Asset-Based Community Development – As it works toward its goals, Shalom stresses asset-based community development. Historically, economic development has stimulated improvements throughout communities. However, when economic profits are invested far away from the workers who generate it (as happens when stockholders of corporate farms or main street franchises, for example, live in distant suburbs), its secondary benefits disappear. With asset-based community development, existing local resources are identified, nurtured, and mobilized to envision and build Shalom. The Shalom Community acquires new resources as well. The quality of the whole community’s life improves doubly, as new physical assets appear, and as individuals’ gifts and abilities are discovered and affirmed.
Collaboration – Shalom does not succeed when one congregation sets out independently. Rather, Shalom congregations work in collaboration with other families of faith, as well as with community residents, organizations, institutions and businesses. Shalom invites all community members to engage in service to one another; this collaboration yields multitudes of benefits, both within and outside of the Shalom Initiative.
Faith in Action – “What good it is, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat our fill,’ and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” James 2:14-17 (NRSV) Jesus’ ministry was a seamless integration. He met people where they were and brought them an awareness of Salvation not only through words, but through his healing power of love, forgiveness, grace, and mercy. Shalom practices faith in action: the acting out of our faith, and in so doing, reaching and drawing persons into God’s shalom.
Systemic Change – Over the course of several decades residents of many communities have become accustomed to service institutions taking care of their problems. At the same time, some policies an systems actually block people from creating right relationships and securing basic needs. By reorienting people to their scriptural roots and call to outreach ministry, the Shalom Initiative instills a new, active, responsible, hopeful mindset among its participants. It offers guidance in the practical matters of advocacy, as well as spiritual perspectives on issues of justice, freedom, and peace. As its Shalom Communities mature they may resist the temptation to institutionalize, join the social service “industry,” and surrender their call to generate systemic change. Over time, Shalom Communities can create the momentum and critical mass that challenge injustice in structures, policies, and systems.
Nurture Spiritual Growth – Shalom Communities seek to reveal the Spirit of God at work within individuals in congregations and communities. As its members become increasingly effective in linking faith with action, a Shalom site evolves into a strategic base for community ministry.
Promote Economic Development – Shalom Communities intentionally promote economic development. The local economies of many communities that seek Shalom are spiraling downward. Recognizing that collective economic stability forms a fundamental axis for community wholeness, Shalom Communities create homes, businesses, jobs and job training so that basic economic needs of more residents are met.
Strengthen Multi-Cultural Relationships – Shalom Communities create economically diverse, multi-cultural Shalom Teams, and build effective relationships within those teams. Its participants move through a process of examining the twin conditions of racial/ethnic discord and economic disadvantage, which contribute to poverty, sickness, and spiritual deprivation. Over time, it has become clear that deep and honest understandings of these conditions form the basis of sound, effective Shalom activity.
Empower Healing and Wholeness – Just as some people lose faith when they have no jobs or homes, others lose faith when they are sick or hurt and cannot get help. Shalom Communities improve community health care by creating clinics or by coordinating existing social services. Shalom Communities also help churches and individuals to understand the physical effects of broken spirits and the emotional, social and spiritual manifestations that so often result. Shalom Communities also work to heal the environment and bring ecological wholeness.