missional chinese proverb

I started reading FREE TO BE BOUND: CHURCH BEYOND THE COLOR LINE by Jonathan Wilson-Hargrove last night. John Perkins, cofounder of the Christian Community Development Association writing the forward shares a Chinese proverb that his organization has used over the years in serving various communities. It reflects the heart of missional life and ministry and a good insight in the overall conversation.

Go to the people

Live among them

Learn from them

Love them

Start with what they know

Build on what they have

The best leaders, when their work is finished

There task is done

The people need to say ‘we have done it ourselves.’

This statement flows well with the element of reciprocity that is so crucial to engaging and impacting particular communities and reflective of Christ’s mode of operation.

Taking this approach will require that we engage as Michael Frost suggests in describing “missional” to the 2007 PGF; from a place of Proximity, Presence, Powerlessness and Proclamation. From our individualistic western mindsets, powerlessness seems the most difficult to accomplish. Much of service in the area of community development is done by those in the place of power (possessing money, resources, leadership, knowledge) that there is often the sense those receiving have nothing to offer. The reality is that often what is needed for community transformation to occur already exists among those receiving help, if only time were taken to learn from those in the real know.

Maybe this proverb has something to do with the overall success of Christian Community Development Association.


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