Today the chasm between rich and poor is constantly widening. While the wealthy seem to acquire more and more, the impoverished struggle to survive and thrive. This problem pervades not only the secular world but also modern Christianity. The Western church continues to spend more of its resources on its own needs than on those whom God calls us to see and to serve. Perhaps worse, the wealthiest church in history has often become complicit with systemic structures that perpetuate poverty in their own cities. Author and pastor Jimmy Dorrell explains that Scripture demands a drastically different attitude and approach from the wealthy regarding the poor.
In Commonwealth: Transformation through Christian Community Development, Dorrell not only explores the cultural entrapment of the modern church regarding wealth and relationships, but offers practical ways that Christians can serve and empower the poor and marginalized in their own communities. Drawing on experiences from twenty-eight years at Mission Waco | Mission World and Church Under the Bridge, and undergirded by a thorough and holistic engagement with Scripture, Christian history, and effective models, Dorrell’s team has restored one of the most underserved neighborhoods in his community with programs for the unemployed, the homeless, the sick, the addicted and struggling children and teens. They even created a non-profit grocery store in the food desert, transformed a pornographic theater, and built an economic center in a former liquor store.
Christian community development rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ is how we become neighbors in the biblical sense. Beyond handouts and increased donations, it is only when the poor and marginalized of our communities are empowered that the whole city truly prospers. There is a commonwealth of resources and gifts in all classes, and, if we choose to work together, we can change unjust structures of privilege and favoritism. Dorrell challenges us to see that it is only when we understand how financial prosperity often deepens hardheartedness toward Christ and our neighbors that the Christian church can make the good news of Jesus Christ tangible in our communities and world.
1 Salvation Has Come to This House
2 Compassion and the Journey into Pain
3 Relationships Change Everything
4 Jubilee Breaks Out
5 The Bible Is Not a Children’s Book
6 The Bible and History
7 Who Then Can Be Saved?
8 The Church Is Being Coopted
9 Poverty of Spirit Is the Beginning
Jimmy Dorrell is a prophet in both word and deed. Commonwealth challenges our very notions of a successful life. Jimmy points us to Jesus’ teaching about living a full life, to give oneself over to caring for the impoverished, the common good, rather than simply acquiring more wealth and possessions for our own consumption. If we heed the wisdom of Commonwealth, born out of more than four decades of living and working in impoverished communities, our world would experience the promise of the true transformation of the kingdom of God.~Jeremy K. Everett, Executive Director, Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty
In Commonwealth: Transformation through Christian Community Development, Jimmy Dorrell does an excellent job of weaving the principles of Christian community development, biblical directives and his personal story of ministry and development. These all are extremely helpful for us in the church today. This excellent book is enormously important to be read by the church in these difficult days. For some reason the church has never been able to truly understand the poor and be committed to the biblical mandate of caring for them. Riches have often become the priority of too many Christians, and Jimmy goes a long way in guiding us and motivating us to be biblical in our lifestyles. I highly recommend Jimmy Dorrell’s Commonwealth.~Wayne "Coach" Gordon, PhD, Pastor, Lawndale Christian Community Church and Professor of Urban Ministry, Northern Seminary
How many of us can honestly say we’ve taken Jesus at his Beatitudinal word? Not just with our sermons and associations, but with our daily lives? Jimmy Dorrell is one of the rare ones who might be able to look God freely in the face—one whose testimony here convicts, clarifies, inspires, and confronts. For all those who sense there is more to Christ’s Gospel than individual salvation and defending one's turf, here is a Jesus Way inviting your feet.~Anne Snyder, Editor-in-Chief, Comment
Commonwealth provides readers with an opportunity to recalibrate our moral compass, for without a plumb line, we know not from which we deviate, and all will deviate. Because we have a gracious and loving God, we are allowed a pathway back into relationship with him. I am grateful that with these words, Dorrell continues to challenge us to be honest about who we are in relationship to others, for that is what defines our authentic relationship with God.~Elizabeth Darling, former CEO and President, OneStar Foundation
This is an inspiring, challenging, and hopeful story of God-led efforts from Dorrell’s front yard to Church Under the Bridge to homeless housing and even a grocery store. Combine that with a deep dive into wealth, poverty, and tools for community action and you will find that this is a handbook for practitioners and armchair supporters alike.~Mary Nelson, Interim President & CEO, Christian Community Development Association
Jimmy Dorrell has taken non-applied texts in his Bible Belt area and combined them with a vision for 'Church Under the Bridge' and partnered with underserved neighborhoods to transform Waco’s ‘Tale of Two Cities’ into a ‘Commonwealth.’ Told with typical Jimmy Dorrell gusto and deference, he has made the story of poverty alleviation into an ongoing art form.~Ray Bakke, Professor of Global Urban Ministries, Regent College
In our nation and across the globe we are buckling under the weight of inequality. We see the eruptions in our cities and the devastation across our land. What to do? In Commonwealth we find the answer. Showing us the Christian principles and practices of community development that weave us all into the solution, Jimmy Dorrell outlines the clear path, both from experience and from careful biblical and social analysis. This powerful book is desperately needed. May we heed its wisdom.~Michael O. Emerson, Professor and Department Head of Sociology, University of Illinois at Chicago