How do the lessons and perspectives we’ve learned in decades of urban U.S. ministry translate to other countries? The Lupton Center recently shared of the work happening in Nicaragua to promote community development and transform traditional charity. But that’s not the only country Director Shawn Duncan has been engaging conversations on this topic!
Earlier this year, he traveled across the pond to spend a week visiting Restore Community Church to collaborate on how the congregation can best serve the local neighborhood. Restore Senior Leader Ian King said, “We found the time to be challenging, stimulating and resourcing in roughly equal measure.”
The week was packed full, and time was spent working developing strategy with leaders from key community initiatives, training church leadership in healthy missional living, brainstorming with project leaders from across the UK around community initiatives, and casting a vision for community engagement during Sunday service. Staff and key volunteers at Restore had discussion on the principles, values, and ethos of long-term community engagement. It was a robust time of dialogue, input, and challenge for a different future.
King described a lack of long-term examples in the U.K. “We have few models of community engagement as established as those of FCS in South Atlanta and certainly no framework like that described in Charity Detox by Bob Lupton. The values and ethos has already significantly impacted our thinking around community engagement, as well as our language and practice. In particular, we were challenged about how we might engage is structural change to tackle the systems behind poverty in local communities.
“We also had several significant conversations around how churches can engage healthily in local community initiatives and work in partnership with community initiatives or actually lead them. This is a part of the dream for Restore.”
The reach of this collaboration goes beyond the U.S. and the U.K. Restore Community Church works at community schools in Zambia. Conversations of the week focused on developing future strategy and raising up local leadership. “We found the expertise and consulting from long-term experience in this area to be invaluable both for projects in the UK and Zambian context,” King says.
International conversations on charity, transformation, and community engagement are inspiring and so much fun. It’s always encouraging to see the ways outdated practices are being dismantled and reconstructed to participate in the transformation of communities. We’re so grateful for the opportunity to visit Restore and be a part of the work they are doing in the U.K.!