7.4

Billion people on Earth

600

Daily points of human contact

24

hours in a day


Infinite opportunities to make a difference

Book Features

What does Smart Compassion have to offer?


Definition of smart compassion and helpful tips for individuals and congregations to live it out


Strengths-based approach to getting to know your community’s challenges and assets


Stories of churches learning effective ministry in their contexts


Introduction to research-driven strategies such as community mapping and assessment tools


Biblical rationale and practical steps for helping your community flourish


Are we spending ourselves well?

Smart Compassion Sample

Enjoy a snippet from Smart Compassion below.


Smart Compassion Snippet

Chapter 11

Draw the Circle

“Our historic aim will be for ours to be the first generation to end child poverty.” In March 1999, Tony Blair, then prime minister of the United Kingdom, made this pledge. The country’s child poverty rate had been rising and was nearly 20 percent at the time of the announcement. Although Blair had no clear plan at the beginning, in eight years, Britain managed to cut the child poverty rate in half! During this time (1999–2007), the child poverty rate in the United States continued to climb. Jane Waldfogel, in her book Britain’s War on Poverty and in other writings and lectures, evaluates the British strategy and expounds on the lessons others can learn from it.1 Regardless of the specific steps, however, one thing is clear: there’s a power in drawing a circle and proclaiming, “It’s going to be different in here!”

Part of that power is simply acknowledging the environmental factors for health and disease. Like with a patient with a contagious disease in a contaminated hospital who’s eating food that exacerbates his illness, addressing any one of the issues to the exclusion of the others is better than nothing, but it’s unlikely to heal the patient. Disjointed or half-measured approaches may show signs of success, but they won’t yield real change in the long term. Healing, in this case, requires looking both at the hospital and inside the cells.

Our social context exerts so many intangible and imperceptible in uences on our lives that intentionality alone is unable to fully counteract them. Like real estate, health has a whole lot to do with location. When we realize how much context affects individuals, we take the first step toward collective empowerment.

Define a geography and know it
Real change in our communities requires that we de ne a geography and know it well. Real change and movement toward collective empowerment requires what is called a “systems perspective,” which can be illuminated through community mapping. Let’s look at these two concepts in more detail.

Adopt a systems perspective
Tobler’s first law of geography states, “Everything is related to everything else, but near things are more related than distant things.” Family systems yield greater influence than neighborhood characteristics. And neighborhood characteristics yield greater influence than the group meeting across town that happens once a week. Because of the porous nature of our lives, a geographic circle is preferable to an isolated project that lacks a view of the environmental factors affecting the work.
Learning to view the world from a systems perspective means paying attention to the ways that individual behaviors and realities are connected to larger systems and networks. Becoming a good student of a community’s risk and protective factors is a bit like basic detective work. We can gather all kinds of data on our com- munity, but how do we best make sense of it? The dots need to connect into a coherent story. How does the data square with the stories people are telling about their primary challenges and oppor- tunities? What is the relationship between household dynamics and economic factors? A systems approach within a clearly de ned geography allows you to work simultaneously on macro, mezzo, and micro levels.
The work of community ourishing is in nitely more complex than drawing sustainable and fresh water out of a desert. But our takeaway from that example could be that we have to work all that much harder to learn and adapt rather than settle for an indiscriminate allocation of resources and anecdotal measurements.
The needs and opportunities in our communities are simply too great to settle for the equivalent of flood irrigation techniques. A “more is better” approach to our community’s flourishing—that is, an indiscriminate allocation of resources and anecdotal measurements—needs to be permanently set aside. “More is better” is not smart compassion. We need a more careful and deliberate pursuit of real change. We need imagination to see a different and better vision, the verve to draw the circle and name it, and the rigor to pursue it. We need steely resolve, collaboration, patience, a long- term view, courage, and the sheer confidence that our community can and will flourish.

Map your community
Here’s a short quiz. How well do you know the census tract where you live?
1. How many households live below the poverty line?
2. How many households are led by single parents?
3. Do college graduates outnumber the individuals who
obtained less than a twelfth-grade education?
4. How many children live in homes without a biologi-
cal parent?
5. How many children in foster care are available for adoption?

If you’re like many people, you have a rough idea of the answers for your immediate neighborhood but you’re unsure of the boundary lines for your census tract. The good news is that you can know the answers to these questions with a quick search of federal and community development websites. A quick search of online databases can reveal the number of reports of human trafficking in your area, as well as how your area compares to state and national averages on issues such as teen births, sexually transmitted diseases, overdose deaths, access to primary and mental healthcare, graduation rates, children in poverty, single parents, crime indexes, housing problems, and much more.

Chapter 11

Draw the Circle

“Our historic aim will be for ours to be the first generation to end child poverty.” In March 1999, Tony Blair, then prime minister of the United Kingdom, made this pledge. The country’s child poverty rate had been rising and was nearly 20 percent at the time of the announcement. Although Blair had no clear plan at the beginning, in eight years, Britain managed to cut the child poverty rate in half! During this time (1999–2007), the child poverty rate in the United States continued to climb. Jane Waldfogel, in her book Britain’s War on Poverty and in other writings and lectures, evaluates the British strategy and expounds on the lessons others can learn from it.1 Regardless of the specific steps, however, one thing is clear: there’s a power in drawing a circle and proclaiming, “It’s going to be different in here!”

Part of that power is simply acknowledging the environmental factors for health and disease. Like with a patient with a contagious disease in a contaminated hospital who’s eating food that exacerbates his illness, addressing any one of the issues to the exclusion of the others is better than nothing, but it’s unlikely to heal the patient. Disjointed or half-measured approaches may show signs of success, but they won’t yield real change in the long term. Healing, in this case, requires looking both at the hospital and inside the cells.

Our social context exerts so many intangible and imperceptible in uences on our lives that intentionality alone is unable to fully counteract them. Like real estate, health has a whole lot to do with location. When we realize how much context affects individuals, we take the first step toward collective empowerment.

Define a geography and know it
Real change in our communities requires that we de ne a geography and know it well. Real change and movement toward collective empowerment requires what is called a “systems perspective,” which can be illuminated through community mapping. Let’s look at these two concepts in more detail.

Adopt a systems perspective
Tobler’s first law of geography states, “Everything is related to everything else, but near things are more related than distant things.” Family systems yield greater influence than neighborhood characteristics. And neighborhood characteristics yield greater influence than the group meeting across town that happens once a week. Because of the porous nature of our lives, a geographic circle is preferable to an isolated project that lacks a view of the environmental factors affecting the work.
Learning to view the world from a systems perspective means paying attention to the ways that individual behaviors and realities are connected to larger systems and networks. Becoming a good student of a community’s risk and protective factors is a bit like basic detective work. We can gather all kinds of data on our com- munity, but how do we best make sense of it? The dots need to connect into a coherent story. How does the data square with the stories people are telling about their primary challenges and oppor- tunities? What is the relationship between household dynamics and economic factors? A systems approach within a clearly de ned geography allows you to work simultaneously on macro, mezzo, and micro levels.
The work of community ourishing is in nitely more complex than drawing sustainable and fresh water out of a desert. But our takeaway from that example could be that we have to work all that much harder to learn and adapt rather than settle for an indiscriminate allocation of resources and anecdotal measurements.
The needs and opportunities in our communities are simply too great to settle for the equivalent of flood irrigation techniques. A “more is better” approach to our community’s flourishing—that is, an indiscriminate allocation of resources and anecdotal measurements—needs to be permanently set aside. “More is better” is not smart compassion. We need a more careful and deliberate pursuit of real change. We need imagination to see a different and better vision, the verve to draw the circle and name it, and the rigor to pursue it. We need steely resolve, collaboration, patience, a long- term view, courage, and the sheer confidence that our community can and will flourish.

Map your community
Here’s a short quiz. How well do you know the census tract where you live?
1. How many households live below the poverty line?
2. How many households are led by single parents?
3. Do college graduates outnumber the individuals who
obtained less than a twelfth-grade education?
4. How many children live in homes without a biologi-
cal parent?
5. How many children in foster care are available for adoption?

If you’re like many people, you have a rough idea of the answers for your immediate neighborhood but you’re unsure of the boundary lines for your census tract. The good news is that you can know the answers to these questions with a quick search of federal and community development websites. A quick search of online databases can reveal the number of reports of human trafficking in your area, as well as how your area compares to state and national averages on issues such as teen births, sexually transmitted diseases, overdose deaths, access to primary and mental healthcare, graduation rates, children in poverty, single parents, crime indexes, housing problems, and much more.

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The Overview

Wesley Furlong's book is broken down into three parts, each confronting it's own area of "smart compassion."

Part I:

Part I:

Healing Presence: Become a Conduit of God’s Love
3. The Background Moves to the Foreground
4. A Love Differentiated
5. The Doorway to Healing
6. Three Ways to Usher in New Life

Part II:

Part II:

Radical Hospitality: Extend Your Family
7. Babbitt’s Table
8. Boundaries and Your Capacity for Chaos
9. Hospitality from an Eternal Perspective

Part III:

Part III:

Collective Empowerment: Open the Right Doors
10. A City of Refuge
11. Draw the Circle
12. To What End?

Reviews

inspiring testimonials from our readers

-John M. Perkins, minister and bestselling author

“Don’t read Smart Compassion if you want your church to remain safe and comfortable. Read it if you want to fully immerse yourself in God’s plan for mercy, justice, and healing in your neighborhood.”

-Richard Sterns, president of World Vision U.S. and author of The Hole in Our Gospel

“Love your neighbor: Jesus’ simple command can take a lifetime to master. While there is no shortage of resources for Christians and churches about living out this command, I’m grateful for guidance that emphasizes relationships and incarnational ministry. That’s what you get with Wesley Furlong’s book: a smart approach to compassion that comes with a lot of heart.”

-Steve Corbett, coauthor of When Helping Hurts

“Built on important and well-recognized principles and full of helpful examples, Smart Compassion provides pathways and inspirations to move us to be with and walk with people. The reader will appreciate being moved beyond doing acts of charity to actions that draw us into entering into the lives of others in tangible ways. Read Smart Compassion and you will be ready to answer its call to start waging shalom.”

-Dave Runyon, coauthor of The Art of Neighboring

“If you want to make a difference in your community, you need to read this book. Wesley Furlong is unique in that he is both a thought leader and a practitioner. Smart Compassion is full of tools that will help you make a lasting impact.”

-Reggie McNeal, author of Missional Renaissance and Kingdom Come

“One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to engaging needs of the people around us. Wesley Furlong’s work gives practical advice on how to customize your response appropriately so that people are genuinely helped. This insight will both free and fire you up! Your community will be glad you read this book!”

-Peter Greer, president and CEO of HOPE International and coauthor of Mission Drift

“We are called to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength-but too often, we forget to engage our minds. Wesley Furlong’s new book is sobering and enlightening, a call to cultivate love and justice as we actively love our neighbors. Ultimately, Smart Compassion teaches us to love as Christ has loved us, bringing holistic transformation to our hearts and our minds.”

Smart Compassion is available in three formats plus bundle options for groups

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About the Author

Smart Compassion was written by Wesley Furlong

Wesley Furlong is the founder and director of City of Refuge (refuge.life),
a network for community transformation, and the director of church development
for EVANA, an evangelical Anabaptist network of churches across North America.
Furlong holds a master’s degree in theology from Emory University and is working
toward a doctorate in social work. He and his wife, Bonnie, have three kids and an
ever-changing number of foster children. Connect with him at WesleyFurlong.com.