Thursday, October 29, 2009
For a social sector organization, however, performance must be assessed relative to mission, not financial returns. In the social sectors, the critical question is not 'How much money do we make per dollar of invested capital?' but 'How effectively do we deliver on our mission and make a distinctive impact, relative to our resources?'
From page 5 of Good to Great and the Social Sectors: a monograph to accompany Good to Great, by Jim Collins.
I came across this wonderful paragraph in an article on something else altogether yesterday.
Idleness is not just a psychological necessity, requisite to the construction of a complete human being; it constitutes as well a kind of political space, a space as necessary to the workings of an actual democracy as, say, a free press. How does it do this? By allowing us time to figure out who we are, and what we believe; by allowing us time to consider what is unjust, and what we might do about it. By giving the inner life (in whose precincts we are most ourselves) its due. Which is precisely what makes idle¬ness dangerous. All manner of things can grow out of that fallow soil. Not for nothing did our mothers grow suspicious when we had "too much time on our hands." They knew we might be up to something. And not for nothing did we whisper to each other, when we were up to something, "Quick, look busy."
It comes from an essay by Mark Slouka entitled Quitting the Paint Factory. The reason for the title only becomes clear if you read right towards the end of the piece.
It's quite long - prints out at ten pages in Times New Roman - and his point is clear enough from early in the piece, but he hammers it home with example after example, and the whole thing is worth reading; it's worth sitting back, putting your feet up on your cluttered desk (push some of those piles of paper onto the floor, even into file 13) and chewing over what he has to say. Because it isn't just relevant to the world of work, it's relevant to the Church as a whole. The Church has taken up busy-ness as a virtue, and it just ain't.
So what, you say? Well, the difference with this health centre is that services will be free to any and all patients. John is concerned that there are a lot of people slipping under the radar in terms of health care, and he's hoping that by providing free care, more people will be able to have access to health advice and services.
And why am I particularly interested? Well, John and I have been getting together nearly every week for several years, since I first met him and took him through a discipleship course after he became a Christian. When the course was complete we decided that it would be good to keep getting together, and so we have.
The result is that I've been witness to John's long journey to get this free health clinic idea off the ground. And it's been quite some journey, particularly this year when John took a deep breath, began to work only part time at his usual practice, and spent many hours a week looking for premises and getting people involved and finding additional funding and everything else that was needed. The premises have been in hand for a couple of months, but of course there have been the usual delays from those in the world of bureaucracy.
We often hear of people going to third world countries to do medical mission. Here with the Servants Health Centre is an example of how you can do it in your own country.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
The prayer begins:
Most gracious God, creator of all good things, we thank you for planet Earth and all creatures that share it.
Have mercy on us, Lord. Through ignorance and carelessness we have poisoned clean air and pure water. For monetary gain we have reduced verdant forests to barren wastes. In our craving for more we have plundered your beloved creation and driven many of our fellow creatures to extinction. Only recently have we begun to realize the dangerous future into which our current patterns of consumption and waste are driving us, especially in relation to Earth’s climate. Only recently have we begun to see our need to find a wiser and better way of life in the future, before it is too late and our choices are limited by the consequences of inaction.
There are also alternate versions of the prayer for different occasions.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
However, slowly but surely, Christians are discovering that the YMCAs scattered around the globe can be mission fields in their own particular way. It may not be so easy in the YMCA system in New Zealand, where things seem somewhat different to the set-up in the States, but an article in the latest Leadership Journal online discusses how a vision to bring church to a particular Y has begun to grow into a vision to bring church to all 14,000 of them around the world.
What started as a temporary solution for a church that was without a home has turned into something altogether different. Again, the principle of going out where the people are instead of expecting them to come to you has born fruit.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Thus, heading from an entry by Bruce Hamill on Facebook, I find myself on Bruce's blog, which I don't remember coming across before. (It's called 'boo to a goose' in the best obscurely theological tradition.)
From there, an entry on his blog led me to Michael someone-or-other's blog, Beyond the Secular Canopy, where he had posted a new version of the Serenity Prayer:
Triune God of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, grant me:Another skip and a hop and we find ourselves at Inhabitatio Dei (these blog names - crikey!) where the prayer was re-posted, along with a further parody by Kim Fabricius, who wrote:
the serenity to know that all will be reconciled in Jesus Christ,
the courage to participate in the change you are bringing,
and the wisdom to remember that ‘be realistic’ is not one of your commandments.
Kim, of course, and to complete the circle, had turned up in a post on this blog just at the end of September.
To lower the tone, do you know “The Senility Prayer”?
Ancient of Days,
grant me the senility to forget the people I’ve never liked,
the serendipity to run into the people I do,
and the eyesight to tell the difference.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
In a recent post, Seth Godin lists twelve things that are typical of almost all news programmes on television - and aren't they familiar. (Which is why I don't watch much television news.)
Regrettably, almost all of the same twelve points can be typical of any group that's stuck in a certain mindset....some church organisations, for example, where emotional reaction is more important than careful thought.
- Focus on the urgent instead of the important.
- Vivid emotions and the visuals that go with them as a selector for what's important.
- Emphasis on noise over thoughtful analysis.
- Unwillingness to reverse course and change one's mind.
- Xenophobic and jingoistic reactions (fear of outsiders).
- Defense of the status quo encouraged by an audience self-selected to be uniform.
- Things become important merely because others have decided they are important.
- Top down messaging encourages an echo chamber (agree with this edict or change the channel).
- Ill-informed about history and this particular issue.
- Confusing opinion with the truth.
- Revising facts to fit a point of view.
- Unwillingness to review past mistakes in light of history and use those to do better next time.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Recently, on the Prodigal Kiwi blog there was an intriguing post quoting Chris Erdman, a Presbyterian minister. It comes from his book, Returning to the Centre (you can download the first chapter) and relates to a conversation he had with Sister Benedicta Ward. I would guess she's his spiritual advisor, from the conversation that takes place.
In the quote, he begins the conversation by saying: “...I can’t see non-judgment and leadership walking hand in hand in the real world.”
“You lead people,” she said, “I understand that, and that is required of you as a shepherd, but is leader who you are? What did the hermit tell Joseph? ‘Ask yourself at all times, “Who are you?” So I ask you, Christopheros, who are you?”...Her question hung in the air.
Humiliated, I said at last: “I don’t think I know.”
Sister Benedicta goes on to say that we think not knowing who we are is a 'bad thing.' However, her point is that only God can know who we truly are, and it's only in prayer that we come to know this too.
The 'conversation' isn't long, but it's worth chewing over, particularly for leaders who think they have to have everything sussed before they can lead.
Monday, October 12, 2009
A first is a community. Paradoxically, community is vital if you want to work on yourself. It is only with others that you can properly take the risk of not just reading about ideas but making them your own. That's why visiting art galleries, or listening to music, isn't really enough. It's too passive. Instead, as any educationalist will tell you, an active stance is required. Hence, a rich learning experience doesn't just involve studying, but writing your own work and reading it out to others too, in preparedness for their critique. It's rather like the risk an artist takes, or a writer of blogs for that matter.
It's also why educational establishments are highly ritualised, shaped by ceremonies and etiquette. The first universities in the west, like those at Oxford and Cambridge, took that from the medieval madrassas. They were places designed to leverage the business of studying together in order that it might shape lives. An engaged community is a crucial asset.
A second advantage that the church-going habit can exemplify is the very desire to be changed at all. Of course, many who go to church do so for the opposite reason: they fear the "changes and chances of this fleeting world" as the old prayer has it, and see the church as a kind of conservative refuge. However, I went to Greenbelt for the first time this year, the liberal Christian festival, having been invited to talk about agnosticism. What struck me was how open folk there were to ideas: they put themselves on the line when they engaged with what was said. They weren't defensive, but rather desired to see whether they might be changed in the process. This must be one of the positive aspects of a thinking evangelical faith: such evangelicals believe in the power of words, because they believe in God's word; and they believe the power of words is transformational, because they believe God's word changes everything.
Thursday, October 08, 2009
Only about one-half of those who claim [in surveys] to attend weekly church services actually do. You know how I estimate who goes to church? I just walk out into a neighborhood and take a look at the houses on a given block. Most are not in church.
Fewer and fewer people are attending church these days. How do we stem that tide?
1) I think each local church must take responsibility for its own "turf," so to speak, and develop creative ways to stimulate its people to become genuine salt and light.
2) Next, I believe the church must be built on a foundation of biblical truth rather than spiritual entertainment.
3) And, finally, I really believe we must be working hard to close the "back door." We need to know why people do not or no longer attend just as much as we need to know why they do attend.
And the people who do attend church all said, Amen! All three of these points are vital to keep in mind when it comes to mission/outreach/evangelism/going out into the community - whatever you want to call it. Local, biblical and discipled.
There are some great stories of what it was like to grow up in Auckland as a child on the NZ site from a bunch of well-known Aucklanders (they call them 'celebrities' but I don't think NZ really does 'celebrities;' we all know each other too well).
Just in case you don't know what a neighbour is (I mean, the bloke in the New Testament had to ask, didn't he?) here's what's on the Aussie site. Plainly they needed a dictionary definition to help....
Neighbour = neighbor n. 1. someone who lives near another.
2. a person or thing that is near another.
3. a fellow being subject to the obligations of humanity.
courtesy Macquarie Dictionary
Okay, you go into your house through the door on the right; your neighbour (see above) goes in and out that door that's obscured by the tree.
In this article they discuss the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation, and how the two don't necessarily go hand in hand: we can forgive without being reconciled, and in some cases can be reconciled without forgiveness arising. They look at different situations where forgiveness has been offered when it seemed the most unlikely thing to do (such as when the Amish community at Nickel Mines, PA, had several of its children murdered by a gunman) and the way in which forgiveness is increasingly being explored within the research community. (Closer to home there have been instances of Pacific Island communities forgiving those who've murdered one of their own, and of course the Sycamore Tree project in prisons is a prime example of forgiveness and reconciliation at work.)
Myron Friesen is currently a research fellow with the department of psychology at the University of Canterbury. His Masters and PhD research focused on forgiveness in individuals and couples. His wife, Genista, is an Occupational Therapist and aspiring children's author. They have been married for 18 years, have two sons, and currently reside in Christchurch.
The story comes from CWM (Christian World Mission) news - CWM has been involved in funding the Kids Friendly movement.
Youth leaders from Calvin Community Church in Gore recently helped children organise and invite church elders to an evening meal where they could sit down and and get to know each other over a roast dinner.
Each church elder was assigned one or two children to greet and take care of them throughout the duration of the meal.
The idea of the event was to get children sharing a bit about themselves with the elder they were taking care of, and to help pave the way for better communication between younger and older members of the church in the wake of their new Kids Friendly status.
Youth worker at Calvin Community Church, Sandra Gow [pictured at right] said the evening was a great success for both the children and the church elders.
“During dinner the children shared a bit about themselves using photos and props. They then asked the elders about their leadership using a number of questions like: What is an elder? Why are you an elder? What do you find hardest about being a Christian?
“We ended our time of serving with one of our favourite action memory verses from Matthew 22.37 'Love the Lord you God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' The evening was a moving and memorable time for all.”
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
In a video on the Perspectives on Wellbeing page of the Mental Health Foundation of NZ's website, Maori language scholar and author Ruth Makuini Tai talks about finding out who you really are - by leaving behind the 'other' voices in your life, as well as providing new insights into the meaning of 'aroha' and the simple greeting 'kia ora' (which turns out to say considerably more in those six letters than you'd think).
The video runs for a couple of minutes, maybe three, and Ruth packs a good deal into that short space of time. I can't link directly to the video, because it's not a You Tube-type, so here's the address.
On the same page, there's another video, this time by Judi Clements, in which she discusses the five ways everyone can support their own wellbeing and that of the world around them, including family, friends, colleagues and the wider community. The five ways are connecting, being active, taking notice, learning and giving.
Kaumatua Wiremu Kora said mid-Canterbury was “like a big cultural melting pot.”. The purpose of the meeting was to present ideas on how to support and assist newcomers and to get feedback from the wider community. The report made 17 major recommendations for action on the basis of focus group discussions that were held from late 2007 and May 2009.
There were groups for ESOL learners, Romanian learning centre clients, Pacific secondary school students, Filipino farm workers, Samoan women, Chinese temporary residentsm and a number of other mixed and specific groups.
The report also contains valuable feedback from social service providers and employers, including a farming sector focus group which raised important issues facing migrant workers and their families in the rural sector.
For a copy of the report email Raewyn Barclay of Ashburton Safer Community Council.
By ethnicity in this instance meant that they favoured a particular ethnic group over another, or a mix of ethnicities. In part this is a result of social change and the acceptability of being something other than what you’d been brought up to be.
However, it means that statistical figures, whether they be Census figures or ones taken in other situations, can be more untrustworthy than we think when viewed over a longer period.
In Canada, for example, Guimond (2006) found that the census count of the population with aboriginal origin went from 711,000 to 1,102,000 persons, with a large part of this growth occurring between 1986 and 1991. He noted that this fast growth could not be explained by natural and migratory increases alone, and that much ethnic mobility was occurring. (Pg 2 of the report)
There may not be such extreme ‘growth’ here, but certainly the possibilities of change are worth bearing in mind.
Photo by mac steve
Evidence From A New Zealand Birth Cohort - Marie, Ferguson and Boden.
From the abstract:
Exposure to maltreatment in childhood, including sexual abuse, severe physical punishment and inter-parental violence, is an issue of growing concern in New Zealand. The present study examined the associations between ethnic identity and exposure to childhood maltreatment among a longitudinal birth cohort of individuals born in Christchurch in 1977.
Participants of Maori ethnicity reported higher rates of exposure to physical punishment and inter-parental violence, but did not report higher rates of exposure to sexual abuse. Control for a range of socio-economic and family functioning factors reduced the magnitude of the associations between ethnicity and both physical punishment and inter-parental violence, but did not fully account for the associations between ethnicity and maltreatment exposure.
Furthermore, adjustment for variations in Maori cultural identity indicated that cohort members of sole Maori identity were at significantly increased risk of exposure to both physical punishment and inter-parental violence.
It was concluded that Maori, and in particular those of sole Maori cultural identity, were at higher risk of exposure to physical punishment and inter-parental violence, and that the associations could not be fully explained by either socio-economic deprivation or exposure to family dysfunction in childhood.
This report is a valuable overview of research done as to why Maori children in particular are suffering greater abuse than their non-Maori counterparts.
Photo by Clayton Scott
Here (courtesy of the Skye Jethani) are some interesting stats relating to the way Christianity has changed colour in the last hundred or so years.
• Today there are more missionaries from Brazil engaged in cross-cultural ministry than from Britain or Canada.
• There are over 10,000 foreign Christian workers serving in Britain, France, Germany, and Italy—and more than 35,000 in the U.S. Most of the missionaries in Britain are from Africa and Asia.
• "This past Sunday it is possible that more Christian believers attended church in China than in all of so-called 'Christian Europe.'"
• "This past Sunday more Presbyterians were in church in Ghana than in Scotland."
• "Today, the largest Christian congregation in Europe is in Kiev, and it is pastored by a Nigerian of Pentecostal background."
• "More than half of all Christian adherents in the whole history of the church have been alive in the last one hundred years. Close to half of Christian believers who have ever lived are alive right now."
• In 1900, over 80 percent of the Christian population was Caucasian and over 70 percent lived in Europe. Now, according to historian Dana Robert, "The typical late twentieth-century Christian was no longer a European man but a Latin American or African Woman."
Despite having more resources and education than any other Christians in history, the Western church has been overseeing a significant contraction while Africans, South Asians, and Latin Americans - often under resourced - are watching the church expand beyond belief.
Maybe we don't have church/mission figured out.
NZ PRESBYTERIAN RESEARCH NETWORK
Lecture Spring Series
Presbyterian Way of Life in
19th Century New Zealand -
Dr Alison Clarke
This paper presents an overview of ten years of research as it relates to Presbyterians in colonial New Zealand. It addresses, in particular, some of the structures of life: how people ordered their weeks and their years, their attitudes to work and leisure, the festivals they celebrated and the fasts they kept, and their involvement in the sacraments.
Frank Nichol, Hewitson Wing, Knox College
Arden Street, off Opoho Road.
Thursday 15 October 2009
Refreshments at 5pm
Gold Coin Donation
Picture courtesy of the Presbyterian Archives in Dunedin. See here for many more similar items.
The site offers people a series of interactive exercises and mental health surveys, as well as information on where to access face-to-face or telephone counselling, and other mental health services.
The lead researcher, Dr Shyamala Nada-Raja said that researchers were happy with the number of participants enrolled so far, but the trial still needed a total of 700 participants to be statistically valid. 660 were enrolled so far, and she hoped to have another 40 within the next couple of weeks, after which enrolments would be closed.
660 people enrolled so far
Participants range in age from 18-70
30% of participants men; 20% new migrants 16% of participants live in rural areas
14% of participants have a physical disability
About 50% of participants are also receiving treatment elsewhere for anxiety or depression
About 50% of participants say their anxiety or depression relates to an underlying physical problem such as chronic pain
adapted from an article in the Otago Daily Times, Tuesday Oct 6th, 2009
Monday, October 05, 2009
Kirstin Vander Giessen-Reitsma
"Bringing up Bart" from catapult magazine
The brief article this quote comes from turns out to be about more than the pleasures of play. However, on the basis of what the quote itself says, I'd comment that all humans inhabit the stage of life referred to here. All of us can benefit from laughing readily, behaving outrageously and remembering the pleasures of play. If we can't, we're only half human, I suspect!
Sunday, October 04, 2009
In Research commissioned by www.allaboutlife.com.au 54% of Australians - both believers and non-believers - ranked Jesus as the number one most influential person in history. He beat Albert Einstein - who came in at second place (16%) - and Charles Darwin, third at 9%.
Approximately 5 in 6 (83%) said Jesus was a real figure from history.
Of those who ranked Jesus top, 43% believed he had miraculous powers, and that he was the son of God. It seems Australia still has faith: 2 out of 5 Australians stated they practice a religion and only 27% said they didn't believe in a God or universal power of any sort.
1 in 10 (10%) thought that if Jesus returned today he would be unemployed.
While the majority of Australians don't practice a religion (60%), nearly 3 in 5 (57%) pray at various times during their lives with over a third (36%) praying to God.
Of those who pray the regularity varies dramatically, with 29% praying daily. 19% are part-time prayers, praying just several times a year.
The most common situations for prayer are when people are faced with challenging times (36%) or when a loved one has fallen ill (34%). However over 1 in 3 Australians also pray when they're thankful for something good that has happened (34%)
Surprisingly Gen Y proved the most traditional generation when it comes to praying, choosing traditional methods of prayer practices such as closing eyes, placing hands together and bowing heads, which were most common amongst young adults.
3 in 5 have no particular rules for their praying. This tendency increases with age. Older Australians (aged 64+) are the most likely to have no particular rules for their prayer.
* 63% of Australians turn to their partners/spouse for help and emotional support and half of Australians turn to other family
* Nearly half (49%) of Australians turn to their friends
* Nearly a third (28%) of Australians turn to God in their time of need, while 15% turn to Jesus
* The web offers the least support with only 6% of Australians turning to online friends and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter
* Only 4% turn to the Internet to consult with sites such as Google.
Daniel Willis, co-founder of Jesus: All About Life, commented, “This research gives a great insight into people’s beliefs about Jesus and their faith today. The fact that Jesus is revealed to be the most influential figure in history shows his message is as relevant today as it was 2000 years ago and people still look to him as source of inspiration.
"While not all Australians follow a religion this research reveals that many people still pray expecting an answer and especially turn to others and faith when experiencing tough times and are in need of support.
"It is surprising that Gen Y appear to be more traditional, returning to the values and practices of their grandparent’s generation to help them in times of uncertainty."
Thursday, October 01, 2009
This has to be good for mission in our community.
Thanks to Social Media and the expansions of Web 2.0 communities the degree of separation between you and spiritual seekers is closer than you may expect.
Adapted from a piece in BusinessBlogs.
“The Anabaptist writer and practitioner, Stuart Murray Williams, has been the most trenchant critic of the tendency of older church plants to copy the outward forms and style of their sending church, without asking whether the new mission context was different. This can result in failure to let the shape and form of the new church be determined by the mission context for which it was intended. The call for new kinds of churches can become subverted into the production of MORE churches.”
Pg 20, The Mission Shaped Church (various authors)
In The Open Secret, Lesslie Newbigin said: “the significant advances of the church have not been the result of our own decision about the mobilizing and allocating of “resources” [rather] the significant advances have come through happenings of which the story of Peter and Cornelius is a paradigm, in ways of which we have no advance knowledge.”
(both quotes courtesy of the Next Reformation blog)
Finding Sanctuary: monastic steps for everyday life, by Christopher Jamieson.
This book came out as a result of a BBC television series called The Monastery, in which five men from various backgrounds stayed at Worth Abbey for forty days, guided and helped by the monks who live there.
The book mentions the television series as a starting point, but its real focus is the Rule of St Benedict, which the monks live by. Benedict’s ‘Rule’ isn’t a set of rules, but a series of chapters in which the reader is encouraged to learn how to be more at peace in his or her daily life, whether that life is lived out inside a monastery or in the everyday world.
The book is simply written, and, as one reviewer says, Jamieson is ‘generous with his insights, but never self-righteous, smug or preachy.’ I read the book recently and found it valuable in thinking about how to keep the spiritual focus in my life more to the fore.
Orion Publishing Group 2006