As an insider agitating for community change I have been privileged to work alongside a number of wonderful people. The longer I am involved in this never-ending process I realize that genuine change comes as people change not as systems change. In other words, what we often think of as community change is not about changing policy or statutes or laws, it is about helping people recognize that they themselves are the change that is needed.
Last weekend I attended a training on the 40 Developmental Assets, which is a framework for thinking about helping kids (and adults) have the resources they need to change. The Search Institute (www.search-institute.org) has been working for over 40 years on the premise that kids need certain internal and external assets in order to succeed. Instead of developing programs, Search Institute is focused on changing the way adults (teachers, parents, policy makers and so on) think about kids and creating the assets they need to succeed.
At the end of the day the change that needs to occur is individual change. As people change, their communities change. As communities change larger systems begin to change.
As a Christian my entire focus has been spiritual change- leading people to the gospel for the change that must occur if we are to discover what it means to be right with God and to live as God intended us to.
Addressing change, then, is the most important part of my task as a pastor, community member, parent, and the other roles I have been given. The challenge for me is simple, yet complex: trying to frame the necessity of change in the context of spiritual truth. And here is the rub. Many people I speak to are ‘spiritual’ but without any grounding in truth. How do I live out the gospel so that the undeniable and unchangeable truth of God is preeminent?
Indeed, that is the question and the answer, well, let’s just say it’s in development.