Congregations and Church agencies – our similarities and differences

The Community Outreach Network has sought my input about the role of church agencies.  So I have prepared to the topic “Congregations and Church agencies – making the best of our similarities and differences for isolated people”.  We will cover

  • my presentation (see link below)
  • a modified world cafe experience
  • feedback from the groups
  • and summary of ABCD and Faith in ActionVermon UCA

Click on this link for pdf copy of my presentation

We had near forty participants with two joining us via skype from Barmera.


Record of the Table Group Response to questions about well being.

1:  What is our congregations contribution to the well being of others?  assets

  • Friendship
  • Worship and prayer
  • Keeping in touch
  • Provision of food and hospitality / thrift shop
  • Change is possible in people
  • Elders
  • Provision of Transport
  • Our halls are availiable and used by wider community
  • Visit people and invite people into our homes


2:  In what way does Australian culture assist and distract from our well being?  concerns

  • Assists
    • Fair go / she’ll be right culture
    • Sport
    • Australian humour / sarcasim
    • Internet
  • Distracts
    • Fair go / she’ll be right culture
    • Sport
    • Australian humour / sarcasim
    • Morale ethical concerns / materialism
    • body image
    • men’s health
    • difficult talking about inner person
    • social media
    • lack of purpose

3:  What is it would could improve about the way we offer well being?   improvements

  • aware of other people and their feelings
  • try to see past the externals that people have on show
  • Jesus to be the Judge and not ourselves
  • reduce our reluctance to change
  • empower people and decision making
  • to be open to who people really are – and seek joint disclosure
  • close the gap between the mature and the youthful with innovative ideas and actions
  • Take time to make time



Standing on the balcony

This is about the way the workshop was hosted and operated.

The Method/tool

In preparation for this evening I met with key participants Allan Barnes and Malcolm Rawlings.  I modifield a World Cafe process which meant that participants moved around and spoke to people they may not have if we  had met in a lecture style gathering.

The Questions

Malcolm and I landed on three questions we thought would open up the topic of ‘well being’.  Note how the first question I asked was teases out the assets that are availiable to this community.

1:  What is our congregations contribution to the well being of others? 

Then the second questions asks them to tease our a concern that they might have.

2:  In what way does Australian culture assist and distract from our well being? 

And the third questions asks what would you like to contribute to this issue.

3:  What is it would could improve about the way we offer well being?  


I concluded the presentation by inviting participants to review material on this website and offered an invitation to our monthly Faith in Action gatherings.

Text referred to my presentation:


Presentation and Workshop Community Outreach Network  22nd Feb 2013, Vermont Uniting Church


  • Colleen – Connecting isolated people
  • Similarities and differences between church agencies and church congregations.
    • Agencies are good and assisting people after a crisis.
    • Prevention is better than Cure
    • Example around Domestic Violence
    • Congregations have a critical role around the prevention.
    • LIFELINE  If / when you need help don’t ring your favourite social service agency – ring Lifeline and they will be able who is best able to help.
  • Be informed about mental health, recovery and what well being looks like.
  • Be informed about what makes communities work well

Workshop – Modified Open Space

  • What does good wellbeing look like?
  • How does Australian culture assist or distract us from well being?
  • How might we recognise and improve our contribution to well being in the community?

Plenary – Feedback time

What made this workshop an ABCD event?

  • Don’t hold a meeting when you can hold a party.
  • We have people in the room who have wealth of experience so we draw it out.
  • We spend time thinking about what the questions are and how to get the group to talk about important matters.  ABCD is a about good methods / ways to connect people together.  And to talk about things which most matter.

Faith in Action

  • Faith in Action is a monthly gathering of those who are interested in improving our ability to get connect people together and to talk about things which most matter.
  • Faith in Action is a monthly group which tests the limits of Assets Based Community Development (ABCD) for congregations and similar organisations.  To learn more click here