Our mission is to transform urban slums. But what’s the goal of transformation and what does transformation actually look like?
We have come to adopt the term “holistic transformational development” to describe what we seek to effect in the urban poor communities in which we live and work. For us the goal of “holistic transformational development” includes:
1. To promote trusting, reconciled and just relationships between people, where they are able to enjoy fullness of life in harmony with God, themselves, others, the environment and the systems, and seek to develop cultural paradigms inclusive of the urban poor.
2. To form communities that have a shared vision, a sense of community, ownership to improve their own health and wellbeing and that of others, visionary and servant leadership to guide them, the necessary resources, skills and knowledge to further their goals, while engaging in ongoing reflection in order to learn to be more effective.
3. To create new institutions and restore existing systems and structures to a state where they enhance and celebrate life in all its forms, realizing that existing institutions and systems can only be effectively challenged by alternatives that are also institutionalized – either alternatives that are developed within existing institutions or alternatives that are altogether new.
4. To seek God in all that we are and do, so that God’s kingdom and glory – his character, justice, beauty, love and shalom – may become more present on earth as it is in heaven – in people, spatial aesthetics, ecological considerations, structures, and cultural beliefs.
But how do we measure this? We have developed 10 signs of a transforming community to help address this question. While change will look different around the world, we have identified these ten common elements of transformation.
• Sign 1: Jesus Communities – Increased Growth and Participation of Faith Communities in Holistic Change
• Sign 2: Mental Freedom – Increased Spiritual and Psychological Health and Freedom from Destructive Patterns
• Sign 3: Learning that Empowers – Improved Accessibility to Life-enhancing Education
• Sign 4: Healthy Habitat for All – Improved Environmental and Community Health
• Sign 5: Wealth Creation at the Bottom – Expanded Opportunities to Achieve Economic Sufficiency
• Sign 6: Whole Families – Increased Family Health and Well-Being
• Sign 7: Strong Civil Society – Increased Civic Participation for the Common Good
• Sign 8: Deepening Reconciliation – Improved Relationships and Collaboration between the Poor and Non-Poor
• Sign 9: Systems that Work – Presence of Political, Economic, and Legal Systems that Work for the Poor
• Sign 10: Healthy Reproduction – Presence of Change Processes that are Being Scaled and Reproduced
For a concise definition of “holistic transformational development” and summaries for each of these ten signs please download The Goal of Transformation