By Shawn Duncan
There are many misunderstandings about poverty. But there is one truth around which we at FCS seek to focus our efforts: Poverty is a community issue.
We work with one urban neighborhood at a time. We move in as neighbors and work within that fixed geographic community. Right now, we are at work in historic South Atlanta, a neighborhood of 520 homes just south of downtown.
But moving into a community is only the start. In our community work, we focus on the following three areas of impact:
#1. Economic Development
We have to think about jobs and about affordable access to the things that make neighborhoods thrive (check out this index for more on flourishing neighborhoods).
Economic Development means looking at the assets and barriers that exist and finding holistic ways to address them. It means partnering with business owners, entrepreneurs, and others with the know-how to create wealth and opportunity for others.
Bob Lupton asks a great question in his latest book Charity Detox, “If our goal is to alleviate poverty, does it not make sense to invite into the mission those who are gifted in wealth creation?”
#2 - Community Development
When people want to get involved in serving low-income neighbors, they often think solely about what is wrong. We encourage people to discover and start with what strengths are present in their community.
At FCS don’t spend all of our time thinking about what is broken in our neighborhood. We think about the the great capacities within our neighbors. We look for leaders and partner with them. We do a lot of listening. Much of the power needed to transform a community is already present within that community.
#3 - Mixed-income Housing
Affordable housing is vital to the stability of any neighborhood. FCS - though our housing ministry Charis Community Housing - creates access to quality, affordable housing. We are finding a way to make our community a mixed-income neighborhood.
Just as most neighborhoods became distressed when families with resources moved out, we invite resourced people to move in. Friendships develop between families with resource and families experiencing poverty so that together, we experience Shalom.
For more insight on our ministry philosophy, we would encourage you to read Charity Detox written by our Founder, Bob Lupton. Or, reach out to me, the Director of Training and Education, to learn more or schedule a training. You can reach me at shawn[at]fcsministries[dot]org.