Three R’s of Development
This is a Christianity Today Article on the Ministry and Life of John Perkins

The philosophy of the “Three R’s”—reconciliation, relocation, and redistribution—is CCDA’s backbone. Reconciliation shows itself as multiracial ministry. Perkins has never flirted with black power rhetoric or Afrocentric philosophies. He firmly believes that the kingdom of God is seen when all ethnicities work and worship together. “I want to preach a gospel that is stronger than my race and stronger than my economic interest,” he says. At the CCDA conference, his close friendship with Wayne Gordon, a white inner-city pastor from Chicago’s tough Lawndale neighborhood, sets the example.

The second R, relocation, emphasizes that to work with the poor you have to live with them. “I believe that the people with the problems can solve their own problems,” Perkins says. Only those who share daily life in the ghetto can move past charity to genuine community development.

This challenges up-and-out inner-city residents just as much as suburbanites. CCDA members don’t consider it a success when local young people go off to college and graduate to suburban life. “What they have got is a better education in consumption,” Perkins says. CCDA champions educated young people who come back to serve in their communities.

Living in the community, Wayne Gordon stresses, is the only cure for the prejudice that middle-class whites typically bring to their relations with the poor. He tells of moving into the high-crime area of Lawndale as a young teacher and coming home to find his van broken into. Residents of his building saw the theft and organized an around-the-clock vigil to make sure no one looted the van further. They took care of him even though he was the only white man in the neighborhood. “I found that, unexpectedly, I was living out the words of Martin Luther King Jr., being judged not by the color of my skin but by my character,” Gordon says.

The third R, redistribution, sounds like socialism, but what Perkins describes is far closer to capitalism. He seeks economic vitality, not handouts. He recognizes that external forces—unjust laws, lack of access to bank loans, poor schools—often prevent economic progress among poor people. But so does a lack of self-confidence and initiative. He wants poor African Americans to learn from immigrants who look at their blighted communities and see business opportunities. One way or another, economic resources must change hands so that the poor can gain economic power and dignity.


I liked the entire article.  John Perkins has an amazing tesitmony about his ministry journey.  The Three R’s seem embrace the vision that I have for ministry.  Can we apply the Three R’s to a church with a mission of making disciples? Are suburban churches and pastor’s able to embrace and support urban ministry and have integrity in their ministries?  Can the three R’s be applied to a congregation that is revitalizing?

If I were to use the three R’s I would the fourth R.  Reproduce.  Multiplication is at the foundation of every disciple making ministry.  I encourage you to read the entire article so that you can see how John Perkins approaches the three R’s in context.