The five main sessions of the CCDA annual conference took us on a journey into five community development themes of Subversion, Synergy, Solidarity, Simplicity and Symphony.
Day One: Subversion
Our main speakers were Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner, husband of the late Rev. Tom Skinner, and Dr. Soong-Chan Rah, professor at North Park Seminary.
How do we subvert the status quo? Can we imagine an alternative way of living out Jesus' kingdom values in a world that elevates the haves over the havenots and fear over hope?
Dr. Skinner was a powerful communicator and challenged us to mentor young people into the freedom we have in Christ, not fear. Freedom over fear.
Dr. Rah has studied and written extensively on the topic of the Next Evangelicalism. That's a fancy term for describing the movement of the global church. One hundred years ago, Europe and North America were the center of the Church. Today, the global South leads the way. Put simply: the Church is no longer "white", as the West has too long believed.
Dr. Rah challenged us to open our eyes to the present reality of the global multi-ethnic, multi-cultural Church. So, if this is true, he posed, then why are we beholden to an ecclesiology of the western "white" church? This is not a racist statement against Caucasians, but rather a wake-up call to see that God is turning the systems of the world upside down, the weak are surpassing the strong. "The white man" has held the power for centuries, but now the Gospel is empowering believers around the globe from every tribe and tongue. We have much to learn from our African or Brazilian or Indian brothers and sisters!
Focusing in on our own nation, Dr. Chah, told us to look around. We will soon be a nation of minorities, where the minorities will be the majority. How will we respond as the Body of Christ? If we want to work in the inner-city, and we are white and we have never had a non-white mentor, then we had better be careful, he cautioned.
Through the lens of the prophet Haggai, Dr. Chah encouraged us that the best thing we can "redistribute" (one of the three pillars of CCDA) to the broken heaps of rubble in our devastated inner-cities is Jesus, himself. Not another program. Jesus. He will bring beauty out of the rubble.