Partnership for Congregational Renewal
A description of the present period in western culture wherein the environment within which congregations live no longer provides the primary resources and support for making disciples of Jesus Christ. Instead of families, schools, and other public institutions supporting the basic tasks of Christian life, these same institutions are hostile or at best indifferent to the life of Christian discipleship. It is the time in which the church prepares for a new age of mission.
A characteristic and relatively unique aspect of the Partnership for Congregational Renewal, the members of the Partnership become partners in researching themselves. They are invited not only to do things well but to understand what they have learned and become able to share it with others.
GOD’S PREFERRED FUTURE:
While no one can claim to have a corner on God’s preferred future, the Partnership for Congregational Renewal risks on the promise of Jesus to give the Holy Spirit to maintain the church in truth. We believe this promise is not only to massive organisational and institutional structures of the Church but also and for us critically a promise to congregations in which people gather around word and sacrament. The Partnership for Congregational Renewal invites these congregations to open themselves to a process of spiritual discernment and expects the Holy Spirit to preserve them in truth as they seek to find what God is calling them to do in mission in their world. The Partnership invites them to think not just globally but theocentrically, a God-centered vision for mission, as they act locally.
LONG RANGE PLAN:
A single-page-per-year document that describe three to five focus areas for expanding existing mission of the congregation. The document distributes the activities that are designed to achieve the Vision for Mission over a three to five year period of time. Such a plan begins by asking, if this Vision for Mission is what we want to be reality five years from now, what must we do in four, three, two, one year from now; what must we do six months and six weeks from now to achieve it?
The congregations of the Partnership for Congregational Renewal are asked to share what they have learned from the Partnership. They will be assisted through a process of research and reflection in ascertaining what they have learned and how they might best share it with other congregations.
During the time of Christendom it was possible for congregations to take as their primary purpose the preservation and furthering of European culture, since it was so intimately linked to Christianity. Congregations still are trying to preserve and further the entire western agenda rather than focusing on the one unique mission of the Christian church: an explicit witness to the mission of God in Jesus Christ on behalf of the world. The Partnership for Congregational Renewal helps congregations wean themselves from their dependence upon a diffused attempt to maintain all aspects of the western agenda and focus themselves on God’s preferred future for their congregation.
A short sentence or two stating in clear terms for the congregation what they believe to be their core identity and purpose for being a community of faith .
PARTNERSHIP FOR CONGREGATIONAL RENEWAL:
A partnership of congregations, judicatory leaders, and the Church Innovations Institute for renewing congregations after Christendom. Its primary purpose is to assist congregations in discerning God’s preferred future for their congregation and providing a step by step process for achieving it.
A telephone support network that supplies bimonthly consultation with each congregation’s coordinator to troubleshoot problems, discuss progress, and attend to the spiritual journey of the leaders and congregation as a whole.
SMART PLAN OF ACTION:
A document that takes approximately one page for each focus area in the three to five year Long Range Plan. Each SMART Plan of Action page includes the following:
- Specific, Concrete Objectives (what will be done, accomplished)
- Mission, Outreach Focus (who will be served, actual numbers and persons)
- Authority, Authorization, Accountability (who is authorized to see the work done)
- Resources available and needed
- Time line for implementation
VISIONING FOR ACTING TRAINING:
Phase 2 of the The Partnership for Congregational Renewal in which congregational leaders will learn through an action/reflection model how to facilitate the process of spiritual discernment. There are two sessions in Visioning for Acting Training, one to introduce and launch the process and one to assist the leaders with the completion of the process.
VISION FOR MISSION:
A vision for mission is one or two paragraphs that describe the picture in our mind of a preferred future, given by God, based on an accurate understanding of God, ourselves, and our circumstances. Since it is to be mission focused, it describes activities over the next three to five years of members of the congregation carried on with persons who are not now members of any Christian congregation. These activities must grow out of the core values of the congregation and serve the perceived and depth needs of unchurched members of the community in terms that these persons being served experience these activities as adding value to their lives. In short, it’s a description of members of the congregation coring and caring; coring to the center of their own faith and caring out of that center for those unchurched other in their lives.
Everett M. Rogers and Karyn L. Scott
Department of Communication and Journalism
University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87131-1171
FAX: (505) 277-4206
Draft paper prepared for the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Pacific Northwest Region, Seattle. December 10, 1997
The Diffusion of Innovations Model and Outreach from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine to Native American Communities
Everett M. Rogers and Karyn L. Scott*
“…I still consider good information to be the best medicine.”
(Dr. Michael E. DeBakey, Chair, Board of Regents, National Library of Medicine)
The purpose of the present essay is to derive lessons learned from past research on the diffusion of innovations that could be utilized in medical library outreach. We place a main emphasis on how to evaluate the effects (impacts) of such medical library outreach activities on the intended audience of health care professionals, particularly Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. We stress the promising potential of new communication technologies like the Internet in delivering medical library information resources; examples are the Internet GRATEFUL MED and the WWW-based free access to MEDLINE.
It’s the system not the individual most of the time that determines the ability to get things done in a church staff. The system of relationships, the dynamics of those relationships, their engagement with the missional vocation of the congregation, overwhelmingly dominate the energy of any one person in a staff system. We give a percentage to this reality: 85/15 principle.
The 85/15 principle means that the power of the system of relationships in a staff system accounts for 85% of the achievement of the staff and the power of anyone individual accounts for 15% of the achievement of the staff. Similarly the power of anyone individual only accounts for the failure of the staff 15% of the time. So, while it surely is true, a staff is only as strong as its weakest core member, such a so-called “weak link” cannot account for most of the failure of a staff. Indeed, the failure of any one weak link over time is clearly a failure of the system, too.
We have seen many a staff allow one person shape the emotional field of the staff for good or ill. We have watched one staff person energize the complete staff or create such negative energy that the entire system seems to freeze.
The 85/15 principle means that no matter how powerful a particular individual or individual event is, it is the ability of the system of relationships of the staff to change either positively or negatively in response to such high point moments that determine the long term strength or weakness of the staff. When such moments, persons, and events prove energizing, it is a sign that the system of the staff, itself, has grown or realized its own strengths or, in the case of the negative energy, has weakened or realized its own weaknesses.
So, we have learned that when we are invited by congregational leaders to work with a “problem staff person,” a so-called “designated patient,” we are as interested in finding out the dynamics that give that person so much power in the system and the embodied values of the system that shape that persons actions. We have observed many times that removing one person in a system without addressing the system usually leads to another person filling the role in the system that the original “problem staff person” filled. In short, we changed the personnel but not the system so that we only marginally changed the system for the better.
It’s the system.
Western Culture Observed by a Cross-cultural Missionary
Author: Dae Ryeong Kim
December 24, 2000
Although we tend to think of evangelism only at personal level, it was Lesslie Newbigin who preached the necessity of “social evangelism” so that Christian message can be heard and accepted in wider circle of society. In a society where Christian gospel has become marginalized, the Church has to claim it as a public truth. He served almost forty years as a cross-cultural missionary in the east. Yet, he is better known to us a missionary to western culture by initiating “gospel and culture” movement. His life, ministry, and writings demonstrate us how missiological insights enable someone located within a culture to see beyond that culture. It was he who invited us to re-examine the western culture of modernism from Christian perspective. It was he who advocated that the secularized western culture is a mission filed no less than a foreign mission filed. He even argued that re-evangelizing the western culture would be very strategic for the mission of the Christian Church challenged by modernism and postmodernism. In that his missionary contribution calls for a paradigm shift of Christian evangelism, one might say that his cross-cultural insights is equal to Newton’s discovery of the law of gravity in natural science.
One day Issac Newton was sleeping under an apple tree and was awaken when an apple fall on his forehead. Of course, Newton was not the first person who had ever seen an apple falling from the tree. And there were thousands of people who would mention, “The apple had grown big enough so that it was time to fall down” or “It was a matter of natural law that things above fall dawn below.” But the greatness of Newton lies in that he refused to be satisfied with that kind of explanation and continued to ask the question why the apple fall down until he discovered the law of gravity. No less great is the insight of Newbigin the missiologist. People usually attributed the stagnation of the English Church in the twentieth century to secularization, and if asked why the English society was going through secularization, they would vaguely attribute it to the trends of modern times. But Newbigin did not stop there and investigated until he attributed the root of the secularization of western culture to the wrong assumptions of the Enlightenment.
Like the Queen Mother of the British monarchy, Rev. Lesslie Newbigin was born at the beginning of the twentieth century, and lived almost a century. If the Queen Mother is the history of the British monarchy in the twentieth century, and Newbigin the history of English Church mission movement in the century. Just as Moses in the Old Testament had become a leader of the Exodus after forty years of his life in Egypt and forty years of cross-cultural experience, Lesslie Newbigin had become a leader of the “gospel and culture” movement after forty years of his life in Britain and forty years of cross-cultural experience. With his unusual gift of communicating all the difficult philosophical, sociological, and theological concepts, he tells us what he experienced in his life and ministry.
Returning from his forty years of missionary service oversees (with most of his service in the East) Newbigin saw that Britain was no longer the same Britain he saw before his departure to his mission field in India. The Great Britain in the past was the center of modern civilization to where people from every side of the world came to learn advanced civilization including government and medicine. But about the time he was returning home, he saw English young men in India wandering the city in unwashed clothes to learn the oriental wisdom. Issac Newton’s vision of modernism was to export the light of enlightenment and civilization to the whole world. But here were the British young people who were disappointed by the civilization that modernism had brought. The hope for the promise of modernism had faded away!
His pastoral experience as a retired missionary was another illustration of the cultural context of modernity Newbigin observed. When a small church in the district of the Asian immigrants was about to be closed by the presbytery, Newbigin appealed for the preservation of the congregation and was allowed to assume the pastoral position of the church on the condition of no pay for his pastoral ministry. When he was visiting the neighborhood to win a chance for evangelism, the English family often met him with cold refusal on the door. It was rather the pagan Asian families who invited him to the living room for tea. And when rarely an English neighbor opened the door, it was no longer the Bible but the television which occupied the center of the English family living.
In this context Newbigin experienced that far more difficult than to evangelize a Hindu was to evangelize a British. To bear witness to Christ to a Hindu is a hard work enough. But even though they opposed to Christian faith, the Hinds were, at least, not uninterested in a spiritual topic. And far more difficult was to evangelize who were not interested in spiritual affair than who oppose to Christian faith. It was the kind of society where faith was considered as a matter of personal choice, and therefore evangelism was taken as intruding one’s privacy. And that in the homeland of the Puritan movement, in the land with the heritage of the Wesleyan spiritual revival, and the hometown of the great preachers such as Spurgeon! This illustrates that the same Britain can be a spiritually productive land in one age, and barren in other age.
As Newbigin’s life and ministry demonstrate it, a cross-cultural missionary sees his or her own culture with the Christian eyes of a foreigner, and the foreigner can see what the native cannot see (Newbigin 1994:68). This is why cross-cultural mission has implications for theology. Even a brief survey of the history of western theology illustrates this. Because of the total dominance of European culture in the ecumenical movement, there has seldom been any awareness among Western theologians of the extent to which their own theologies have been the result of a failure to challenge the assumptions of their own culture. This failure reduced Western Christianity to what Karl Barth calls “Culture Christianity” whose theology was a mere reflection of the modernist assumptions. Now it was Lesslie Newbigin who challenged the false assumptions of the western culture shaped by modernism.