Tag Archive: CCDA 2013

so this morning Halle Berry [well not quite, Michelle someone, but she looked a bunch like Halle… no, I’m not saying that the speaker looked like Halle which if you say it out loud is a  lot more humourful but moving on] gave a standing ovation worthy [not from me cos great amazing speech and all but i tend to keep my standing for Jesus unless something really does something different to me] talk on the topic of incarceration and it really was incredibly good and gave a lot of insight and [shocking] information on the topic but for most of the talk i was sitting there thinking internally ‘okay i get it – we have a big bad bag of smelly poo here – i really get it – but please don’t leave me with a big bad smelly bag of poo – tell me something i can do about it’ – and towards the end she did a little bit but then there was a panel afterwards [with her on it] that dug a little bit deeper and got a little bit more practical and story-full on the what we can do aspect [although she called for a movement, so pretty much something huge is needed cos the issue is so flippen smelly-bag-of-poo big and bad!] but ja quite a heavy topic. i didn’t take a lot of notes cos it was needing to be munched as a whole rather than appreciated as sound bytes, but did get a few thoughts:

# Charity is not enough. We have to work for justice!

# We have to take on the system.

# There needs to be [and I’ve thought this for years] a shift from a punitive approach when it comes to incarceration to a more compassionate and restorative approach! 

The system is the way it is… but it’s not the way it has to be… Such a powerful statement which a group or tribe or nation need to take on for it to gain much momentum [o a congregation, denomination, fraternal or city-wide collection of church congregations i guess]

# I liked this one – we have to care for the victim… AND the perpetrator AND the community… 

Michelle told a story of speaking in a church and saying “We’re all sinners” and everyone cheered… and then a little later she said “We’re all criminals” and there was silence… [but think about it – speeding, pirating, tax stuff etc etc – a large majority of us have committed criminal acts] so there seems to be this huge aspect of shame linked to being a criminal or even having that in the past…

What hit me was what someone commented to her: “How come we are so eager to admit we violate God’s laws, but shamed when it comes to mans.” Oof, right between the eyes!

Yeah. A lot of work to be done here. And going to take a concerted effort from a unified group of people and groups. So good to hear from some people on the panel who are working with prisoners, and former prisoners in various ways. Some inspiring people.

[For most powerful samplings of this evening click here]

Okay, so wanted to share some more sound bytes from the CCDA Conference i am currently attending in New Orleans…

highlights of day 2 so far was really just connection with people before and after sessions – old friends, new friends and even old friends of new friends… someone spoke out on the leadership panel this morning against the idea of people being called “human resources” but whatever the word or phrase they would like to use to describe the phenomenon, there is certainly an abundance of great resource contained in a lot of the humans i have met here… so just a wealth of experience and understanding and creativity and really trying to connect with a bunch of quality folks this week and hoping something will rub off somewhere.

after preaching about God being hot a few weeks ago [not really] i am learning to contextualise my speak now that i am among local foreigners and especially after lunch when i was telling the story of how i once took a third class train from Cape Town to Johannesburg in South Africa and it was so hectic that at one point this drug dealer in my cabin offered me protection… i meant that he would protect me from danger [not that he was offering me a condom, Erin!] and so always good to make sure people get what you’re offering them.

so fun times, good food, dangerously placed Starbucks, but it has good wi-fi so think of all the “money i am saving”

this morning’s worship time was again a powerful time – a very diverse crowd makes for diverse expressions of worship and although i’m sure we’d all love a lot more, it has been great to at least sing one song per session in a different language… this morning was Spanish and it was stunning.


Looking at the message to the church in Ephesus from Revelations 2 the message was pretty simple but powerful.

Mark 1.35 – Jesus got up early to go and pray – and as much as all the pastory and leadery types [myself included] nod vigorously when this is spoken, we can not hear enough cos i will bet you there is a considerable number of people in that hall [me included] who could do with ‘being still and knowing’ a lot more regularly and intently. So encouragement and gentle challenge to deepen your walk with God by spending time with Him. Help me, God.

The idea that Jesus had no Lone Ranger mentality – the interesting note that the only time we see Jesus alone once He has started His ministry is when He went off to spend time with His Father. Rest of the time He surrounded Himself with people. The idea that ministry is done in the context of community. And if you are out there doing it on your own, you are more that likely doing it wrong [easy clues are when you refer to what you are doing as “my ministry” or “my church” or perhaps when the ministry website is your name dot com?]

The idea that WORD plus DEED is the theological understanding [building on last night – PROCLAMATION plus DEMONSTRATION]

# be close to God

# be in community with others

# know your mission [proclaim the word of God. demonstrate it]

Powerful statement by John Perkins that “This is the first generation that values diversity” and I suspect that for the most part he is probably right [to a much greater extent than previous generations at least]


Calling this ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’ might sound offensive towards those participating on the panel, but i am not talking looks here – just that that phrase does justice to the overall of how i felt about the panel this morning being asked a bunch of questions relating to community development and then interacting on their answers. Some really good stuff, some random in-between stuff and a little bit of “uh-uh you didn’t.” But for the most part medium to good, with some gems.

# Someone reminded me of the Jewish proverb “May the dust of the rabbi be upon you,” the idea that you are following so close behind your teacher and mentor that you literally wear their dust. Reminded me of Paul’s “Follow me as I follow Christ.” 

# A call to anglo-white leaders that we need to be know this – that God does not show up when i show up. He is already working in all these neighborhoods. i don’t “bring God”

 [Maybe we can add to that the knowledge that God loves these people way more than i ever will and He is more amped about His Kingdom than i will ever be!]

# In an answer dealing with how various culture groups view other culture groups a one liner that someone one lined was ‘The demon of superiority is there. We need to overcome it’ which is as self-explanatory as you need.

# Building on last night again we heard that the purpose of you moving into a community [one of the big pillars of CCDA is RELOCATION] is not to change it. It is to find a person and to pour yourself into them and watch as they change the community. [Isaiah 61]

# This was an interesting point which i don’t think i have considered before. As the dominant culture [white people] we don’t need to learn other cultures [that is the reality that is, not the one that should be] whereas the minority cultures always have to learn the predominant culture [one example is westernised time and the idea that a meeting has to start on time which you don’t find so much in the Latino and African communities – we come in with the assumption that our idea of time is right and the minority culture has to learn that or be left behind or severely judged or corrected]. And this was accompanied by the idea that there are a bunch of assumptions to challenge. One of them would be the question of ‘What is success?’ and another one that came out quite a bit through different questions and answers was ‘What is a leader?’

The importance of asking, ‘What did you learn from your family and from your community about leadership?’ And a bunch of other important questions we need to give time to.

# The idea of needing to course correct. Not 180 degrees which is what it often sounds like people want. Realisation that as with the church in Ephesus [Revelations 2] there is a bunch of stuff we are doing right or have gotten right… but we definitely need to slightly alter the direction of this ship in certain ways. The assumptions of one cultures superiority over another being a huge one. The question of who mentors you and the need for non-white mentors. So ask yourself this: Who were the authors of the last ten books you read? Who were the last ten speakers you listened to sermons from? Who is shaping your worldview? And if you are serious about desiring diversity then that is a good and probably quite easy place to begin.

Just some snippets, but hopefully you managed to find some gems in there that spark something in you.

[For even more from evening 2 of the conference, click here]

This is my third Christian Community Development Association conference and definitely a highlight of the year meeting people from all over Americaland of all shapes and backgrounds and sizes involved in all kinds of different areas of community development dealing with things from poverty to human trafficking and from education to incarceration and more.

A high percentage of quality people all squeezed into one place for a couple of days… and just so much goodness. Today was pretty much a registration day and intro to the thing and yet i feel like already there has been so much to take away. Connecting with Erin [who was hugely involved in running CCDA the last 6 years and is now working at the Simple Way where we used to be] and catching up with old friends and having dinner with bossman, John and ‘the beard’ [aka Scott who we met a week ago at our friends Mark and Lisa’s place] and having some great conversations…

And then two powerful talks… i don’t want these blog posts to be a blow by blow account of what I’m experiencing at this conference but i hope to share some glimpses and potential gems that will hopefully be an encouragement to whoever reads these:


Noel Castellanos, president of the CCDA, a man i have come to respect a lot over my last two conferences, gave the opening address which was really powerful. Had a diagram which highlighted different areas of how CCDA gets involved and how each area is not enough without the next one. So CCDA has been really good at incarnation, which i blogged about the other day in terms of living in the communities of the people you are working with. He made an interesting point about Jesus linked to both Galilee and Nazareth with the question ‘Which neighborhood did God move into?’

He spoke about Proclamation and Formation. So it is not enough to just proclaim a message but you have to live it out and it has to be able to bring transformation in people as well. He made what was probably his most between-the-eyes point when he proclaimed that ‘Evangelism from the outside feels like drive-by evangelism.’ [I feel like this is a point tbV would have loved!] But that’s exactly what a lot of it is – without any kind of long-term relationship a lot of well intentioned ministry can feel a lot by driving into neighborhoods, dropping stuff off and then hightailing it out of there. [We don’t want to be contaminated by those we’re serving, after all?]

He said that when you add Formation to Proclamation then you see a demonstration of compassion.

Compassion [crisis help] is not the ultimate cure for poverty. If ten years later you are still ‘helping this family out’ then perhaps that isn’t the best thing. It is important for a while but you need to move on to Restoration and Development. 

Then he finished by saying he thought all of those things were the picture, but that he had come to realise over 30 years of doing community development stuff that there was another one. “When you put the poor at the heart of our concern like it is at the heart of God’s concern, the forces of hell will come against you.” The last one that needs to be taken on is Confrontation of Justice. Taking on the systems and mindsets that have helped create the problems that you are facing.


Leroy Barber was head of Mission Year and has just become the Global Director for Word MadeFlesh and he is also, i believe, the chairman of the board of CCDA. He preached some heat off of Isaiah 61:

1 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3     and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.

4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins
    and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
    that have been devastated for generations.

And the most powerful point i got out of his message came from the whole comparison where ashes have become beauty, mourning has become joy and despair has become praise… which is all great and fine and good, but then he followed it up with something i had not thought of before… Firstly there is the transformation of these people [formerly the ones with the ashes, mourning and despair] becoming oaks of righteousness, but then it is THEY [verse 4] who will be the ones who rebuild the ancient ruins.

Leroy got so excited and animated about this point and rightly so. Looking at the audience he shouted at them, ‘That’s why so many of you get burned out.’ ‘That’s why you need five holidays a year.’ Because the focus has always been on you rebuilding the city from the ruins… when this passage seems to indicate it is those who have been transformed [by the work you have done/been involved in] who are the ones who will do the rebuilding.

He challenged all the leaders at CCDA that next year he wants to see each person having brought one of those upcoming leaders with them. Those are the ones who need to be here.

Ooh. Wow. So good. My soul already feels somewhat cultivated. Can’t wait for a full day of this tomorrow…

[For more from Day two of the conference, click here]

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