Modest Experiments in ABCD

A few weeks ago I spent the day in Durham, kicking off an experiment.

Val from Communities Together Durham and I were meeting with a group of people who are going to be leading the way as ‘Community Listeners’. Over the next few months, these pioneers will be going into their communities to speak to people and discover the skills, talents, and passions of local people.

These conversations are an exciting opportunity for us to see what Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) looks like in practice. As the Community Listeners begin to uncover the gifts of the people around them, they will be able to build up a picture of their community and make connections between people with similar or complementary interests and skills. As people become more connected we hope to see closer community bonds developing.


To help the Community Listeners prepare for their conversations, we spent a whole day thinking about various aspects of ABCD, from the nuts and bolts of the theory itself to practically how we could take this to our communities.

I was really struck by one exercise we did on gifts and skills. Each of us was asked to think about our own gifts and skills to talk about with other members of the group. Many of us found it difficult to promote ourselves and to recognise our own gifting, but when we did and as we shared with other people in the room we realised how much we had in common. It was amazing to see the range of skills, talents and passions that everyone had.

It is this realisation of how much we all have to offer that is at the heart of ABCD. We are asked to see the glass as ‘half full’ and not ‘half empty’ as we look to our communities. Instead of focussing on what people lack, we are called to see the incredible vibrancy, ability and value of each individual.

ABCD is something we have talked about a lot at CUF in recent years, as we recognise that the values expressed in ABCD resonate deeply with Christian theology and practice. We have written various reports and put on events interrogating the concept of ABCD and reflecting on what that means for us in practice.[1] It is a privilege to partner with these Community Listeners in Durham to try this out together.

Over the next few months we will be sharing more about how the process is going and what we are learning. If you have any questions or would like to know anything more about this ‘modest experiment’ or ABCD in general do not hesitate to get in touch.

[1] If you are interested in these please see ‘A Theological Reflection on Asset-Based Community Development’,Fullness of Life Together and Building Kingdom Communities.