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Transforming Urban Neighbourhoods

This unit aims to equip participants with practical insights, frameworks, tools and strategies to effect transformation in local neighbourhoods facing urban poverty. This includes a theological and pastoral critique of the contribution of Christian faith; an exploration of the ways that Christians can relate to, and come alongside, marginalised people thus bringing residents together to solve their own problems; a critical evaluation of the roles local churches can play in neighbourhood-based responses.

Personal worker issues that can undermine transformations such as boundaries, self-care, dependencies and projections are considered. Christian approaches to urban community development; empowerment and relief will be identified and explored.

Lecturer: Refer to Timetable
Offered: Refer to Timetable

Undergraduate: Level 1 & 2
Postgraduate: Level 8

Discipline: DM Missiology 

Level 1: N/A
Level 2: 1 x Level 1 unit Field D
Level 3: N/A

Learning Outcomes: 

Upon successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. Identify a number of contemporary approaches to understanding and defining the nature of poverty.
  2. Describe a variety of models, frameworks and concepts that can inform and inspire a community transformation process in an urban neighbourhood.
  3. Develop a theological rationale for the ways Christians live in and engage with neighbourhoods.
  4. Communicate theological concepts in a clear and articulate form, accessible to people living in poverty.
  5. (Level 2) Demonstrate distinct ways Christians can engage with urban neighbourhoods.
  6. (Level 8) Critique and theologically evaluate Christian professional practice in a community-based mission.


Undergraduate: Level 1
1 x 500 word oral tutorial presentation 20%
1 x 1,000 word topical paper 30%
1 x 2,000 word Thematic Essay 50%

Undergraduate: Level 2
1 x 500 word oral tutorial presentation 10%
1 x 2,000 word topical paper 40%
1 x 2,000 word thematic essay 50%

Postgraduate: Level 8
One 500 word oral tutorial presentation 10%
One 2,500 word Tutorial Paper  40%
One 3,000 word Thematic Essay 50%

Select Bibliography:

Pre-Unit Reading:

Barker, Ash. Surrender All: A Call to Sub-Merge with Christ. Melbourne: UNOH, 2005.

Duncan, Michael. Costly Mission: Following Jesus into Neighbourhoods Facing Poverty. Melbourne: UNOH, 2007.


Bosch, David. Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission. Maryknoll: Orbis, 2011.

Bradshaw, Bruce. Change across Cultures: A Narrative Approach to Social Transformation. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002.

Castellanos, Noel. Where the Cross Meets the Street: What Happens to the neighbourhood when God is at the center. Downers Grove: IVP, 2015.

Christian, Jayakumar. God of the Empty-Handed: Poverty, Power and the Kingdom of God. Monrovia: MARC, 1999.

Collier, Paul. The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are failing and What Can Be Done About It. Oxford: University Press, 2007.

Corbett, Steve, and Brian Fikkert. When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor and Yourself. Chicago: Moody, 2009.

Guder, Darrell. Be My Witnesses. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985.

Hunter, George, III. To Spread the Power: Church Growth in the Wesleyan Spirit. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1987.

Linthicum, Robert. Building a People of Power: Equipping Churches to Transform Their Communities. Waynesboro: Authentic, 2005.

McKnight, John, and Peter Brock. The Abundant Community: Awakening the Power of Families and Neighbourhoods. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 2010.

Myers, Bryant. Walking with the Poor: Principles and Practices of Transformational Development. Maryknoll: Orbis, 1999.

Newbigin, Lesslie. Proper Confidence: Faith, Doubt and Certainty in Christian Discipleship. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995.

Perkins, John. Restoring At-Risk Communities: Doing It Together & Doing It Right. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1995.

_______With Justice for All: A Strategy for Community Development. Ventura: Regal Books, 2007.

Pohl, Christine. Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999.

Sachs, Jeffrey D. The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time. New York: Penguin Press, 2005.

Samson, Will & Lisa Samson. Justice in the Burbs: Being the Hands of Jesus Wherever We Live. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2007.

Samuel, Vinay, and Chris Sugden, eds. The Church in Response to Human Need. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987.

_______Mission as Transformation: A Theology of the Whole Gospel. Oxford: Regnum, 1999.

Schaller, Lyle E. The Change Agent. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1972.

Sider, Ronald J. Evangelism & Social Action: In a Lost & Broken World. Sydney: Hodder & Stoughton, 1993.

_______. Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger. Sydney: Hodder & Stoughton, 1997.