The 9 Signs

What transformation looks like

 

The 9 Signs of a Transforming Community
Our mission is to create churches that transform slums. But what does transformation actually look like? We have developed 9 signs of a transforming community to help address this question. While change will look different around the world, we have identified these eight common elements of transformation. We strive to empower indigenous community members to take the lead and guide their own efforts in transformation; providing a broad framework to inform such indigenousleadership is essential.

Jesus Communities:  Reproducing, Transformational Communities of Jesus Followers
Civic Good:  Increased Civic Participation for the Common Good
Lifelong Learning:  Increased Accessibility to Life-Enhancing Education
Wealth at the Bottom:  Expanded Opportunities to Achieve Economic Sufficiency
Breakthrough to Freedom:  Increased Spiritual and Psychological Health and Freedom from Destructive Patterns
Whole Families:  Increased Family Health and Well-Being
Health for All:  Improved Environmental and Community Health
Systems that Work:  Presence of Political, Economic, and Legal Systems that work for the Poor
Beauty and Creativity:  Increased Access to Creative and Artistic Education and Expression

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Jesus Communities

Reproducing, Transformational Communities of Jesus-Followers
A transforming urban poor community has many groups of 5-20 people who are worshipping Jesus, studying the Word, serving one another, praying, inviting others into a personal relationship with Jesus, discipling others, developing leaders, becoming change agents in their own community, and planting new communities that do the same.People are freed from the mentality that they are powerless and insignificant in the world. This reinforces the fact that all healthy transformation is inspired and sustained by God's power at work.

 

Projects related to this sign of transformation:
• Evangelism
• Discipleship
• Leadership development: North Africa: Health over Speed
• Multiplying churches: Around the World and Back Again

Civic Good

Increased Civic Participation for the Common Good
Civic participation means local residents are actively involved in the improvement of the community as a whole through increased volunteerism and participation in democratic processes. For example this could include participation in neighborhood groups, actions organized by those groups, volunteer activities that served children, youth, or the elderly of the community, voter registration, public safety efforts, etc. When leadership develops from within the community to serve the common good, a society emerges that can no longer be controlled by self-serving political or economic groups. Through these efforts emerging, frontline, and community wide leaders are developed.

 

Projects related to this sign of transformation:
• Education of government systems & civil rights
• Anti-corruption education
• Other-focused & servant leadership teaching
• Creation of Community Based Organizations
• Increasing volunteerism and studying best practices of volunteerism

Lifelong Learning

Improved Accessibility to Life-Enhancing Education
While a few urban poor communities offer some educational opportunities, even the best opportunities tend to use an approach that delivers information rather than dignifies the learner and helps him/her actually improve his/her life. A transforming community offers people affordable educational services that lend dignity to the learner, increase a person's ability to reflect on his/her life, move him/her to action and assist in career improvement.

 

Projects related to this sign of transformation:
• Vocational classes
• Youth Ministries – values and leadership education
• Hosting adult education
• Community Business and Education Centers
• Aiding people to access the system
• Literacy

Economic Sufficiency

Expanded Opportunities to Achieve Economic Sufficiency
Economic sufficiency in an urban poor community means that more and more people are integrated into the mainstream economy in the city which then gives them opportunity to provide a living for their families. Rather than sustaining themselves on income that is “under the radar,” the urban poor must have access to the resources (capital, training, materials, etc.) of the wider marketplace. This means not only more jobs, but more bridges to middle and upper class that create opportunities for income growth and greater productivity.

 

Projects related to this sign of transformation:
• Micro-credit programs
• Social enterprise
• Vocational training
• Personal financial management
• Accessing and networking with proven business experts
• Small business training and development
• Business ethics

Breakthrough to Freedom

Increased Spiritual and Psychological Health and Freedom from Destructive Patterns
A transforming community supports those who seek freedom from addictions, the occult, and other destructive patterns while they develop healthy, sustainable lifestyles that produce healthy relationships. They are freed from violence and criminal activity. People receive counseling, participate in programs, and receive prayer ministry to free them from past pain and destructive lifestyle choices.

 

Projects related to this sign of transformation:
• Fasting and prayer
• Accountability (12 step groups)
• Inner healing ministry
• Teaching on destructiveness of activities and access to freedom
• Intensive retreats

Whole Families

Increased Family Health and Well-Being
A transforming community helps families free themselves from domestic violence, sexual abuse, divorce, teen pregnancy, and other patters that destroy the health and unity of the family. Urban poor families are going through a major paradigm shift from traditional values developed over centuries in their villages to modern urban lifestyles embraced by their children. This produces relational breakdowns that most families do not survive. Through support/recovery groups of every kind, family social services, and youth development, families will have a opportunity to adapt to the changing world around them.

 

Health for All

Improved Environmental and Community Health
A transforming community works to address the physical well being of individuals, families and the larger community. Disease prevention, education and direct services that help residents reduce the spread of preventable diseases are crucial parts of an urban poor community that wants to improve the quality of life for its residents. Addressing the environmental degradation in an urban poor community is the partner of public health. Creating clean neighborhoods, green spaces, and healthy environments outside the home are essential elements of a sustainable community.

 

Projects related to this sign of transformation:
• Clean water projects & rain water harvesting, possibly for-profit
• Health & Environmental Education
• Starting pharmacies or clinics (vaccinations, dental)
• HIV/AIDS education
• Models of trash removal (for-profit, community based, etc.)
• Rooftop or urban gardening (for-profit, community based, etc.)

Systems That Work

Presence of Political, Economic, and Legal Systems that Work for the Poor
Most systems that govern an urban poor community are based on power that serves a few. A transforming community develops systems that serve those who are usually kept out of the decision making processes that affect their lives. Transformed political systems protect members of the community and seek to empower those who do not already have a voice. Transformed economic markets create opportunities for the poor to make a sustainable, livable wage. Transformed legal systems bring justice to those who cannot find it. Transformed social systems insure that people of all classes, cultures, and ethnicities have relational access to the power brokers of society. Reconciliation is sought between people from different groups. In this category communities will develop/identify organizational and movement leaders.

 

Projects related to this sign of transformation:
• Improving public education
• Advocacy
• Housing projects, available and affordable housing
•Transparency and accountability mechanisms (government, organizations…)
• Land rights
• Anti-human trafficking
• Better banking systems & access to capital
• Racism & Reconciliation
• Improving basic services and infrastructure (brick and mortar)

 

Beauty and Creativity

Increased Access to Creative and Artistic Education and Expression
Because we are made in our Creator’s image and likeness, we are endowed with creativity and a love for beauty. In a transforming community beauty, creativity, and artistic expression flourish on an individual and communal level in a way that serves individuals and the community as a whole. Various arts and forms of beauty and creative expression are used to transform the demeaning ugliness of poverty, to deepen empathy with others, to empower people’s voices, to refine our imaginations, and to create times and spaces for internal reflection, joy, and healing. Through creative expression and the arts we seek to more truly and clearly see the world as it is, as well as the world as it should be, with God’s shalom and kingdom coming.

 

Projects related to this sign of transformation:
• Increased access to creative and artistic education and expression
• Individual and communal access to opportunities for restoration and connection through the arts
• Creation of beautiful, green, restful, and resonant spaces to live, work, rest, and play
•The use of the arts in projects focusing on emotional healing, communal healing from trauma, leadership empowerment, spiritual reflection, and experiencing the presence of Jesus