Faith communities transform their communities
Author: Alan McWilliam
Faith communities transform their communities
Author: Alan McWilliam
Home 9 Blog 9 Faith communities transform their communities

Jesus came to change the world. One soul at a time.

There is no doubt that the message that he carried was one about the personal transformation that comes when we find reconciliation with God through his redeeming work on the cross.

But here is the amazing truth – when that individual transformation happens it is also meant to lead to the transformation of that person’s family, community and nation. Salvation is meant to have a transformative effect that spreads out from the individual, like the ripples on a pond.

The redemptive lift that comes for people who are saved is a phenomenon that can be seen everywhere the gospel spreads. We see this in the history of Christianity as it first swept across Ireland and Scotland through the Celtic monks. As Columba established his first monastery on Iona, his focus was on first establishing a centre for worship and prayer, but very quickly this was surrounded by a school, a hospital and centre of business and arts.

Iona became a Village of God – a place where personal faith – worship and prayer – was at the centre. But quickly, as people asked the question, “what does it look like to love my neighbour?”, these faith centres became the driving force for social transformation.

It is this pattern that I believe we need to rediscover as we seek to find a way forward in our world. A pattern where church is clearly a dynamic place to worship and encounter Jesus, but that then leads to our faith communities being the centres for redemption and transformation for the communities in which they live and serve.

This has been the tradition of the church in more recent times too. In the Victorian era it was the church that drove forward the improvements in health, education and housing. Many of our older schools still have the marks of the “parish” that provided their buildings and first teachers.

Even today it is the churches that are increasingly seen as the most reliable anchor community organisations. We saw that during the worst times in the Covid Pandemic, when it was the church that mobilised to make sure that the hungry were fed, the lonely cared for and the least and last were not forgotten.

The church is seeking once again for clear identity and vision. I believe that it is the local churches that have a vision for the transformation of their community that have found a key to God’s mission. These churches need to be on fire with worship and prayer at the centre, but flowing from that is the question, “what does it mean to love my neighbour?”. Churches that address this will lead the way.

Infograph depicting Jesus and Social transformation
People celebrating