What if your local newspaper featured more headlines about Christians in your town extending the love of Christ to their community and fewer headlines about the social ills that plague you or the disagreements that divide you? What if our neighbors saw the Church contributing more to the common good of our communities than Sunday traffic issues and an occasional fall festival?
An increasing number of Christians are answering the call to a different kind of service that extends beyond the walls of the church to a sustained, intentional presence among their neighbors; there, they are finding rich and rewarding opportunities to “seek the peace and prosperity of the city,” as Jeremiah commanded the exiles in Babylon.
These followers of Christ are living out their faith in creative and courageous ways, such as moving into low-income neighborhoods and forming new relationships, using the arts to reconcile races and cultures, and starting small businesses to provide needed jobs and opportunities. In an important paradigm shift, these methods of community engagement are increasingly growing out of community-identified (rather than church-named) assets and needs, and in the process, churches are gaining trust and credibility among their neighbors.
Christian Community Development (CCD) is a pilot initiative of the Courageous Churches team seeking to encourage congregations to develop life transformational culture through an incarnational, wholistic engagement of their communities. We believe that when Virginia Baptist churches and leaders seek the peace of their own cities through intentional presence among the under-resourced, these experiences will transform and renew both community and congregation. By supporting and resourcing this kind of evangelical civic engagement, we hope to see Virginia Baptists find and generate relevance and hope in their communities through a sustained contribution to the common good.