Blog

Neighborhood Poverty: 4 Key Strategies

You want to alleviate neighborhood poverty, but don’t want to reinvent the wheel.  It turns out there are four action templates—tried-and-true strategies—for how to respond.  Each comes with its pro and con.  This conclusion comes from a study of Mississippi faith communities that sought to respond to the changes in welfare policy in the late […]

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How to Address Poverty D-E-V-E-L-O-P-M-E-N-T-A-L-L-Y

No doubt it’s happened to you:  Someone asked you for money because they’ve had a crisis and are short on cash.    Or you felt compassion for neighborhood families that are struggling to make financial ends meet and volunteered to work in a food pantry.  Or your congregation’s leaders grew concerned about homelessness and decided to […]

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Three Questions People Ask about Community Service

1.  How do I start a community project?  Short answer: A community project is any organized effort to bring needed change to the community, whether it’s direct service (donating) or direct action (protesting). The six steps are Identify an issue Communicate your message to mobilize people Build partnerships with others (including agencies) who can help […]

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Personal Empowerment vs. Social Change: Must We Choose?

When we consider strategies or methods that congregations or faithful citizens use to bring about lasting social change, personal empowerment projects are often overlooked.  Unlike direct service programs which meet immediate needs (cash, food or clothing), empowerment projects seek to undergird the whole person through counseling, mentoring, training, educating or supporting recovery from traumatic circumstances.

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How to Throw a Block Party

  Weather permitting there is nothing more enjoyable than a block party—walking through a crowd on blocked off streets with the aroma of food and the sound of a band playing somewhere.  Have you ever thought about organizing one?  My focus here is the small-scale block party, the kind hosted by a congregation, faith-based organization, […]

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The Revival Center: From Social Service to “Mutual Aid” (Part Two)

How can congregations move beyond “helping” the poor to being in ministry with them?  A black Pentecostal church on Chicago’s Near West Side offers a model for pulling families out of poverty.  Serving as a something like a “mutual aid society” where everyone has a voice and anyone can ask for help, The Revival Church […]

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The Revival Center: From Social Service to “Mutual Aid” (Part One)

  Most socially minded congregations seek to “help” the poor through service activities such as a food pantry or clothes closet.  A better model might be the congregation as “mutual aid society” for its members.  Historically, mutual aid societies (fraternal lodges and labor unions are two examples) offered fellowship, equal participation and, more importantly, material […]

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Bridging the Class Divide: Lessons From Four Cities

  Last week we looked at a Morehouse College project in Indianapolis, Denver, Camden and Hartford that studied the relationship between congregations and high poverty urban communities.  The Faith Communities and Urban Families Project, directed by R. Drew Smith, was sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.  The questions they asked:  What connections exist between congregations […]

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