Invisible Realities: Member Care at Lausanne 3?
The providence of God has led us all into a new world of opportunity, danger, and duty. World Missionary Conference, Edinburgh, 1910
What are some of the ways that the international field of member care is part of Lausanne 3? Have a look at the brief materials below and leave a comment. Thanks!
Member care is the Biblical practice--and discipline--of supporting the diversity of workers and senders in the global mission community. Currently there are an estimated 400,000 mission workers and nearly 12 million national workers (January 2010 International Bulletin of Missionary Research, Johnson et al). These figures of course do not include the millions of Christ-followers who live internationally as "tentmakers" or who relocate intentionally or unintentionally for economic, political, educational or human rights-related reasons.
Member care is a handmaiden to the mission task. It is a core part of mission strategy and includes a broad spectrum of services/resources such as cross-cultural training, coaching, health screening, team building, crisis care, marriage enrichment, consultation about member care programs and children’s issues, pastoral support, and debriefing.
Member care’s practical and at times prophetic voice rallies us all towards lovingly and skillfully caring for those who like Paul, earnestly seek to serve Christ, often in places and ways where He has not been named before. Member care has been a recognized, international, and interdisciplinary field for over 20 years. It’s emphasis on sacrificial lifestyles and supportive resources provide a Biblical and balanced approach to see our mission goals realized in this beautiful yet troubled world.
Wondering: And so we are wondering...how the international field of member care is present at Lausanne 3. We have not seen anything yet on the web site or topics. Yet we imagine that member care-related areas are being implicitly discussed in many different ways and we certainly hope that member care is also being explicitly discussed in many different ways.
Wondering: And we are also wondering...who the member care leaders are at Lausanne 3. We certainly wish we could be there to connect and contribute with the wonderful folks at this historic event.
So where is member care exactly in Lausanne III? We sincerely hope that it is there both implicitly and explicitly.
Here is something to encourage us all: We are doing an historical overview of Member Care during the last 40 years. A great many folks have laboured to see it become a key part of world mission. Read about it at this site, and enjoy the music/video links too:
CORE Member Care: Reflections and Resources for Good Practice
The video below reminds us of how member care has traveled far and wide to help encourage/sustain many Christian workers. Onward together as we go into our world of "opportunity, duty, and danger." International Member Care--A Dancing Analogy to Support Christian Workers http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlfKdbWwruY
Keywords: member care, attrition, missionary care, resiliency, human resource development, corruption, stress, counseling, pastoral care, staff support, encouragement, crisis care, integrity, organizational development, leadership, unreached people groups
Note: One of the most helpful articles related to Biblical foundations for member care and for member care advocacy is: Stephanas: A New Testament Example of Frontier Member Care. Check it out, free online via the link at the Member Caravan web site: http://sites.google.com/site/membercaravan/test/ijfm-1995-mc-issue-
Here also is the link to the special issue on member care in which the article first appeared, in the International Journal of Frontier Missions (1995). Still very relevant articles! http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=ZGVmYXVsdGRvbWFpbnxtZW1iZXJjYXJhdmFufGd4Ojc2NzFlNDY5ZjhlMTBiOWI
Managing Stress for Mission/Aid Workers:
Here is a stress assessment tool (13 items) from the International Federation of the Red Cross, Managing Stress in the Field (2001) http://www.ifrc.org/cgi/pdf_pubshealth.pl?stress.pdf (Based on: “The Relief Worker Burnout Questionnaire” in Coping with Disaster (1999) by John H. Ehrenreich)
Short Questionnaire on Stress—Instructions: Rate each of the following items in terms of how much the symptom was true of you the last month. 0 = Never 1 = Occasionally 2 = Somewhat often 3 = Frequently 4 = Almost always
__1. Do you tire easily? Do you feel fatigued a lot of the time, even when you have gotten enough sleep?
__2. Are people annoying you by their demands and stories about their daily activities? Do minor inconveniences make you irritable or impatient?
__3. Do you feel increasingly critical, cynical or disenchanted?
__4. Are you affected by sadness you can’t explain? Are you crying more than usual?
__5. Are you forgetting appointments, deadlines, personal possessions? Have you become absent-minded?
__6. Are you seeing close friends and family members less frequently? Do you find yourself wanting to be alone and avoiding even your close friends?
__7. Does doing even routine things seem like an effort?
__8. Are you suffering from physical complaints such as stomach aches, headaches, lingering colds, general aches and pains?
__9. Do you feel confused or disoriented when the activity of the day stops?
__10. Have you lost interest in activities that you previously were interested in or even enjoyed?
__11. Do you have little enthusiasm for your work? Do you feel negative, futile, or depressed about your work?
__12. Are you less efficient than you think you should be?
__13. Are you eating more (or less), smoking more cigarettes, using more alcohol or drugs to cope with your work?
Total Score: (Add up scores for items 1-13)
Interpretation: No formal norms are available for this measure. Based on the content of the items, a score of 0-15 suggests the delegate is probably coping adequately with the stress of his or her work. A score of 16-25 suggests the worker is suffering from work stress and would be wise to take preventive action. A score of 26-35 suggests possible burnout. A score above 35 indicates probable burn out.
Note: Also see the CHOPS Adjustment Inventory (in several languages) and other free assessment tools at:
Keywords: stress, stress management, assessment, member care, burnout, trauma, workers, Red Cross, CHOPS, adjustment, attrition, counseling, counselling
Healthy and Unhealthy Organizations in Global Mission
Virtue does not have to be so painful, if it is sensibly organized.
Charles Handy, Understanding Voluntary Organizations
How healthy is your church, mission, NGO, etc? Here are five brief quotes about organizational life to help explore this question. Remember: in mission as in life, we reproduce who we are. Leave a comment below!
These quotes are taken from a special training day on Organizations and Member Care at Fuller School of Psychology—The audio video and written materials are available for free via this link: http://sites.google.com/site/membercaravan/caravan-groups/training-day-19-06-10
Quote One: Health Checklist--Signs of Organizational Health, Kelly O'Donnell (2008) http://coremembercare.blogspot.com/2008/11/member-care-and-organisational-health.html
"What are some of the core characteristics that would make you want to be part of a team, department, or organization? Here are some items to consider. What else would you add? Everyone loves to work in settings like these, but remember, like healthy families, they take a lot of work to develop and maintain!
• Mutual respect among staff
• Fair pay/compensation and fair play especially in light of power differentials
• Opportunities to make contributions
• Opportunities for advancement and personal growth
• Sense of purpose and meaning
• Management with competence and integrity, including sharing • information
• Safeguards to protect individuals (staff and customers) from injustice
• Responsibility for actions: owning mistakes, not blaming others or covering up
• Honesty in communication and public disclosures: not slanting the truth or exaggerating
• Accountability for personal/work life: seeking out feedback and ways to improve, not ignoring or pretending
Quote Two: Organizational Culture--Stress and Trauma Handbook: Strategies for Flourishing in Demanding Environments, John Fawcett, (2003, World Vision)
“…the most stressful events in humanitarian work have to do with the organisational culture, management style and operational objectives of an NGO or agency rather than external security risks or poor environmental factors. Aid workers, basically, have a pretty shrewd idea what they are getting into when they enter this career, and dirty clothes, gunshots at night and lack of electricity do not surprise them. Intra-and inter-agency politics, inconsistent management styles, lack of team work and unclear or conflicting organizational objectives, however, combine to create a background of chronic stress and pressure that over time wears people down and can lead to burnout and even physical collapse.” (p. 6)
Quote Three: Seven Strengths for Faith-based Organizations--Governance Matters: Balancing Client and Staff Fulfillment in Faith-based, Not-for Profit Organizations, Stehle and Loughlin, (2003) (Note: Reframed positively from the authors’ list of “Seven Deadly Sins”)
• Competent leadership/management (structure, authority, decisions, evaluation etc.)
• Supportive leadership and management
• Clear strategic direction
• Clear roles and responsibilities
• Clear expectations
• Good fit for staff including ongoing training
• Forgiveness is not confused with accountability (pp. 31-34)
Quote Four: Organizational Politics--Understanding Voluntary Organizations, Charles Handy, (1988)
“Because power is a forbidden topic in organizations, and particularly in volunteer organizations, there is seldom any proper discussion of two key aspects of organizational life: the place of competition and/or conflict and the role or meaning of democracy in work. If they are talked about at all it is under the heading of organization politics, and in this context ‘politics’ is assumed to be bad. Such myopia is misguided. Organizations are communities, societies in their own right. They cannot avoid the questions [concerning power/control] which beset all societies.…To push these issues under the table is not to solve them; to brandish grandiloquent slogans –‘we are all one family’ or conflict has no place’—only outlaws discussion of the topic without adding to an understanding of it. If organizations [such as our mission and member care organizations] are going to be effective social institutions, they need to grapple with these issues, which are not going to disappear as long as human beings live and work together.” (pp. 75-76)
Quote Five: 12 Key Items Related to Staff Satisfaction, Longevity, Productivity--First Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently, Buckingham and Coffman, (1999) (See the book summary at http://www.bizsum.com/articles/art_first-break-all-the-rules.php)
1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best everyday?
4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?
5. Does my supervisor or someone at work seem to care about me as a person?
6 Is there someone at work who encourages my development?
7. At work, do my opinions seem to count?
8. Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel my job is important?
9. Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?
10. Do I have a best friend at work?
11. In the last six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?
12. This last year, have I had the opportunity at work to learn and grow?
Keywords: health, organizations, stress, ethos, organizational culture, leadership, integrity, governance, ethics, dysfunction, management, politics, staff, satisfaction, member care
Confronting Corruption in the Church-Mission Community
Yesterday they prayed for us. Today they preyed on us.
Excerpt from Unmasking Fraud: Hard Lessons at $350,000/Hour, Kelly O’Donnell © 2010
Major fraud and other forms of corruption are a fact of life. Just think of the bogus solicitations that you get regularly in your email inbox, sincerely asking for your sympathy, help, personal financial information, and ultimately your money. People get duped all the time. And even the financially savvy can become the prey of experienced fraudsters. No one is immune to being exposed to fraud’s far-reaching toxins, including people and organizations in the faith-based community.
For example an estimated 32 billion US dollars are stolen around the world through “ecclesiastical crime” according to the latest estimates published in the International Bulletin of Missionary Research (January 2010, p. 36). Think of it as being a collective “minimum wage” paying over $350,000 per hour to “thieves” (many who are respected) within church-mission settings. This outrageous figure is derived by dividing the $32 billion dollars by the amount of hours per year. Further, if a "40 hour work-week" is considered, rather than working 24/7, then the international-collective estimate increases to about $1.5 million US dollars per hour. Think of it as being universal “crimianity”: the devastating result of the widespread, egregious mingling of Christianity and criminality.
The humanitarian assistance sector apparently fares no better. Consider the sobering news from the July 2008 joint report from Transparency International et al on the widespread occurrence of corruption in humanitarian assistance. The report includes a succinct perspective to help us understand the reality of corruption. Corruption is primarily an ‘abuse of entrusted power for personal gain’ which can devastate people in many ways (erosion of trust in self and others; time, energy, and money seeking justice; disillusionment), rather than solely being a financial matter (p.2). Review the report--especially the two-page Executive Summary at: http://www.odi.org.uk/resources/download/1207.pdf
In summary: Coruption is not just a concept out there some where. Rather it is a tangile reality for many of us in our everyday lives that comes in many guises. So what do we do to prevent, confront, and erradicate corruption in the church-mission community? Personal examples and suggestions?
Keywords: corruption, fraud, deviance, dysfunction, Transparency International, ecclesiastical crime, member care
Porn as Mission and Porn in Mission:
We are as Healthy as our Secrets
Porn as Mission? You bet. In fact, there is a major multi-billion industry whose mission is to convert you into a regular, paying, porn-using consumer.
Porn in Mission? You bet too. It’s insidious, ensnaring tentacles pop up almost everywhere it seems--in our daily lives, media, our thoughts--and even if we do not seek it out.
There is a continuum of involvement in pornography (or any other addictive behavior such as food, substance use, work, control). At one end some people include porn as part of their daily “coping routines.” Towards the other end some may “lapse” into porn periodically, minimizing its potentially lethal and addictive impact. Where are you and your colleagues on this continuum of porn usage? How freely can you discuss this reality in your mission/church setting?
Mission/aid workers are certainly not immune! Pornography destroys the beauty of our human sexuality, replacing it with a haunting, incapacitating bondage. The humans that create and proliferate porn want your money—they could care less about you. Pornography exploits millions of people including those whom mission/aid workers are trying to assist.
Like any serious addiction, you cannot overcome porn by sheer will power, or by yourself, or simply by exhorting yourself to never do “it” again. Healing takes time and discipline, strict accountability and utter honesty, close friends and tight internet controls. It requires understanding emotional and environmental triggers, learning/relearning healthy behaviors and healthy human sexuality. Take action now to help yourself and also others.
Courage! Remember, we are as healthy as our secrets.
http://www.covenanteyes.com/ (accountability tools for internet use)
http://www.sexhelp.com/ (resources and includes a self-assessment tool)
http://www.arabicrecovery.com/ (many resources for recovery in Arabic)
http://www.sa.org/ (support for sexual addictions including locations for support groups)
http://www.christianrecovery.com/ (resources/links for healing from addictions, abuse, trauma)
http://www.xxxchurch.com/ (Christian resources for sexual purity including podcasts/interviews)
http://www.safefamilies.org/ (oriented towards child protection/families, plus free internet filtering)
http://www.settingcaptivesfree.com/ (addiction resources; free courses for education/accountability)
Keywords: pornography, sexuality, exploitation, purity, integrity, porn, money, courage, addictions, member care
The United Nations and the Global God
How does the work of the United Nations relate to the work of the Kingdom of God, and vice versa? Do they overlap? Do you have some practical examples to share? Consider these two brief quotes below as a launching point for discussion. Leave a comment!
"The United Nations is a 20th-century organization facing a 21st-century challenge as an institution with impressive achievements but also haunting failures, one that mirrors not just the world’s hopes but its inequalities and disagreements, and most important, one that has changed but needs to change further….The single greatest problem facing the United Nations is that there is no single greatest problem; rather there are a dozen different ones each day clamoring for attention. Some, like the crisis in Lebanon, the Palestinian situation and the nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea, are obvious and trying. Others we call “problems without passports”— issues that cross all frontiers uninvited, like climate change, drug trafficking, human rights, terrorism, epidemic diseases, and refugee movements. Their solutions, too, can recognize no frontiers because no one country or group of countries, however rich or powerful, can tackle them alone." Shashi Tharoor, The Good for Something United Nations, Newsweek, September 4, 2006
"The Christian mission requires that we meet basic human needs for education, food, water, medicine, justice, and peace. As is evident in the Apostle John’s assertion that Jesus was sent to “destroy the works of the devil” (I John 3: 8), our mission is to continue his earthly mission by undertaking the kind of organized research and enterprises that combat evil in all its forms—violence, injustice, poverty, environmental exploitation, drug trafficking, and disease…In this way, Christians extend God’s rule in the world, particularly in the transformation of society, render the Christian gospel believable, and make world evangelization possible. All of this is to the ultimate glory of our good and gracious Creator and Redeemer God." David Hesselgrave, describing the essence of Dr. Ralph Winter’s “kingdom mission.” Evangelical Missions Quarterly, (Volume 46, April 2010; p. 196).
Note: The above quotes were part of a presentation at Fuller School of Psychology in the United States in June 2010. The presentation focused on the role of organizational culture in mission/aid and its impact on staff well-being and operational objectives. Participants were encouraged to explore viable ways to practically link and connect with some of the most challenging global issues facing humanity. You can access for free the materials and audio/video at:
Keywords: Unted Nations, global God, global problems, Ralph Winter, problems without passports, misery, partnerships, future, member care
Additional Note 1: Another quote and a short video to consider.
Distant Humans? “What percentage of non-Christians personally know a Christian?…The [research] results are startling in the sense that Christians and non-Christians appear to be living in quite separate worlds. This distance has implications for Christian missions but is also problematic when it comes to dialogue, peace initiatives, environmental and health challenges, and many other areas of human interaction. Our hope is that highlighting the problem will help in planning solutions for the future.” Johnson, Barrett, Crossing, Christianity 2010: A View from the New Atlas of Global Christianity, International Bulletin of Missionary Research (Volume 34, January, 2010), p.29.
United Nations Year in Review 2009—Video and Written Summary
Additional Note 2: The UN is founded on a profound sense of duty to humanity, and strongly influenced by Judeo-Christian values--social responsibility, prevention of war, justice, social progress and liberty etc. I can see God at work through the humans in this human organization in so many ways, whether it is via the eradication of polio, peace-keeping efforts in Africa, or confronting human rights violations in member states.
We live and work by Geneva, a major UN and humanitarian center. The folks who are part of the humanitarian/UN sector are usually very dedicated although sometimes also very dissatisfied with the cumbersome bureaucracy involved in huge intergovernmental and organizational systems. We encourage folks in the mission world to stay in touch with what the UN is doing--in an area of mutual interest since the work of the UN is so vast.
One good place to connect in general is in the UN’s Millennium Development Goals. http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/
I like US President Dwight Eisenhower’s comment in 1961 about the UN. Paraphrased he says: ’In spite of its weaknesses, the UN still represents humanity’s best efforts to resolve issues at the conference table rather than on the battlefield."
A very helpful and readable book for understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the UN is The Parliament of Man: The Past Present and Future of the United Nations (2006).
So how does all of the above relate to the Church’s duty/desire to love people and to share the good news among all peoples? How do these goals overlap with those of the UN? And what are the thoughts of the thousands of Christians who work in the UN system?
Global Mental Health and Unreached People Groups
How do mental disorders affect those in Unreached People Groups--and other vulnerable groups?
“But the world is not so happy a place. Billions of people suffer impoverishment, many until the end of their miserable lives…[Such things] should not deter us from responding as best we can, using our talents to improve this always mixed record of trying “to save generations from the scourge of war,” “to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights,” and to promote “social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.” The question is, can we do it?” (pp. 279, 289) Paul Kennedy, The Parliament of Man: The Past, Present, and Future of the United Nations (2006).
Mental disorders are a vastly overlooked area in considering our responsibilities and opportunities as the church. Have a look at these statistics as well as the resources below from the World Health Organization.
Global Mental Health Statistics: “Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.” World Health Organization, October 2009 http://www.who.int/features/factfiles/mental_health/en/index.html
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental, neurological, and substance use disorders “are common in all regions of the world, affecting every community and age group across all income countries. While 14% of the global burden of disease is attributed to these disorders, most of the people affected—75% in many low-income countries—do not have access to the treatment they need.” (WHO, launch of the mhGAP program, http://www.who.int/mental_health/mhgap/en/index.html)
In addition, “people with these disorders are often subjected to social isolation, poor quality of life and increased mortality. These disorders are the cause of staggering economic and social costs.” (WHO Department of Mental Health, The Bare Facts http://www.who.int/mental_health/en/index.html)
World Health Organization, 2002:
• over 150 million have depression
• 25 million have schizophrenia
• 50 million have epilepsy
• over 100 million have drug or alcohol use disorders
• over 700 million suicides/year
See the 12 case studies in the WHO special report on how mental health has been integrated into primary health care systems in different countries (e.g., India, Iran, South Africa, Brazil). The report also outlines skills needed to help people with mental disorders.
Short Video Example: Got five minutes? Be sure to have a look at this inspiring short video clip from the Banyan Tree in Chennai, India. It is a practical example of helping those with mental conditions and help them reintegrate meaningfully into their communities. It will put human faces on the statistics below. "The Banyan works for the cause of homeless persons with mental illness. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THdLdJDc6go
Keywords: at-risk, mental health, depression, psychoses, suicide, disorders, substance abuse, neurological disorders, unreached people groups, vulnerable, counseling, psychology, psychiatry, community development, member care
Note: Here is an email letter we just received from the WHO with some key resources on global mental health issues, including a short video to add human faces to the stats. We wonder: how is/can this area included in our missional thinking and priorities?
I am pleased to share with you the WHO Report on Mental Health and Development: Targeting People with Mental Health Conditions as a Vulnerable Group as well as other key resources. The WHO report demonstrates that people with mental health conditions are vulnerable – not because of any inherent weakness, but as a result of the way they are treated by society. It illustrates how people are not only missed by development programmes, but can be actively excluded from these programmes, this despite the fact that an explicit goal of development is to reach the most vulnerable. It also presents a number of evidence-based strategies which are known to improve development outcomes for persons with mental health conditions and all vulnerable groups.
The WHO report is a call to action to all development stakeholders – multilateral agencies, bilateral agencies, global partnerships, private foundations, academic and research institutions, governments and civil society – to focus their attention on mental health. By investing in people with mental health conditions, development outcomes can be improved.
To access the report and following key resources, please visit
1. The WHO Report on Mental Health and Development
2. The video for the launch of the WHO Report
3. The video for the panel discussion on mental health and development
4. Other useful resource materials including the press release and policy briefs on mental health and development
Dr Michelle Funk;
Coordinator, Mental Health Policy and Service Development (MHP)
Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse
World Health Organization
Visit the WHO MIND website: http://www.who.int/mental_health/policy/en/