Andy Burns is the Development Worker for the Churh Urban Fund Joint Venture in the Diocese of London, Capital Mass.
Andy recently attended an event that was set up by CUF and Livability that was all about our new report: Fullness of Life Together
Here are Andy's reflections on the day:
AS SOON AS THE DAY STARTED, I FOUND MYSELF DRAWN INTO THE REPORT
The Fullness of Life Together Report is a conversation starter for churches across the UK to consider how drawing out the riches in our communities creates the space for a fuller life TOGETHER.
The report itself embodies that compelling narrative as the two organisations, Church Urban Fund and Livability have learnt and then presented together, utilising their individual skills and amplified collective voice.
The Fullness of Life Together Report invites churches to intentionally move from a Service Provider Model towards an Asset Based Community Development Model or ABCD for short. The former summed up as: “We The Church, The Strong, The Sorted” meet the needs of “The Poor, The Weak, The Other” . Whereas ABCD challenges us to invite, draw out and to give a platform to the rich wealth of talent already in our community, talent that may at present be untapped or released.
The encouragement is to view our neighbour as peer and equal, where TOGETHER we seek the welfare of our estate, village, town or city. Whilst ABCD could be seen as a radical step, especially for those of us immersed in the Service Provider Mind-set; the report felt Radically Natural for a relational body in relationship with a relational God.
I must confess (which gives an insight into a childish mind) that the line; “What is it that this village can do?” from the Steve Martin Film ‘The Three Amigo’s’ kept popping up during the day. In the film the people are faced with a great injustice and the heroes are powerless on their own to save the day. This leads the villagers to draw on what each can bring (in their case sowing) and together their talents combine to bring peace to the village.
In asking “what is it that this village can do” the church is drawn into mutually transformative relationships. Gone is the unintentional disempowerment of the service provider and in its place a healthier community affirmed in what each can bring. It’s that sense of ‘with’ which brought out the Christ-Centeredness of this approach. ABCD enables the Body of Christ to embody Christ’s calls to participate in His mission.
I’m reminded that when Christ sent his disciples out he asked them to find and to collaborate with the local People of Peace – to combine our efforts with those already engaged and those whose talents and voices have yet to be released.
As soon as the day started, I found myself drawn into the report; reflecting on it through several lenses. The report left me wanting to explore further, asking how this could also be translated into more transient or affluent communities where answers can be “bought in” or charities where funding is attached to a service provision model. Which is why I want to recommend this report to all who long to see their communities full of life.