Years ago when I was looking into a topic for my dissertation, I wanted to study, utilizing grounded theory, HOLISTIC CHURCH-INITIATED COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT, in the Philippines.
In the end, I dropped it. I switched to studying Christian medical missions events here in the Philippines. The main reason for this was that I had trouble finding many examples of holistic church-initiated community development. Generally one of three things exist:
- The ministry is not holistic. Ministries from churches tend to be spiritualistic or tend to be social, but rarely do a good job of bringing these things together to deal with the whole person.
- If the ministry is holistic, it is not normally church-initiated. It tends to be a ministry initiated by NGOs, or cooperatives, local government, or international agencies. Often,
- If the ministry is holistic, and church-initiated, it is not community development. It is often church-development. That is, the focus is on developing or growing the church, not primarily helping people or the community.
I prefer holistic ministries, but some ministries are always going to be more limited. And there is nothing wrong with some programs being initiated by groups other than churches. But the last one is more my concern. Many churches struggle conceptually with the idea that they should place greater focus on people rather than the success of their church.
And this is a general problem that often comes up with people and organizations all over the world, and I will repeat it here:
ONE SHOULD NEVER PLACE AN INSTITUTION ABOVE PEOPLE.
One should not put the church above people inside, or outside, the church
One should not put one’s government above people
One should not put the institution of marriage above the individuals in the marriage
One should not place the Sabbath above those in need
Anyway, our counseling center is utilizing “ihug” with Celebrate Recovery for dealing with those struggling with illegal drugs. I like the fact that it seeks to be holistic (S.O.S. — Social, Occupational, Spiritual). They prefer for it to be church-initiated (although not required). And the goal is for it to be missional… benefiting those in need with no requirement, explicit or tacit, that the local church will gain directly from the ministry.
Not a bad idea.