Making Neighborhoods Whole by Wayne Gordon and John M. Perkins
I'll be upfront. I'm a John M. Perkins groupie. His longstanding commitment to building up under-resourced communities; his dedication to living out the gospel in economically, socially, and spiritually depressed environments; his commitment to racial reconciliation despite experiencing painful and tragic abuses because of race; and his willingness to train another generation that will sacrifice the comforts of life for the sake of the gospel and others—these all greatly inspire me.
And Wayne Gordon is no slouch! For decades he has been committed to urban/cross-cultural ministry and community development and has seen tremendous success with his efforts in Chicago. So I approached Making Neighborhoods Whole: A Handbook for Christian Community Development, (InterVarsity Press, 2013) co-authored by these two men, with an understanding of their philosophy of ministry and a familiarity with their accomplishments.
If you, like me, are familiar with Perkins, Gordon, the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) or have worked in ministries that have intentionally implemented the CCD principles, this book will be a quick and familiar read for you. It explores the eight defining commitments of the CCDA, founded by Perkins and Gordon in 1989. Those commitments are relocation, reconciliation, redistribution, leadership development, listening to the community, being church-based, a holistic approach, and empowerment.
As one familiar with CCDA's transformative work and having read other works by Perkins, most notably With Justice for All and Restoring At-Risk Communities, my expectation, frankly, was for a regurgitation of some previously written concepts. And to some extent that was the case. Certainly the original "3 Rs" of CCD (relocation, reconciliation, and redistribution) are revisited in this text. But the authors also explore the five newer commitments of CCD in deeper ways than in previous writings, articulating the biblical and philosophical underpinnings of each principle.
At CCDA's founding 24 years ago, Perkins and Gordon served as chairman of the board and president respectively. Since that time CCDA has grown from a national conference of about 140 people to a voluntary association of thousands. Perkins and Gordon are men with decades of transformative ministry experience evidenced by changed communities, sustained community development efforts, and mentored leaders now practicing CCD principles in their neighborhoods.
Despite their expertise in this area, Making Neighborhoods Whole draws on the experiences of numerous practitioners from around the country and globe. These folks, most serving at grassroots levels, have contributed stories that offer fleshed-out examples of the CCD philosophy, bringing the book to life and providing real-world illustrations of concepts that might otherwise seem unattainable. The book is a good guide for ministry development, although the addition of chapter reflection questions or items for exploration and implementation might make it more useful for someone just getting started in community ministry.
Kimberlee Johnson serves as chair of the Urban Studies Department of Eastern University. She is the director of the Center for Urban Youth Development at Eastern's Campolo College for Graduate & Professional Studies.