Salt & Light: A Guide to Loving Northwest Indiana

Page 19

A wealth of information on your community is available online. Sometimes you simply have to know where to SVVR 6[OLY WV[LU[PHSS` ]HS\HISL sources of information for learning about your community include local colleges and universities, the city planning department, hospitals, and UVU WYVĂ„[ VYNHUPaH[PVUZ Z\JO HZ [OL United Way and local community action centers (CAC). 0 AT[PcX^]P[ 0bbTc 1PbTS 0__a^PRW A community study with the goal of transformation is not arm-chair analysis. You have to approach the community more like getting to know a friend than like studying a subject for a school report. This kind of study values building relationships with, and seeking input from, members of the community. Taking the time to include others allows you to get beyond mere information to the heart of the matter, and to the hearts of the people.

all things in a community that can be used in some way to make life better for everyone.â€? Asset-based analysis assumes that every community is rich with gifts and potential, regardless of the challenges it may face. This encourages us to look for opportunities to connect with, strengthen, and build on the community’s capacity to address its own ULLKZ 0U JVU[YHZ[ KLĂ„UPUN H JVTT\UP[` ZVSLS` PU [LYTZ VM P[Z KLĂ„JPLUcies is demoralizing. We may actually perpetuate problems by seeking to “rescueâ€? people rather than empowering and walking alongside them. A community study is like a treasure hunt for the wheat of God’s gifts and

activity, often hidden among the tares (Matthew 13:24-30). As people who care about the city, you have to begin by asking the Lord of the harvest to show you where the goodness of his reign is evident, and you have to assess where the human project has shown signs of brokenness. Where needs exist, you have to “erect signs of God’s ultimate reign,â€? as the late David Bosch would say. As you develop relationships and learn about your community, you will discover more of God’s heart for the community, and you will be better equipped to act on the vision inspired by these discoveries. Studying our region can help unlock the keys to a Ă…V\YPZOPUN JVTT\UP[`


An asset-based approach to community study means paying attention not only to the community’s needs and problems, but also to its resources and strengths. This approach, writes Jay Van Groningen, leads to “seeing FWPczb 8]bXST } $