January 2019 Resource

Having Nothing, Possessing Everything: Finding Abundant Communities in Unexpected Places
Having Nothing, Possessing Everything: Finding Abundant Communities in Unexpected Places
Michael Mather
Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids
Book Review By:
Melvin Amerson

Premise of the Book:
Congregations and nonprofit organizations can harness an abundance of resources from the people they serve, when these organizations intentionally engage in relationships and uncover the talents, gifts and skills they possess.

What the Book Does:
Having Nothing, Possessing Everything is an excellent resource written by a pastor who proposes a transformative paradigm shift in congregations and nonprofits serving impoverished, urban communities. Mather shares how and why his congregation changed its approached to ministry to inner city/urban communities. He offers stories on how lives are transformed when we intentionally build relationships with people we serve to help them uncover or share their talents for the good of themselves, their families, and their community, instead of simply providing handouts or overlooking the people we serve.


Preface: Finding Riches Where I Had Thought There Was Nothing
Chapter 1 Into the Inner City
Chapter 2 Hidden in Plain Sight
Chapter 3 Noticing People’s Gifts
Chapter 4 Getting Out of the Way
Chapter 5 Making Sense of Money
Chapter 6 Practicing Hospitality
Chapter 7 Taking Learning Journeys
Chapter 8 The Lights of Broadway
Epilogue: Two Things Became Visible

What are the Important Insights:

Throughout this book, you will find new insights into how to engage neighbors in your community with your congregation, while forging new and innovative ministry opportunities. Mather and the leaders of Broadway United Methodist Church are intentional in building relationships with their neighbors and helping them to discover and strengthen their community using those gifts and talents. He asks an empowering question to people he encounters in the community, “Would you be willing to teach a class on what you know or do well?” That question has the potential to create learning congregations/communities in any setting, which would lead to transformative ministry opportunities and community relationship building.

“We make progress when people—whether in an office, a classroom, on a street corner or around a dining room table—exchange ideas, challenge one another, share experience and wisdom, ask questions, riff off each other’s answers, and suggest solutions.”(p. 109)

Possibilities as a resource for churches:
This is an excellent resource for any church that wants to develop and strengthen relationships with its neighbors, whom it serves with outreach. Also, this book serves as a source of encouragement to churches and church members to share their talent as well as teach their talents, skills and knowledge to others.

Melvin Amerson Area Representative

Rev. Melvin Amerson is a member of the Texas Annual Conference and serves as a Resource Specialist/Area Representative at TMF. His experience and passion lie in encouraging and developing generous, faithful leaders and congregations.

Melvin is the author of Celebrating the Offering, Fruit for Celebrating the Offering and Stewardship in African American Churches: A New Paradigm, as well as several articles covering topics from generosity, leadership and visioning. Currently, he serves as a board member of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center and is a nationally-recognized generosity consultant known for his engaging presentations.

Melvin obtained a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi, a Master of Divinity degree concentrating in Christian education from Gammon Theological Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia, an Executive Leadership certificate from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York and a certificate in Professional Fundraising from Boston University.