Community Transformation and Development

Traditionally “ministry success” is measured by the number of churches planted, the number of people attending those churches or the number of people who have prayed the “sinner’s prayer” and the number of people in bible study groups. However we believe that a real barometer of a ministry’s effectiveness is transformed individuals, families and communities.

As we pray for God’s kingdom to be established in our societies, we also pray and work to build Christ-centered communities that are growing in righteousness/justice and maturing in love towards individuals, families and other communities. The basic step here is discipling people so that they become followers of Christ, but also doing it in a holistic manner that includes both evangelism and socio-political action — outreach efforts that will include word, works and wonders (Mt. 28:18-20; Luke 4:18-19; Rom. 15:18-19; 1 Pet. 2:9-10).

providing school supplies and livelihood training at Norzagaray
Left: Providing school supplies for students at Norzagaray. Right: livelihood training for families at Norzagaray. Photos courtesy of Jun and Laura Mercolita of Life Care Center (Bulacan)

At Stargrass Coalition (SGC) we believe that the Scriptures teach clearly that Christians must be concerned for the poor. Most of the work of people in our network among the poor is done in a holistic manner. This involves helping them to become followers of Jesus, enabling them to get out of poverty by giving them access to employment and/or business opportunities and providing a structural framework that will provide tangible opportunities to develop their God-given skills and abilities. The latter will involve freeing them from oppressive systems and traditions that keep them poor while enabling them to help themselves and even help others like them, especially through social entrepreneurship.

So many mistakes have been committed in the past, even by sincere and compassionate Christians, and we are continuing to learn how to do this work more effectively. We do not want to use our work of compassion in a self-serving way, e.g. helping people materially so that we can hook them towards our “religion” or church. Neither do we want to create communities who are dependent on us for material and financial aid.

packing and distributing relief supplies for earthquake and typhoon victims
Left: packing relief supplies for Bohol earthquake victims (LAMP Foundation Int’l). Right: distributing relief goods for Yolanda victims.

This kind of holistic approach, especially among the poor, is not new. Christian development organizations and mission agencies have been planting churches this way, many times using people with some training in community development. The Holy Spirit has led many of us at SGC to help the poor and underprivileged through community organizing, initiating livelihood projects, initiating and equipping locals for natural and organic farming, providing educational assistance and most especially helping organize cooperatives and social enterprises — all of which are geared towards holistic community transformation.

Many in our network are also involved in disaster relief and rehabilitation as we seek to share the love of Christ to our less-fortunate countrymen. Examples are the relief work after the 2013 Bohol earthquake and Operation Hope, a transformational relief and rehabilitation project for the 2013 Typhoon Yolanda victims.

Together with partner groups such as Asian School of Development and Cross-Cultural Studies (ASDECS) we are now conducting training for community transformation, seeking to help others whom God has drawn into this kind of work. These include trainings and certifications on community organizing, organic and natural farming, financial literacy, investing and social entrepreneurship, and healthy lifestyles.

For related articles visit the following:

Vision and Mission of the Global House Church Movement

How to Really Help the Poor