Mini-me:  DaveDSC04373 wants to see Jesus followers leading the way in addressing poverty, inequality, and other social injustices. He is pursuing a PhD in Urban Studies from Portland State University with his doctoral research focusing on the role of the church in neighborhood gentrification, upgrading, and decline.

Me: Dave is passionate about improving how local churches and faith-based non-profits address poverty, inequality, and other social injustices.  He pursuing a PhD in Urban Studies from Portland State University. His research will explore the role of churches in neighborhood change such as decline and gentrification. The research, and Dave’s work post-doctorate, will challenge church planting and growth strategies, identify gaps that can be uniquely filled by the faith-community, and develop a vision for ongoing research and action.

Bigger Me:  I’ve been a Jesus follower for all my adult life, but I confess that in many ways it has been more about me and the Christian-version of the American Dream than about me and Jesus. God has worked on my heart through a long process of spiritual formation and miraculously shifted my priorities as promotions, raises, financial security, and the size of my house have faded in importance. At the same time, I’ve been captured by the way of Jesus that attracted the marginalized and oppressed, while repelling the established and the mighty. I believe that the good news (the “gospel”) is holistic, touching every aspect of a person’s life, including the communities and institutions around them. Jesus followers in North American cities and suburbs are experiencing a reawakening to our holistic mission. In various leadership positions in churches and non-profits, I’ve seen the tremendous energy and potential of the faith community, but I’ve also seen much of this energy squandered “playing church”, leaving the work of restoration and healing to others.

As I grappled with God for discernment on next steps, I knew that maintaining the status quo in my life was not an option. I pursued a seminary degree but came to realize that my real passion is igniting faith communities through deep study of the complex systems that are creating and sustaining the social injustices of our day.  My hope is that I will be able to walk alongside the many wonderful leaders of churches and faith-based non-profits, that the name of Jesus will be honored, and that the way of Jesus will again be seen as good news for the poor and broken.