It All Starts With Listening

Introducing The Community Transformation Certificate


20 leaders from 13 cities around the world are practicing community transformation through listening

This story was originally published with the 2021 Annual Report.


One cold afternoon in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan’s westside Meadowgreen neighborhood, a group of women gathered for midday tea—meeting each other for the first time. They shared homemade Persian sweets as their children played together. While the gathering appeared mundane, Kathleen describes it as embodying shalom: “In a neighborhood so divided, isolated, and fearful of one another, these women gathered in safety and trust.”

Kathleen hosted this teatime gathering as a seed project with the Community Transformation Certificate (CTC), a program launched by Servant Partners to train people in our values and strategies, equipping them to respond to needs and opportunities in their own communities. For 12 weeks last fall, 20 global leaders representing 13 cities around the world gathered online to learn how to transform their communities.


“Whether you’re doing leadership development, community organizing, or church-planting, you need to be able to listen,” said Krista-Dawn Kimsey, the Co-General Director of Servant Partners Canada. “We wanted to help participants listen to God, neighbor, and themselves, as a way of engaging in cross-cultural, cross-class relationships for a purpose.”


The CTC consisted of online and in-person meetings, coaching, and community engagement and reflection. The cohort interacted with training material like the theology of shalom, listening and action, sustainable spirituality, and partnership-building.


“[Through the CTC], I learned how to work alongside a community in a learner’s posture that values locally led movements. All healthy community transformation needs to be mutual, so I’m looking forward to seeing how I will be shaped by my community.”

“It’s not rocket science to make transformation happen in your community!” said Liz Fung, Servant Partners Director of Internships. “God is already at work in all the communities we’re in, and skills like listening and creativity give us the traction we need to partner with God. Anybody can do this.”


Meadowgreen renters organized to share stories

Jeremy was another CTC participant from the Meadowgreen neighborhood who wanted to address renters’ concerns about racial and class-based discrimination. After listening to renters for several months, he helped facilitate a gathering where 15 renters shared their stories, concerns, and hopes for better housing. They decided to petition their landlord to replace broken hardware in response to safety concerns.


“[Through the CTC], I learned how to work alongside a community in a learner’s posture that values locally led movements,” Jeremy said. “All healthy community transformation needs to be mutual, so I’m looking forward to seeing how I will be shaped by my community.”


The CTC has since become an ongoing, multilingual recruiting and equipping experience for Servant Partners. While Servant Partners remains focused on long-term, established ministry sites, the CTC helps catalyze transformation wherever participants are, and contributes to their discernment of ministry calling. Learn more at servantpartners.org/certificate.


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