Fortress Press

Faith-Based Organizing: A Congregational Planning Resource for Addressing Poverty

Faith-Based Organizing

A Congregational Planning Resource for Addressing Poverty

Charles Fredrickson (Author), Violetta Lien (Author), Herb Palmer (Author), Mary Lou Walther (Author)


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Faith-Based Organizing: A Congregational Planning Resource for Addressing Poverty was prepared specifically for pastors and lay leaders who want to invite their whole congregations to engage in faith-based community organizing to address poverty and its root causes. This practical resource will help them grow in their understanding and motivate them into action. It will also be useful for denominational and judicatory leaders who feel called to lead the church in mission.

The authors share the fruits of what they discovered--through both their successes and errors--about community life inside and outside the church. They make a strong case that people of faith can address and overcome poverty, because they have what is needed to do so. They identify the available resources in the local church and offer tools for building relationships with leaders in a local community where there are people in poverty. They invite congregations to initiate local partnerships that include a congregation, people in poverty, and community leaders to advocate for change that can overcome poverty.

This book presents a faith-based effort seeking to identify what sustains poverty and to organize people to work together to overcome its root causes. The result is collaborative relationships that change systems contributing to poverty. Within this process, new leadership will emerge, relationships will be enriched, and congregations will experience renewed love for people by undergoing transformation.

Includes helpful information on racism and the culture of poverty, as well as numerous forms and activities that can be used by local congregations and planning teams.

  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781506470153
  • eBook ISBN 9781506472751
  • Dimensions 6 X 9
  • Pages 227
  • Publication Date May 4, 2021


"This book is a thorough and comprehensive description of a program in which I participated as a congregational pastor. Moving beyond pure theory, this book shows the experienced reality of faith-based organizing. The coronavirus pandemic, economic turmoil, and racial strife since this experiment only serve to show how much more necessary is the need to end poverty in America. Faith-Based Organizing shows interested congregations everything they need to know to start."

Paul R. Ziese, Lutheran Co-founder of Interfaith Community Action Network of San Antonio

"As churches reimagine what it means to be faithful amidst the challenges of a rapidly changing world, this is a timely book for congregations that want to be agents of the transforming power of the Spirit in their communities. It adapts and theologically grounds the arts and practices of community organizing for congregations who want to move from charity to addressing the root causes of poverty through relationship building and deep listening. This book provides a practical process and resources for congregations that can lead to social change and spiritual renewal."

Raymond Pickett, Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary

"This book is an excellent resource that applies theology to mobilize congregations beyond charity and liturgy towards community relevance and advocacy. The authors have provided a spiritual and practical playbook that will improve the quality of life for all residents by addressing systemic and institutional structures that perpetuate poverty. This is a very helpful "how to" resource for allied and/or privileged congregations that are well intended to do liberating work with poor people and people of color, but struggle with getting started and achieving results."

Mark Washington, city manager and African Methodist Episcopal Church minister

Table of Contents

Part I: Congregational Transformation
Chapter 1: The Mission of the Congregation
Chapter 2: Laying the Groundwork
Chapter 3: Relationships 
Chapter 4: The How to...
Adaptive and Technical Change
Overview of CICBA Training Sessions
Training Components of the CICBA Training Process
Part II: Supportive Resources
Chapter 5: An Open Letter to Pastoral Leaders
Chapter 6: Culture of Poverty
Chapter 7: Racism
Chapter 8: CICBA Final Evaluation Report
Chapter 9: Evaluation Report from Interviews with Pastors
Part III: Appendices 
Appendix A: Glossary  
Appendix B: One-to Ones 
Appendix C: Team Time Planning 
Appendix D: A Continuum of Public Church Responses
Appendix E: The Power Analysis 
Appendix F: Community Walk