Restoring At-Risk Communities, My Book Review

I'm gonna get straight to the point about this book and just say that EVERY church that has a Dream Center or an inner city campus should use this book as a guide on how to do what they are attempting to do. It's that good. It's that spot on.

Restoring At-risk Communities is the Official handbook of the Community Development Association. 

This is from the "About" page on the CCDA web site..
Many of us have a deep sense that the world is not as it should be. Broken relationships. Divided communities. Poverty and violence in our neighborhoods . . .
The good news is that God longs to work through us to help restore things to the way they were intended to be. In the language of the Old Testament, this wholeness is called shalom—a state where nothing is missing and nothing is broken.
The Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) is a network of Christians committed to seeing people and communities wholistically restored. We believe that God wants to restore us not only to right relationship with Himself but also with our own true selves, our families and our communities. Not just spiritually, but emotionally, physically, economically, and socially. Not by offering mercy alone, but by undergirding mercy with justice.

To this end, we follow Jesus's example of reconciliation. We go where the brokenness is. We live among the people in some of America's neediest neighborhoods. We become one with our neighbors until there is no longer an "us" and "them" but only a "we." And, in the words of the Prophet Jeremiah, "we work and pray for the well-being of our city [or neighborhood]," trusting that if the entire community does well and prospers, then we will prosper also.

Those of us who orient our lives around this practice we call Christian Community Development (CCD) Practitioners. As Practitioners, we often commit to living in an under-resourced neighborhood for a minimum of 10 years. This is obviously no easy task. But we believe that true and lasting change takes time and requires real relationships. We think this approach is pretty unique.

The CCD philosophy can be summed up by the three "R's": Relocation, Reconciliation, and Redistribution. Learn more about our philosophy and our Practitioners.

Click here to download a copy of CCDA's 2010 Annual Report.

Here is a video from their web site that sums up what Community Development Association is all about.

Also check out their web site,

I have worked in the inner city since 2006.
I love the hood. I don't say that in a "I love it but I hate it also" kinda way. I say that in a "when I drive into the 70805 I feel alive" kinda way.
I get mad when people say "well, it's just their culture" in reference to actions or stereo types of the people there. I get mad when people paint an "us and them" picture dividing us into categories.

Yet, when I was reading this book I felt so convicted that I too had been living an us and them mentality in many ways.

The most convicting section of this book was the part about Relocation. I felt a light bulb go on in my heart when reading about how we are all to eager to encourage, support financially, praise people who go to foreign countries as missionaries in dangerous, war torn, poverty and disease stricken areas yet, if someone feels called to move into the inner cities, where crime is rampant, schools are horrific, etc, we think it's too dangerous.

So we live in the suburbs and commute to our calling. At night we get to come home to our safe suburban houses, away from the people we profess to love and want to help.

Yea. That's convicting. 

What's weird is after reading this book I thought about talking to Dean and seeing what he thought about praying about and really considering moving into the 70805. I really didn't know how he would respond. But as always, God had talked to Dean first and Dean was on the same page as I was. He also was thinking that we should look into it.

But the book does recommend that you get several families to move into the hood with you. So, we have to work on that part. And as with Dean, I got a feeling God is talking to them already too.

We'll see what happens.

There is so much I could say about this book but I want to reiterate the point that if you desire to help the poor here in the U.S. you need to read this book. If you are a church leader, pastor, teacher, whatever, and you want to teach your congregation how to really be effective in the transformation of inner city communities, you should read this book and use all the resources of CCDA to teach your people how to do it effectively.


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