Salt & Light:Project Overview Andy Rittenhouse First Baptist Concord Knoxville, TN
Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:18) What Is a Salt & Light Project? A Salt & Light project seeks to learn the truth about the city through research, in order to help move the church to faithful action. Salt & Light is both a process and a product designed to inform, inspire and connect Christians so they may better engage their city with God’s love.
Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. (Jeremiah 29:7) What Is a Salt & Light Project? A Salt & Light approach starts with the question, “What is God's great plan for our city … and how can we join in?” Salt & Light doesn’t just catalogue the needs; it reveals the resources, highlights the hope, and lifts up the heroes already laboring in the community. It serves as a catalyst for a collaborative, strategic response to urgent ministry opportunities. An honest look at what is, combined with a passionate vision for what can be, calls people to serve as the hands and feet of Jesus in their city.
The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. (Matthew 9:37-38) What Is a Salt & Light Project? The plan: Building on local networks, Salt & Light projects are customized to the city context, the sponsors, and the intended use. The process: A Salt & Light team builds ministry networks and learns about its city context for ministry through a process that is research-driven, relational and asset-based. The product: Information and inspiration are shared through a Guidebook and supporting website; momentum is sustained by follow-up training, action-learning groups and equipping initiatives. The purpose: Salt & Light serves as a catalyst to mobilize individuals and churches for informed, faithful, collaborative action, so that the body of Christ may glorify God by living as salt and light.
These pages invite you to pay closer attention to your surroundings and to those around you, and to respond with the heart of Jesus. (Introduction to the Salt & Light Guidebook) Salt & Light Product: Guidebook The Guidebook is a tool for informing, inspiring and connecting Christians as agents of God’s transforming love in the city. The Knoxville book has two main parts: The first half unpacks a range of specific issues, and lays out a vision and guidance for engaging the church in a practical response. The second half describes the city in general themes, offers suggestions for mobilizing churches for ministry, explores ways of collaborating for more significant impact, and develops a biblical framework for kingdom vision and ministry in the city. The Guidebook is designed by and for Christians, but can speak to all who care about the well-being of their city.
Section I. Serving Knoxville: Participating in the Transformation of Our City Salt & Light Product: Guidebook Each cluster of chapters examines specific topics in light of a broader vision: A Community Where Families Flourish Families, Children and Youth, Foster Care and Adoption A Community Where All Are Included and Valued Elderly, People with Disabilities, Former Offenders, People with HIV/AIDS A Community of Health and Well-Being Physical Health, Mental Health, Environmental Health, Financial Stewardship, Public Safety A Community Where People Experience Renewal and Restoration Pathways out of Poverty, Ending Homelessness, Confronting Domestic Violence, Overcoming Addiction, Stopping Prostitution A Community That Equips People to Live in Sufficiency Economy, Housing, Work, Child Care, Public Schools, Higher Education A Community Where None are Strangers Building Bridges with Latinos, Welcoming Refugees and Immigrants, Pursuing Racial Reconciliation with Justice, Embracing Low-Income Communities, Developing Great Neighborhoods
Section I. Serving Knoxville: Participating in the Transformation of Our City Salt & Light Product: Guidebook Each chapter includes four pieces, all with a local focus and flavor: A Glimpse in the Life puts readers in the shoes of an actual person in their own city who is grappling with an issue (such homelessness or living with a disability). The Focus Essay unpacks the issue in local context: summarizes the research (including "fast facts"), describes the challenges and resources, casts a biblical vision for change, and calls Christians to respond. The Story of Hope inspires readers with a case study of an effective nonprofit or dedicated volunteer, or a story of someone who has experienced transformation. Ways to Connect provides practical suggestions for individuals and churches seeking to make a difference—including prayer points, volunteer opportunities, and nonprofit contact information.
Section II. Understanding Knoxville: Learning to See Our City Salt & Light Product: Guidebook • History • Religion • Culture • Ethnicity • Business • Universities • Nonprofits • Civic life • Art • Struggling Knoxville In light of God’s mission, what do Christians need to know about their city? This section helps readers become students of their context for mission by providing ten brief "Windows" onto major sectors or themes of city life:
Section III. Loving Knoxville: Mobilizing to Make a Difference in Our City Salt & Light Product: Guidebook This section aims to help energize and equip the body of Christ. Content includes: Description of a variety of "onramps" that can lead churches to a deeper engagement with God's good intent for the city Suggestions for preparing a congregation for effective ministry Encouraging stories of churches and individuals who have stepped out in faith toward community ministry. Ideas for equipping volunteers, and for encouraging families to serve together. Introduction to an asset-based approach to ministry (in contrast to a need-based paradigm)—affirming strengths, developing empowering relationships, and connecting gifts in a community. This approach helps churches minister with rather than merely to people.
Section IV. Collaborating in Knoxville: Working Together for the Good of Our City Salt & Light Product: Guidebook This section explains why and how collaborative ministry is essential. Content includes: Introduction to the theological and practical reasons why Christians need to work together in unity with one another and in partnership with others who care about the city. Case studies of individuals, churches, nonprofits and other groups that have achieved more through collaboration. Key opportunities for local partnerships, based on the research. Practical guidelines for developing a shared vision and building effective kingdom collaborations. Special focus on developing healthy urban-suburban church partnerships.
Section V. Seeking Wholeness in Knoxville: Sharing God’s Good News for Our City Salt & Light Product: Guidebook This section lays a biblical foundation for city ministry. Content includes: A collection of short essays by local pastors on different facets of the church’s mission in the city, such as: What is God doing in the world, and in our particular city? What does the Good News of Christ mean for our context? How does our city’s story fit in the larger biblical story of redemption? How can Christians live out the gospel in word and deed in the city and the suburbs? The essays help readers develop a vision for the city that reflects God's heart. This section offers a theological perspective on both the good that Christians can celebrate about their city, and the areas of brokenness we are called to work to restore.
Section VI. Demographics: Tables and Maps to Help Us Get to Know Our City Salt & Light Product: Guidebook This section gives data on key characteristics and indicators of well-being. Content includes: Statistical information giving an overall demographic portrait of Knox County/Knoxville, with particular attention to vulnerable groups such as elderly, children, and single-parent families. Charts of census tract-level data for key quality-of-life indicators. A detailed table of data on poverty, family structure and other key characteristics relevant to the well-being of children, comparing different demographic layers: county, city, and high-poverty neighborhoods. Tables and maps showing educational indicators for children in public schools, especially those with high percentages of students in poverty. Tables and maps describing key characteristics of residents in public housing communities. The goal is for readers to ask, "What are the implications of this information, and how can we use it to guide our priorities and strategies for action?"
Salt & Light Product: Website The Salt & Light website serves as a companion to the Guidebook, and also as a catalyst for ongoing ministry learning and networking. Content on the website may include: Supplemental material for Guidebook readers, such as links to additional resources, references, articles, and training opportunities. Contact lists for nonprofits, churches, coalitions, ministry roundtables, etc. New research, updated statistics, and ministry opportunities that give the project ongoing relevance. Networking tools, enabling individuals and churches to join with others on a learning journey toward living as salt and light throughout the city. See the Compassion Coalition website (www.compassioncoalition.org) for an example in progress.