Linthicum, R., Building a People of Power: Equipping Churches to Transform Their Communities
By: Benjamin Knoll
CH1: WHERE TO BEGIN
We have the responsibility to know what God wants the world to be like, what it's actually like, and then work to bridge the gap between the two.
SHALOM is a Hebrew word that means "welfare, completeness, wholeness, security, perfection, peace." A vision of what the whole world can be.
Lived out in political (acting justly and mercifully), religious (bringing people into relationship with God), and economic systems (stewardship and elimination of poverty).
MONEY is the primary corruptor of the world achieving its potential in a SHALOM community.
CH2: HOW JESUS BUILT PEOPLE OF POWER
Jesus spent his life in the realization of jubilee for Israelite society, racial, marginalized from dominant system. He saw himself as someone who would work to transform society into God's kingdom.
Jesus "saves us from our sins." True enough. But what are they? Rejecting God and not caring about others, or using the political and economic systems to actively harm others?
We can "free from sin" by working for love of God and love of others, in our political and economic systems as well.
CH3: GOD'S WORK OF SALVATION
Salvation is individual, true. But ALSO corporate and cosmic and social.
God is seeking to transform ("save") our societies and communities. God is actively in love with all of creation (including communities); systems themselves are in need of salvation.
Jesus died on the outskirts of the city, in the garbage heap, between thieves (not in a fancy cathedral). That's where his people are and where they should be working.
CH4: WORKING FOR SHALOM OF SOCIETY
Jesus doesn't say "blessed are the peace-keepers" but rather "shalom-makers" - this is someone actively working to create a shalom community.
The church can do this by setting an example of a shalom community; praying that the shalom community would come; and acting for shalom through acts of political/economic mercy, advocacy, development, etc.
Jesus's power isn't vertical, it's horizontal and relational, that should be how the church does its work as well.
CH5: RELATIONAL POWER'S MOST RADICAL ACT
"You can't bring about justice and equality without building relationships."
People have to sit down and talk to each other, get to know each other, have trust in one another, etc. etc.
This chapter is a "how to" manual in how to do that.
Visiting people, facilitating community conversations, etc. etc. Provide a space where people can share vulnerabilities, find out what is important to them, identify leaders and those with drive/motivation, identify resources and potential allies, etc. etc.
CH6: BUILDING POWER THROUGH IRON RULE
This chapter is about the importance of organizers: those that will start the process by listening to people, identifying goals, connecting people, motivating change, etc. etc.
Organize house meetings, action teams, research actions, then take actions. Goals are to identify leaders, reorganize relationships and power structures, etc.
CH7: CALLING OUT AND BUILDING LEADERS
Identifying and mentoring leaders is very, very important.
Leadership is providing direction and purpose to an organization.
Most important indicator of effective leadership: the cause continues after you because you've mentored and prepared leaders to continue.
Principles that build leaders
People of vision, passion, risk, and validation
Capacity to trust (not micromanage)
Discern potentials in people and call them out
Foster close relationships
Uses informal situations for teaching
Action and reflection is primary pedagogy
Be willing to confront and "speak truth in love."
Stretch those you're mentoring
Then let them loose and trust they'll do well.
CH8: WHAT IS IT ABOUT ORGANIZING THAT EMPOWERS PEOPLE?
Action-reflection allows people to see new ways of thinking and feeling. It's empowering to see how well that they can do.
This is ultimately an act of community conversion.
It's about enabling people to free themselves from the situations that they're in.
CH9: CONFRONTATION, NEGOTIATION, AND USING POWER
It's a fact: Jesus, Moses, Paul, etc. etc. all CONFRONTED those with power and spoke truth to them, even at great personal cost to themselves.
Part of organizing is being willing to confront sometimes and then negotiate.
CH10: VALUES AND STORIES (IT WASN'T ABOUT BUILDING A WALL…)
Community organizing is more effective if people feel connected to a story and a specific identity group (of our neighborhood, e.g.)
Determine, articulate, and then own the values that define the community; realize potential and celebrate past successes of the community
Act on those values; create plans for change around those values.
Create symbols, celebrations, and permanent people's organizations
Focus on diverse religious community identities and pluralism
CH11: WHAT KIND OF TRANSFORMATION ARE WE SEEKING?
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT is a key strategy often employed in the U.S. today. This is about creating environments to attract business that will then create jobs, boost economic growth, etc. etc.
PROBLEM: it focuses on $$$ and often is great for the middle class but not for the poor, who are often left out of these types of programs.
BETTER: COMMUNITY ORGANIZING -- the types that have been identified in this book
A church shouldn't see itself as a fortress (preserving its own life) or as a savior of the community (provide evangelism and good works).
Instead, a church should be a PARTNER WITH the community: the church is one actor among many in the community working for shalom transformation.