Organizing for Mission: New Testament Perspectives and Strategies

“Marked with the cross of Christ forever, we are claimed, gathered, and sent for the sake of the world.”

The purpose of this web site is to develop and share resources that connect the arts of community organizing and the interpretation of New Testament texts and relate them in practical ways to the mission of the church. This is a collaborative project for leaders interested in using community organizing wisdom as a lens for reading the New Testament, and in providing Biblical and theological grounding for community organizing mission strategies.

Community organizing is a relational strategy for renewing and strengthening communities that value interdependence and a sense of belonging. The New Testament is a collection of documents that presuppose communities of faith gathered around the possibility of new life through the death and resurrection of Christ and called to continue God's mission in the world God created and loves. 

There are a variety of different approaches to interpreting the New Testament, but the one advanced here aims to interpret the New Testament through a lens focused on mission and proposes a communal model of interpretation committed to discerning how to embody the pattern of life together in Christ for the sake of the world.

"Our church, which has been fighting in these years only for its self-preservation, as though that were an end in itself, is incapable of taking the word of reconciliation and redemption to mankind and the world" 

Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison

Reading the New Testament with A Community Organizing Lens

Reasons for using the arts of community organizing as a lens for reading the New Testament:

A challenge in interpreting the New Testament with an emphasis on mission is the perception that its message is primarily religious. In contemporary cultural contexts in which religious, social, political and economic issues tend to be compartmentalized, mission tends to be conceived of in religious terms. But Jesus was the leader of a renewal movement within Judaism that dealt with religious, social, economic and political issues in an integrated fashion. Followers of Jesus were convinced that by raising Jesus from the dead God had initiated a thoroughgoing transformation of the world. This transformation would begin to occur in the present through communities empowered by the Spirit to embody the message and mission of Jesus throughout the cities of the Roman Empire.

The New Testament is a collection of texts produced by a mission movement, that is, a network of communities with the common purpose of commending a way of life in Jesus to the Roman imperial world. There is no straightforward way to move from the New Testament to mission strategies and practices in contemporary contexts. The arts of community organizing offer practical wisdom for engaging local communities that is convergent with the message and mission of Jesus as it finds expression in the New Testament.
The time, energy and resources of many churches are devoted primarily to the gathered community. Generally speaking the church has not been as effective in attending to and developing strategies for engaging communities in which they are situated. Community organizing focuses on the local contexts into which the people are sent, and offers a method and tools for connecting the mission of the church to the assets and issues of the community in which it resides.