honoring change that leads to a restored relationship with God, self, others, and the rest of creation.

Field Guide also looks at the five underlying reasons of poverty: broken stories of change, broken practices, broken systems, broken people, and demonic forces. Authors Brian Fikkert and Kelly Kapic outline what each looks like in practice and how they might each be addressed by Christian poverty alleviation ministries. As in other materials produced by the Chalmers Center, the Field Guide considers the three types of alleviation practices (relief, rehabilitation, and development) and discusses how they are each used in the appropriate time and situation and in which situations inappropriate support leads to problems such as paternalism and unhealthy dependency. Once again, we are reminded that we are all broken people in need of help to repair our relationships with God, self, others, and the rest of creation, and that as we walk alongside the poor, we can seek those areas of reconciliation together.

With helpful charts, encouraging real-life stories, and 20 Ministry Design Principles intended for Christian poverty alleviation ministries, Field Guide helps us connect theory with practice as we consider how to best walk alongside the poor.

These Ministry Design Principles consider the broad areas of kingdom community, false gods and erroneous stories of change, destructive formative practices, addressing broken systems and broken people, and resisting demonic forces. Each design principle section concludes with reflection questions so that the reader can consider the practices of his or her own ministry. The end of the book also helpfully provides a list of all of the principles, as well as a discussion of program models and key themes of Becoming Whole for those who missed it or would like a refresher.

Field Guide is useful both for those who are interested in starting poverty alleviation ministries and those who have worked in this area for a long time but are still continuing to seek to improve their ministries in walking with the poor.

One Blood: Parting Words to the Church on Race and Love

If you have not read works by John M. Perkins or listened to him speak, now is the time to do so.  Mr. Perkins is a minister, civil rights activist, community developer, and author, among other things.  The son of Mississippi sharecroppers, he fled to California after his brother was killed by a policeman.  He came to Christ at the age of 27 and soon after returned to rural Mississippi with a vision to bring the Gospel and change to the rural poor.  He and his wife founded Voice of Calvary Ministries and Mendenhall Ministries there, and were involved in civil rights activities during the 1960’s which led to his arrest in 1970 and torture by local police.  Perkins also founded Harambee Ministries in Pasadena, CA and the Christian Community Development Association.   His most well-known books include Let Justice Roll Down (1976), One Blood: A Parting Word to the Church on Race (2018),, and Dream With Me: Race, Love and the Struggle We Must Win (2017).

These past few weeks we have seen impassioned, and at times violent, calls for justice, for racial equality.  We all know that this is a problem in our country, there is not arguing that.  But what is the answer? What does God say on the issue and what should our Christian response be? 

In One Blood: Parting Words to the Church on Race and Love, Perkins pours his heart out to the Church. His words are based on decades of experience and time spent at the feet of Jesus.  The title, One Blood, is the basis of Perkins years of work. There is only one race – the human race.  There is no Biblical foundation for different races as we know them, rather the Bible talks about ethnic groups based on language, culture, country of origin, and lineage, and how God desires for all ‘ethnos’/nations to come to Him and worship him together.

Perkins calls the Church to lament its broken past, to confess actions and attitudes, and to forgive as God has forgiven us.  We must also continue to move forward for Biblical reconciliation (Note: Perkins prefers the term ‘Biblical reconciliation’ over ‘racial reconciliation’ as it accurately expresses “the removal of tension between parties and the restoration of loving relationship” that the Bible teaches. p. 17). Throughout the book Perkins gives us historic examples of those who have fought for the reconciliation, as well as present day examples of multi-ethnic churches working towards reconciliation in cities around the country.   Perkins calls us to prayer, to time before our Lord for our hearts, for our brothers and sisters, for those organizations fighting for reconciliation and for the Church.  And most importantly – love.  The goal of Biblical reconciliation is restored loving relationships. Love is messy and hard and requires commitment and work. Perkins calls us to commit and work toward love for our brothers and sisters, no matter the color of their skin. 

One Blood: Parting Words to the Church on Race and Love is a compelling and short read.  It also includes discussion questions so it makes a great group read as well.  It’s available in hardback, paperback and Kindle versions.  Add it to your reading list this week!