Last week we had the opportunity to host a CCDA Cafe with Noel Castellanos. If you're not familiar with the Christian Community Development Association, it's a network of Christians committed to seeing people and communities wholistically restored. The Urban Mission Center is a member of the association, and we're proud supporters of its work.
Noel guided us through the highlights of his new book, Where the Cross Meets the Street: What Happens to a Neighborhood When God is at the Center. Hearing from Noel was such an encouragement for us at the Urban Mission Center, who are currently navigating the waters of incarnation together.
The Temple House community gathered on Sunday following the Cafe, where we had the opportunity to debrief a bit of what Noel shared. Here a few thoughts that surfaced:
- The poor as the target of ministry vs. the poor as the center of ministry. What might seem as a small distinction, this is really significant in how we approach ministry, particularly among those on the margin. We often make the poor a target for ministry, turning people into projects. The poor should be the center of ministry, just as we see in the example of Jesus.
- We need to make diversity in leadership a priority. Noel shared briefly about this, but he expands on the topic of diverse leadership in his book. Growing up as a Mexican American, Noel didn't have many examples of Latinos in leadership. This was perplexing to him as a young person. Were Latinos not equipped to lead, were they not expected to lead? When I take a look at my own context, I consider the people who've inspired me to lead, and you know what? They're a lot like me - women who happen to be introverts. I want The Salvation Army to have leaders who reflect the diversity of our denomination. We need to do better.
- We can't stop with evangelism and discipleship. If we're going to be a part of God's mission in our neighborhoods, we need to walk in the example of Jesus. Noel uses four concepts to illustrate how we can make neighborhoods whole: proclamation and formation, demonstration of compassion, restoration and development, and confronting injustice. I would love to elaborate, but you should really just read the book. I have a few copies available for a donation of $10.
If you haven't checked out CCDA yet, do it! You'll find a great network of resources, encouragement, and ideas.