New & Summaries
"Service Learning" & "Participatory" Community
See also Reinventing the World: The Mind-Changing Process
Communitarianism | Faith-Based Compromise | Re-Inventing the Church
The Different Drum: Community-Making and Peace
Home - News Index - Articles
Volunteer rates hit record numbers: "...young people see service organizations as an antidote to a sense of helplessness toward world problems. 'We have a venue to make a difference, and the best thing about it is we are not alone. We're part of a team, and I know that we're collectively working to impact something.' ....
Many are more attuned to volunteer services because colleges and high schools increasingly offer courses and credits for 'service-learning.'... A volunteer's experience overseas and commitment to service are also attractive to employers, she says. 'It's pretty much helping out your community and helping others while helping yourself,' says AmeriCorps*VISTA member Tabaris Gregg." See The Draft is Back and the next link:
M. Scott Peck obituary: "Peck, who has died aged 69, was a psychiatrist and author of The Road Less Travelled, the ultimate self-help manual.... Its opening sentence, 'Life is difficult', introduced a tome which argued... that human experience was trying and imperfectible, and that only self-discipline, delaying gratification, acceptance that one's actions have consequences, and a determined attempt at spiritual growth could make sense of it. By contrast, Peck himself was, by his own admission, a ... chain-smoking neurotic whose life was characterised by incessant infidelity....
"Peck... found himself drawn from Eastern mysticism to mainstream Christianity.... He... published The Different Drum." In spite of his erratic lifestyle, his influence on churches and "Christian" leadership training has been substantial.See Re-Inventing the Church, Part 2
Wiping stereotypes of India off the books: "Sandhya Kumar teaches her three daughters about other countries, cultures and religions. She wants them to take pride in their Indian heritage and Hindu faith -- and to respect and understand other views. ... She and dozens of other Indian American parents launched a campaign to change the way their history is taught in Fairfax. ...they recommended that teachers expand their lessons on topics including Hindu writings; the value system, including the four stages of life; reincarnation and salvation.
"School officials said that if members of other religions or ethnic groups raise concerns, they are ready to listen. 'This is not the end of a conversation,' Monday said. 'This is the beginning of a conversation about how we handle our increasingly diverse community.'" Al Gore’s Vision of Planetary Oneness
Create a Culture of Connectivity in Your church: "With this new book and CD, you’ll be able to dig deep into what matters most in keeping people coming back to your church. You’ll explore how to create a climate of community." What about the old, timeless book, the Bible? Has it been replaced by marketing manuals and psycho-social strategies for group thinking? See Creating Community through a New Way of Thinking
Church leaders work to alter public perception: "...some evangelical Christian leaders worry that people have the wrong idea about them, equating 'evangelical' with 'conservative,' 'Republican,' 'reactionary' and 'judgmental.'... 'People have no idea as to who we really are,' said the Rev. Erwin Lutzer, one of the Gatekeepers.... When the evangelical church stepped into the political arena, it actually made itself a target, I think, in the wider communities in America.'...
"The Gatekeepers include pastors Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, James Meeks... James McDonald... Mark Jobe.... 'If this group really does come together for some great causes, it will represent hope that diverse yet Christ-honoring groups can come together and span some of what used to be thought of as uncrossable chasms,' said Hybels...."I think some evangelicals have put too much emphasis on what Christ's followers are against, as opposed to what are the great causes....'
"And what would those causes be? 'First would be the poor and the oppressed,' Hybels said, '...the hungry, the homeless.... Certainly, it would be AIDS. Lack of education. It's the classic causes that Jesus talked about in the Sermon on the Mount.'"
No, those aren't the main "causes" Jesus outlined in that great message. His concerns dealt with the heart and spirit, not possessions or earthly: Blessed are the "poor in spirit," those who mourn or hunger for His righteousness, the meek, the merciful, the pure, the peacemakers (sharing God's way to peace, not practicing conflict resolution), those who face persecution for His name's sake, those who -- by His Spirit -- seek His kingdom, not earthly gains and are salt and light in the dark and corrupt world. See The Secret of Abundant Life
A message from the U.S. Faith-Based Inititiative Office: Hi, I'm Jim Towey, director of President Bush’s Faith-Based Initiative. It’s great to come to you by way of the [Rick Warren's] Ministry ToolBox and greet you on behalf of President Bush. I met Rick Warren in the Oval Office when he was meeting with the President....
"...the President decided the best way to tackle some of these social problems was to developpartnerships between the federal government and the faith-based community. ...I think the Faith-Based Initiative captures what has been the essence of American democracy.... It recognizes that within our pluralism, we can tap into the rich communities of Jews, Christians, Muslims - and people of no faith – all coming together to address society’s ills." See Faith-Based Compromise? & Serving a Greater Whole
Christmas CD banned for mentioning Jesus (UK): "Many see the measure as the latest attempt to 'de-Christianize' Christmas.... Just last month, the Scottish Parliament banned traditional Christmas cicials said 'Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year' could not appear on government cards, as the wording was not deemed to be 'socially inclusive.'" The international goal for every community is Solidarity, which is incompatible with Christianity.
Dick and Jane don't teach bias: "It began as a reasonable and justified attempt to rid educational materials of words and images demeaning to women and racial and ethnic minorities, but the level of censorship has gone much too far.... Bias and sensitivity panels review every test question and textbook to make sure that nothing potentially offensive goes through." A New Way of Thinking
Ten Paradigm Shifts Towards Community Transformation (Part I): "All over our nation there is a quiet movement of the Spirit of God that is causing believers to re-examine how they 'do church.' ... It’s about making a significant and sustainable difference in the lives of people around us—in our communities and in our cities....
"In a post-modern world, most people are neither impressed with the size of a church nor its commitment to 'truth.' Yet, from the cover of TIME magazine to the front page of the Wall Street Journal, transformational community-centered ministries are grabbing the attention of the American people. ... Effective ministry has always been holistic, combining good deeds with good news."
But the deeds that are "good" to God will probably not be the ones done in "partnership" with a government that demands that we repackage the gospel in less offensive wrappings. See the "community" sections of
Homeland Security and the transformation of America
Mrs. Ridge promotes survey on sex, drugs: "A Fairfax County schools survey that asks teens if they perform oral sex, use drugs or ever have considered suicide is part of a national grant-harvesting program promoted by Michele Ridge, wife of President Bush's director of homeland security.
"Mrs. Ridge is the hired national spokeswoman for Communities That Care (CTC), which developed the youth survey used in more than 400 communities nationwide to collect personal information from students to help local governments justify federal and foundation grant applications...."
Youth at Risk? The National Survey: "The report focused on the findings of a CTC [Communities that Care] survey conducted with over 14,000 pupils across England, Scotland and Wales which assessed the levels of problem behaviour and risk and protection factors....
"...over half of pupils in Year 11 admitted to 'binge' drinking sometime in the four weeks before the survey. Other findings which were a little surprising in terms of the apparent scope of problem behaviour include about one-third of Year 10 pupils admitting to vandalising someone else's property at some point in the last year." All these signs of "unhealthy communities" justify more government control through consensus groups.
Communities That Care
."Years of research by social scientists and public health experts have demonstrated how to most effectively coordinate prevention efforts. CTC's strategy for involving key leaders to ensure top-down support as well as its use of accurate data in identifying and addressing priority risk and protective factors."
Bush urges help for needy: "President George W. Bush used his Saturday radio address this Thanksgiving weekend to implore Americans to show compassion for other Americans by volunteering in different ways to help people less fortunate. 'Taking time to count our own blessings reminds us that many people struggle every day -- men, women, and children facing hunger, homelessness, illness, addiction, or despair. These are not strangers. They are fellow Americans needing comfort, love, and compassion." This sounds so good, but consider these warnings:
Serving a Greater Whole and
The Lord giveth, Costco taketh away? "...can a city grab church land to erect a Costco? Cypress, Calif., apparently thought so. Quite shamelessly this spring, city officials announced plans to condemn the Cottonwood Christian Center's land because they preferred the taxes Costco would generate to the souls the Cottonwood might save.
"Last week, in an unprecedented victory for religious liberty and private property, a federal judge stepped in and said to the overweening Cypress city council: Not so fast....
"Councilmember Anna Piercy... told the News-Enterprise in a May 15 story, 'They're waging a holy war trying to make it a religious issue, and it's not that.' You are telling a church it cannot worship on its own land and that is not a religious issue? 'We just don't want them taking our prime development land,' she explained. Whose prime development land, Ms. Piercy?"
National Security Becomes National Snoopery: "Using the Sept. 11 attacks and the threat of terrorism as justification, the federal government is invading the privacy of Americans on a massive scale, probing their use of telecommunications to uncover intimate information about U.S. citizens proven guilty of nothing..... 'Consumers should know that the information they give to America Online or Microsoft may very well wind up at the IRS or the FBI.'...
"'What happens to that information four or five years from now?' he asked. 'The FBI doesn't throw anything away.'...
"Despite the massive threat to the privacy rights of Americans, there has been little public outcry against the expanded government snooping, possibly because 'there is something that people just haven't grasped, though government investigators have,' Gidari said. 'A network economy yields so much more information about personal lives that can be collected and manipulated in ways most people don't understand.'...
"'We endow government with tremendous power - power to arrest you, take away your property, take away your life, destroy your reputation, take your children away from you,' Dempsey said. 'I think those powers in the hands of human beings, acting under pressure, with the best of intentions, facing time deadlines in a world of limited resources, those kinds of powers need to be surrounded with a thicket of rules.' ...
"The aphorism 'If you build it, they will come' is apt, warned attorney Gidari. 'And `they' are the law enforcement authorities.'" See A National Information System & No Place to Hide?
The links below illustrate how church growth communities -- as well as national and global governments -- are using data gathering programs, personal profiles, tracking and "Service learning" to manage and monitor people -- often under the banner of assessing the 'growth' or 'health' of the church." See Reinventing the World. God calls His people to serve the poor in His name, with freedom to share His truth in love. That freedom is restricted -- and the web of data gathering enlarged -- when the government becomes a partner. See Faith-Based Compromiseand Charts: Paradigm Shift
Community. Celebrate Global Youth Service Day April 26-28: "The goals of GYSD are to:  Highlight the ways that young people improve their communities through service 365 days a year  Recruit the next generation of volunteers and  Promote the benefits of youth service around the world." See Serving a Greater Whole and The New "Participatory" Community.
National Youth Service day: "National Youth Service Day (NYSD) is the largest service event in the world, engaging millions of young Americans and focusing national attention on the amazing leadership of young people. National Youth Service Day is also an opportunity to recruit the next generation of volunteers while promoting the benefits of youth service to the American public. Please take a moment to fill out the questionnaire below...." Question # was: "Did any projects incorporate a service-learning approach?" We are called to love, serve and teach in the freedom of Christ, not within the constraints and demands of the government. John 13:34
Faith-based use of government funds grows: "The number of faith-based groups using government funds to provide social services has grown in the past two years... More 'very, very small contracts' are being made with local ministries and a 'significant minority' of contracts are made directly with a church, not its nonprofit affiliate. The 1996 charitable-choice law allowed such direct contracts, though a church must also set up an accounting and reporting system for how the money was used... At the forum, Jim Towey, director of the White House office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, said collecting data on religious social services is a delicate matter for the government, since such inquiries can scare religious workers. "It's a Catch-22," said Mr. Towey, who took over the office early this year. "How do you get the data of what's going on in the country? We're trying to maneuver through that." See Faith-Based Compromise.
'First Things First' brings proven programs to our community: "1. To use credible research to identify significant problems facing Chattanooga, emphasizing families and youth. 2.To identify solutions that are based on traditional values and principles; to measure the effectiveness of these solutions based on credible, empirical data; to evaluate the impact of these potential solutions. 3.To build broad public support for values-based solutions through advocacy, communication and collaboration rather than providing direct client services. 4.To empower and equip local leaders and professionals who work with families and who are also promoting values-based solutions, and to provide support that advances their effectiveness." See Redefining Church (Check the links under the heading: "Information Networks")
Need some ideas for Servant Evangelism? "Here’s a huge list of projects. Pick one you like, and then drop John an e-mail. He needs to know which project you’ve chosen, the name of your church, the name of the coordinator...."
"The Faith-Based Caucus for an International Criminal Court is a coalition of religious and interfaith NGOs that examine the moral, ethical and religious considerations surrounding the Court. Religious organizations have a special role to play in raising awareness at the grassroots level and helping to shape the ICC. ...Participating Organizations:" World Council of Churches, United Methodist Church, World Conference on Religion and Peace, Quaker UN Office, Unitarian Universalists UN Office, Lutheran Office for World Community, Presbyterian UN Office, Mennonite Central Committee, Franciscans International, Bahai International, B'nai B'rith International. See Conforming the Church to the New Millennium
Bush's Faith-Based Initiative Not Just 'Lip Service': "Christian leaders say the president genuinely wants level playing field for charities....The evangelicals were among approximately 150 religious leaders, including Protestants, Catholics, Jews and Muslims, who met in the White House's East Room for a 30-minute briefing by Bush, a Methodist layman, concerning his 'faith-based initiative.' Bush has urged the Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate to approve his plan before Memorial Day, May 27 .... 'We shouldn't fear faith, we ought to welcome it in our society,'" said the president. See Faith-Based Compromise