I had the humble privilege of exploring a bit of Atlanta, GA, with Christian Community Developer, Bob Lupton, last week. Bob's passion is to see Christ's Church transition from harmful models of one-way giving and paternalistic serving to creating new models of Christian community development in their own city's neighborhoods. These new models include a holistic re-construction of an identified geographically-focused neighborhood...a combination of housing and economic development partnered with a network of relationships, community building, and intentional neighboring going on across race, culture, income lines...all in the name of Christ for the purpose that all might experience the fullness of life He offers.
South Atlanta is one of the neighborhoods of focus. This beautiful, spray-painted mural frames the gateway into the neighborhood. It's on a wall that belongs to a thrift store, community run coffee shop (www.communitygrounds.org) , and "Earn a Bike" neighborhood bike shop (www.southatlantabikeshop.org). South Atlanta has a strong presence of committed seniors. They, along with FCS Ministries, have been working on bringing in "strategic neighbors" (forty so far) and getting FCS Ministries' help to build and restore homes and catalyze for economic turn-around. Lupton is all about Christ-centered ministry and programs, but one of his mantras is, "You will never serve a community out of poverty; it must become economically viable."
This is a look at one of the villages of East Lake, another neighborhood of focus in Atlanta that has undergone radical transformation over the past 20 years. This neighborhood is mixed-income..half public housing/affordable housing, and half upper-middle income housing. Community chaplains and a strong neighborhood association help keep the vision for holistic health and the weaving of a strong social fabric in the neighborhood. East Lake is also home to the East Lake Golf Club where "Golf with a Purpose" and the East Lake Foundation have helped empower the community through Purpose Built Communities.
If you're interested in learning more about Lupton or some of his work, you can order his latest book, Toxic Charity here.