Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Missional Benevolence?

Underlying many of our conversations at Skillman about becoming missional is a consistently voiced thought that the purpose of our participation in the Partnership for Missional Church is to attract more people and increase our numbers. I've not been articulate enough to bring about an understanding that becoming missional is about fulfilling the mission that Jesus gave us, that attracting new members may be a by-product but is not the goal. Transformed lives is the goal...

A recent conversation about reviving our Benevolence Program illustrates. A comment was made that we need to revive our food pantry because we have people who want to have a food pantry and who enjoy working in it. We need to provide that opportunity for them so we can retain them. Also, if people see that we have a benevolence program, they will find that attractive and want to be a part of it.

We may need to revive the food pantry, or we may not. If we do, it should be in partnership with our community to address a need in our community - not to provide a program to make our members happy or to be attractive to the neighborhood. The missional mindset has not yet become the norm...


Larry James said...

Craig, this is on target thinking in my book! Central Dallas Ministries loves Skillman and we have long desired a closer working relationship with you as we engage and work alongside our materially poor neighbors. We remain open to you and to considering new, missional partnerships as your describe.

Anonymous said...

Craig, why don't we just partner with these Central Dallas Ministries folks? Don't they have food pantries? Rather than recreate the wheel, let's get more involved with them. They know what they're doing, and I bet our time/resources would do more good there than at our church. Maybe we could invite them to speak again about getting involved?

Craig said...

I think we will get to the point where we do partner more with CDM. We have a number of folks now who do so on an individual basis. I see two significant barriers - both of which can be overcome - to more corporate partnership.
The first is a feeling among some that we have abdicated our own responsibility to the poor by not having a formal benevolence program ourselves, and since we have provided varying levels of financial support to Central Dallas Ministries over the years that we have turned our responsibility over to them. A significant part of our missional conversation has centered around doing rather than writing a check for someone else to do. I believe there is a place for both.
The second barrier is that we have a tendency to be self focused. We want to revive the food pantry because a)it makes us feel good; or b)it makes us look good for doing it - makes us more attractive.
I don't believe that these are universally prevalent attitudes, but they do exist to some degree, and will need to be addressed in any partnership with Central Dallas Ministries, other churches, or community organizations.

Jeremy Gregg said...

Anonymous and Craig:

Thank you both for your heart and your interest in CDM! Yes, anonymous, we definitely have a food pantry you can get involved with. If you'd like, come visit us any Monday through Thursday morning, or Saturday morning, at 409 N. Haskell, Dallas, Texas 75246.

If you come by during the week, please ask for me. I'd love to meet you!

We also have another pantry, as well as a gymnasium, community life center, and children's education program right down the street from Skillman ... in the Roseland Homes community at Hall and 75. I think that there are lots of great mission opportunities there, which Skillman CoC could definitely "own" a bit more than simply getting involved in our primary pantry on Haskell. I'd love to get one of your groups involved in some work there on a regular basis (parent education classes, cooking classes, etc.).

Craig, please let us know if we can ever be of service to you or your amazing and inspirational church! We would love to have some of your members come by for a tour of our organization, both to learn about what we do and to learn how Skillman could replicate some of our work through your own church.

Many blessings to you!

Jeremy Gregg
Director of Development
Central Dallas Ministries

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