Earlier this week Peter McDonald and I spend some time with the ministers at the Blackwood Uniting Church.
Blackwood UCA is a very community focused church with high value of justice and community service. Like many Churches, however, Blackwood’s approach to community work has been one of constant program addition. This congregation find themselves supporting a reasonably large portfolio of programs all of which are “good” but which, together represent an exhausting resource burden to the congregation.
The challenge to many churches is that what we are doing is good. It is good to have people from the community walking through our doors even if just for a weekly Pilates class, it feels good to serve socially isolated or poor people with a hot meal once a week. There is so much good to do and how can we agree to stop doing what is good? Or how can we decide which good thing to stop doing and which should continue?
At times like this I think it is helpful to take an approach common among young children of asking that deeply significant question: WHY? WHY? WHY? …And to keep asking that question until we have a sleek, powerful and objective purpose against which to measure all of which we engage in (and by which to continue to measure those things regularly).
I work regularly with Occupational Therapy students overseeing their Participatory Community Practice projects. Their university supervisory continuously asks them:
“What is it, as Occupational Therapists, that you can contribute to Community Development that could not be contributed by a Physiotherapist, Priest, Social Worker or Community Nurse?”
It is a great question and one that we can refine for our own work,
There are many many good things we can be doing but what are we uniquely gifted, inspired and placed in community for that is not, or could not, be contributed by others?
Read Peter’s thoughts on our Faith in Action page HERE
Please feel welcome to contribute your own thoughts in the comment box below.