This is the fourth in a series of four posts entitled 2nd Mile 101. We hope these writings can help answer the questions of who 2nd Mile is and why we do what we do the way we do it.
2nd Mile is seeking a God-sized goal: wholistic transformation. In order to pursue this it is essential that we know who we are as 2nd Mile as well as who we are not. To do this we have a several core values that inform our actions, approach, and ministry.
First, 2nd Mile operates with a specific neighborhood focus. We seek to be for and present in the Brentwood neighborhood, which is defined by Main Street on the east, Interstate 95 on the west, 12th Street on the south, and Tallulah Avenue on the north. This is not to say, we will never minister or serve outside of our pre-determined boundaries, but it is to say that we know we cannot be everywhere at once and if our geography grows too large the deconcentration of our efforts lead to diluted and lessened impact.
Within the Brentwood neighborhood, our next key approach centers on always seeking a tangible presence. You cannot know or be known without being present. Because of this 2nd Mile requires all staff and encourages volunteers to make their home in the Brentwood community. A large part of the activity and ministry of 2nd Mile takes place not at youth programs on our turf, but happens as we know and seek out our neighbors, as we serve in local schools, play at the local park, and support local businesses. Doing so develops empathy, affection, and connection to the Brentwood community. Tangible presence means that 2nd Mile is joining together to make the victories and challenges faced by Brentwood our victories and challenges as well.
Building from this presence, 2nd Mile knows that comprehensive transformation is not possible by our efforts alone. So, where others already doing great work in their own areas of expertise we seek out collaborative partnerships. It is our desire to work together with others with whom we share common goals for the Brentwood neighborhood. This means partnerships with churches, schools, non-profits, city agencies, and businesses that encourage mutual flourishing for all parties, but most of all for Brentwood.
There are two divergent approaches to community development work. One is for outsiders to come into a neighborhood and say, “Here is what we have to bring to the table for you.” The other looks to a community and says, “What are the strengths and resources that already exist here that we can join alongside in?” 2nd Mile Ministries rejects the former and embraces that latter, which is called assets based community development (ABCD). Since there are so many great individuals, skills, and resources already available in Brentwood, we make it our goal to listen to and work with the community. ABCD is something I do with you, not that I do to you and 2nd Mile highly values this approach.
Finally, and tying all the elements together, 2nd Mile’s final core value is leadership development. Oftentimes, under-resourced communities are marked by two mindsets, one of fatalistic nihilism that fails to hope and sees the neighborhood as corrupt to the core, or one of escapism that villainizes the neighborhood and makes the goal to "get out and never look back". As a result of this dynamic, few people are equipped to be positive leaders and role models from and for the community, and the ones that may be best qualified often leave while vowing never to return. 2nd Mile seeks to offer a third way. A path that declares that our students were made for purpose and that unique purpose includes using and developing their gifts and abilities so that they can be the change agents who transform their own neighborhood. This means that all of 2nd Mile’s efforts set out to raise up and develop students into leaders and disciples who will lead Brentwood to flourishing.
By focusing on these five key values, 2nd Mile is able to make sure every activity pushes us towards our end goal, that we would see the Gospel renew lives and communities so they are transformed in every way.