A different way to transform our communities!
March 24th, 2015
By Paul Bartlett

“Communities won’t first know what they need until they first know what they have!” Peter Kenyon

I want to tell you about a revolution we’ve had at Lighthouse in recent years. Essentially it’s revolved around a shift in our community engagement from simply finding a need and meeting it to discovering the strengths and assets of our community and working with them. I think we should never get to the point of thinking that we are doing so well that we don’t need to improve or learn from anybody else. At Lighthouse we’re always trying to learn from others. I’m constantly borrowing ideas from other people and churches and organisations.

Our new approach is one I learned about from social entrepreneur and community enthusiast Peter Kenyon. I was introduced to Peter Kenyon when he was a guest speaker at our Community Conference held at Lighthouse several years ago. We had no idea then what a huge shift in thinking it would bring to our church. We also had no idea how much it would change our people to go and transform their community! I’m so excited about it that I reckon every church should take a look at.

It’s called ABCD, which stands for Asset-Based Community Development. Over recent years this ABCD approach has helped us to focus on what we actually have in our hands already, not on what we don’t have. I like it because it’s the ‘glass half full’ approach to community transformation.

Let’s face it, we grow our own churches by helping people discover their gifts and their talents. In other words, we help our people discover and make use of what they’re good at and where their strengths are. So I asked myself, Why don’t we do that with our community as well? Let’s help them find their strengths as well!

So we did. And when we did that, we connected with a whole bunch of people we never would have otherwise met. It led us to get involved with things our community loves, things they are passionate about, and things that are important to them. There’s nothing better for our city or town to see than their local church loving what they love. After all, we expect them to connect with the thing we love—Church. So why wouldn’t we start by joining them in what they love?

I’ll share more about the ABCD model in following blog posts!