Below are a few resources that remain meaningful and foundational for me. They include tools to help you understand the context in which you live, to begin grassroots community organizing, and cultivate the wholeheartedness required for sustainable ministry. These are generalist tools. I'm always on the lookout for more, so expect new items from time to time.
Four urban missiologists -- Ron Boyce, Ray Bakke, Fr. Ben Beltran and Randy White -- lay out a framework for listening to the people of our cities and neighborhood, discovering the unique character of our places, and using that information to guide our ministry. (source: Randy White and Bakke Grad School)
A comprehensive list of questions to help you notice and think about the many aspects of our urban environments including: the built environment, the local economy, demographics and cultures, local institutions, and much more.
A guide for churches or other groups who want to not just serve, but connect, relate and genuinely partner with their neighborhood. Provides a process along with questions for interviewing neighbors to identify their values, concerns, and assets.
Comprehensive but digestible breakdown of the traditional approach to Community Organizing that goes back to Saul Alinsky. A great primer to the practice. (source: Denver University, Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning)
John McKnight, one of the originators of the Asset-Based Approach to community organizing, offers a twenty page crash course on identifying and capitalizing on a neighborhood's assets to create positive change and cultivate community.
One-to-ones are the cornerstone and first step of organizing. They are a method for connecting with folks in a community or congregation, getting to know them, what they care about, and what connections they have. This one page guide explains how to get started.
Nouwen expresses a simple but profound vision of the spiritual life, one that holds our innate human needs and vocations in creative tension. I've found this to be a wise guide for sustenance in the trenches of ministry among the marginalized.
This is my spiritual director Kent Ira Groff's adaptation of the Ignatian practice of daily examen. The Examen provides a path to discern God's presence and make sense of the chaos of a day, while centering us on Christ in the midst of competing priorities. It blesses me particularly as a way to look at myself graciously as God's beloved while still challenging me to a higher plane of living.
Fr. Thomas Keating offered the path of centering prayer as a contemporary repackaging of the ancient Christian contemplative tradition -- particularly rooted in The Cloud of Unknowing and (more recently) Thomas Merton's insights. Centering Prayer is a method to empty ourselves and become filled with Christ through solitude and silence.