Holistic change in communities: a checklist

by James Harvey.

Christian values and thoughts are desperately needed within development work and should run like a thread through the whole process of our work. Our lives tell a story. Christians have been described as the 67th book of the Bible. People read our lives, our words and our actions and draw conclusions about our faith from them.  The way we live our lives declares whom we love and on whom we depend. We are all witnessing all the time. 

Here are some useful ideas for us to consider when assessing our lives and our commitment to holistic change. Try reflecting on just two or three of these each day, either on your own or with colleagues.

In our work

  • Glorify God in all we do.
  • Use the Bible as a reference and guide for all our development work.
  • Stand with and encourage those who are suffering.
  • Ask for God's power in all the situations we are involved with.
  • Show people the relevance of the Bible by relating it to their own situation.
  • Stand up for justice and against injustice at all times.
  • In church services, include issues concerning the community, justice and the practical outworking of biblical values.

In our actions

  • Love the poor.
  • See the image of God in everyone, no matter what they are like.
  • Listen before we speak.
  • Live lives that raise questions in others to which the gospel is the answer.
  • Display sensitivity.
  • Use our knowledge and creativity to assist and support churches and people in their work.

In our beliefs

  • Think more highly of others than ourselves and desire to serve people.
  • Have a passion for helping people find their true identity and gifts.
  • See ourselves as stewards of the gifts and possessions God has given us.
  • Have a repentant spirit and be willing to seek forgiveness.
  • Have that genuine humility that should come from being in Christ.

In our personal lives

  • Live reliable and honest lives.
  • Be flexible in our response to situations.
  • Live a life that shares God's love.
  • Be open to the Holy Spirit directing us.
  • Be willing to speak about our strengths and weaknesses.
  • Grow in our understanding and obedience to God's word.
  • Be dependent on God.
  • Be welcoming.
  • Love God with all our heart, mind and soul.
  • Be a good neighbour.
  • Be patient in all situations.
  • Be prepared to let God use us at any time.

If you haven't managed to meet all of these yet, don't be surprised, none of us has! But don't give up, either - keep persevering! God's strength and grace are enough to pick us up each time we fall short.

Adapted from the book Christian Wholistic Development by CRUDAN.  James Harvey has recently completed two years working with CRUDAN in Jos, Nigeria. This book is shortly to be published and is also available in electronic format - see page 14.