Community. It has become the cliché word implanted in many a conversation in an effort to portray some vague idea of a group of people acting all happy and vulnerable and dependable. I may be alone in this, but it is rare that this is my experience in large groups of people, communities, if you will. I tend to migrate more towards words such as hectic, intimidating, overwhelming, and draining. Now keep in mind that my soul is introverted in the truest sense of the word. I love people, working with them, serving with them, but whenever the word community gets tosses around, cynicism and sleepiness tend to be my response, with the smallest dash of jealousy. Why is it this idea is so prevalent in out world, and yet we all seem to think we are lacking the genuine form of it?
Engagement. A word with several meanings, some conjuring up images of diamond rings and in-laws, others of giant parties or an event you will be attending. All great definitions, but the one I want to focus on is the concept of interacting with someone or something; two sides connecting with the common expectation that change will occur. Plugging a lamp into an outlet, plunging fistfuls of seeds into the dirt, raising your hand in class, having a conversation with someone over coffee, playing football with a friend, slamming your body against oncoming waves.
Action words tend to result in engagement.
So what happens when you stick them together? Community Engagement. Well in addition to stating the name of the lectures I’ve been in for the last three days, you will discover a concept revealing that healthy community is possible through the engagement of those involved in it.
Let me tell you, this idea is rocking my world.
Any semblance of a worldview I had has been completely altered in the last three days. No longer will I ever view things such as, service, missions, poverty, and empowerment, the same.
Let me tell you, I cannot remember ever being this excited about education.
I decided post my Syllabus, if you have a free moment you should read through it, its fascinating stuff.
The Community Engagement Course
Students gain an understanding of their personal and professional responsibilities in the global context, and are prepared to function as knowledgeable, contributing, Christ-centered, community builders in a world of diverse cultures.
- Introduce the students to methods of community engagement that result in empowerment of people.
Critical analysis and personal experiences – Students will critically analyze:
- Three major trends in community development and use the principles derived from the trends.
- Their own personal and team reflections to understand their strengths and weaknesses, and how to improve on the weaknesses.
- Jesus Model – learn from observing how Jesus worked with people to produce empowerment; apply the models each day as students work in the fired; reflect on each of the models to assess change.
Expected Outcomes – Students will:
- Learn from the communities/sites they are serving – the culture, survival mechanisms, strengths, struggles, etc, and thus understand the world better.
- Understand themselves as individuals better – their strengths, areas of growth, etc, and what they need to do to become better prepared to serve globally.
Understand their spiritual journey better as they practice principles that portray how Jesus our Model facilitator operated.