A lot of my inspiration for pursuing Community Development within Churches comes from my belief that part of Christ’s restorational purposes in our world is for people to thrive.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” -John 10:10 (my emphasis)
For people to thrive they must not be caught up in an endless loop of survival. They must be empowered to have a vision for their future. And they must be able to embrace a life that is both abundant AND sustainable.
And this is a key challenge in Australia. Our current welfare system means that no-one should starve (as inadequate as the New Start Allowance is… and it is inadequate to the point that we have received a letter from the UN Department of Human Rights about it). And yet the challenge of living in a community saturated with luxurious items and idealised consumption means that many chose abundance over sustainability often due to low financial literacy (and are encouraged to do so by pay-day-loans and pawn brokers and businesses that are thinly disguised versions of these).
But we are waking up to the disappointment of this model in which “Joint consumption doesn’t create intimacy” -Charles Eisenstein (Sacred Economics)
So thriving requires both abundance and sustainability. As congregations and organisations committed to seeing others thrive our practices must be guided by our communities strengths (Asset Based Community Development ). We can then support “thriving” by working in open networks with deliberately heightened levels of collaboration. It has to do with hosting one another in community and allowing each other to be hosted (more about hosting here). Or as my good friend Tania Watson puts it: “allowing the other to remain stranger while we feed and water their camels” (Genesis 24:19).
It has to do with how we compose ourselves in our work with the “other” and our capacity to honour both community and individual at once.
Thriving also goes beyond abundance and sustainability by including justice. In his recent Australian tour Tony Campollo shared that:
“Democracy is not when the majority rules, but when it is safe to be in the minority.”
For a community to be REALLY thriving no one gets left behind.
Thriving requires us to balance individual and community; action and justice; recognising both needs and assets; considering both environment and process arts.
Fundamentally thriving involves CO-CREATING and co-evolving with “enthusiasm towards opportunity rather than fear from catastrophe.” (from definition of “Thrivability” on www.appropropedia.org)
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