(Ali hearon will lead a workshop titled "Community Transformation: Foundations for Community Ministry" at the Micah 6:8 Conference March 31-April 1 at Trinity Baptist Church in San Antonio. The conference will feature authors Jen and Brandon Hatmaker.)
Amy has an outgoing personality, lots of perseverance, and a heart for service. Her welcoming presence and vivacious sense of humor draw others to her in friendship. Amy also happens to be in recovery from an intense addiction to alcohol that has wreaked havoc on her life and relationships.
Amy is now living in sobriety in Trinity, though her name is changed here. She is surrounded by a community of believers where she is able to heal, rest, and live out of her identity as a new creation in Christ.
Passing by Amy a year ago, it could have been easy to label her with words like "addict" or "struggling mom." Such labels would not have helped to really see her and know her. Then and now, the Lord sees Amy as His whole-hearted and gifted daughter. Check out Luke 7:36-50 to see how Jesus rejects labels and uplifts a woman who has experienced trauma.
Likewise, followers of Jesus are called to see the world through Christ-centered lenses.
Every person has God-given strengths, talents, and dreams regardless of her or his background. This truth makes way for Christ followers to see strengths in every person we meet and in every community we enter rather than dwelling on shortcomings.
This principle of "seeing strengths" is foundational in community ministry. When serving in food pantries, ESL classes, and prison ministry, Christ followers can see each individual from a "strength perspective" rather than a "deficit perspective."
To recognize gifts regardless of a person's background or condition honors others and creates an attitude of humility. This radically affects ministry because meaningful, two-sided relationships can arise. Furthermore, we can learn from the people we are called to serve, which ultimately creates an environment for transformation for both parties. This is the kind of help that makes a difference.In The True Believer, Eric Hoffer declares "those who would transform a nation or the world… must know how to kindle and fan an extravagant hope." May we be disciples who fan hope and "regard others as better than ourselves" (Philippians 2:3) in our lives and in our service.