Ed Clarke, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology at Vanguard University writes this month. He would love to help resource churches and pastors as we reach out to people in our cities!
As a masonry contractor, I participated in construction projects that changed the lives of people. In Haiti, for instance, we built 22 schools that offered education and a healthy meal each day to children, and gave parents some hope and economic relief.
I now am a professor of Sociology at Vanguard University. I lead community-based research to understand better the issues related to homelessness in Orange County. It takes a while to learn what really helps to relieve social problems! Many believers are looking for ways to use their unique skills, and we need to do it well.
Here are a few basic steps I have learned in my search:
1. Identify and understand the problem. Ask questions at City Hall. Do research to understand the community needs and select a focus. Look for and listen to the concerns of the community.
2. Avoid redundancy. Find out what others are doing and look for ways to address different problems. Doing what is already being done limits the types of support possible.
3. Work with others. Find friends and allies. I need to collaborate with others because my skills are limited. God has placed in my hand particular tools; the larger the group the greater is the range of possibilities.
Christ followers all over America are becoming important and valued community partners. Churches are helping to address serious and enduring problems within communities including poverty, homelessness, education, immigration and more.
May God help us “add value” to life in our cities!
To learn more about how this can be applied at your church, contact Ed at firstname.lastname@example.org.