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Since 2009 I have been working part-time as a donor relations person with World Renew.  I love what this organization does all over the world.  I love its approach to poverty reduction, an approach which seeks the input of the local community along with its resources, gifts, and talents. It avoids building an unhealthy dependence.

When I started there were definitely gaps in my knowledge of what World Renew does.  I knew about its disaster response and its community development in the majority of the world. What I did not know was that World Renew does not engage in community development in North America.  I am not totally sure why this is.

Recently I read When Helping Hurts by Corbett and Fikkert and Just Generosity by Ron Sider. Two statements one from each book caught my eye

       Corbett and Fikkert say "In summary, poor people in North America can benefit from all of the following: 1) the ability to work at jobs with living wages, 2) the capacity to manage their money, 3) the opportunity to accumulate wealth, and 4) a greater supply of education, housing, and health care at affordable rates." (p. 189-190)

       Ron Sider says "Widespread poverty in the richest nation on earth is unnecessary.  Tolerating this tragedy contradicts biblical teaching.The right mix of social policies could produce dramatic change." (p. 95)  

If these assessments are correct then it seems to me that the CRCNA through World Renew needs to become engaged in community development in North America. What do you think?


Hi Wendy,

Thanks for responding Wendy.  I know about communities first but I am unsure how far they enter into advocacy for US welfare issues, how they support local churches in its community development, how do they report to World Renew, and do they report to the Synod of CRCNA?


There is an  MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) between the organizations that spells out expectations and deliverables. As it is its own 501c3 organization, it does not report to the Synod of the CRCNA. A number of denominations are represented among its members. Its members are available to coach churches in community development. I believe in your area the coach would be Monika Grasley. 

In terms of advocacy for US welfare issues, most of the coaches have a very local focus, so advocacy is at the grassroots level.

Hope that helps clarify things a bit!

I have always wondered about this.  I would say "yes".  CFA may do great work (I am in Canada, so is there a Canadian equivalent to this?), but it feels like WR is sending us to someone else to learn and grow in this?  Just thinking out loud here, what if WR worked directly with diaconates somehow to engage congregations in  this work in local clusters of churches (not meaning Classis wide here) that are in the mix of the same local realities of need etc?  What if, along side doing ministry globally "on our behalf" as many say, WR worked right here, in my town or area, with my congregation and leadership, with me, to learn about issues and respond in healthy ways.  Churches are doing that work, but to my knowledge (limited as it is) I don't think WR is involved in those projects?  How would such an approach deepen the connection between WR and (especially) the younger sectors of the congregation who are right now connecting with all kinds of other organizations out there to do this work locally?  Just thinking out loud ... in my ignorance of what happens in churches other than the ones I have been a part of ;)

Thanks for the question!


Hi Colin,

You are very several important questions that are part of the whole discussion.  I have bee reminded that Communities First grew out of World Renew and they are by agreement the organization that carries out community development in North America.  I need to learn more about this organization and how local churches can involved with them in community development.


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