Moved Mountains

Banner - Mt Trio, Stirling Range National Park, Western Australia - (c) 2007

Monday, July 30, 2007

Professionalism in the Missional Church - Part 2

I think there are a couple of reasons for the contrast between the professional approach, I talked about in my last post, and the more organic approach taken in the local church context.

The first is purpose - the kids in the drug program come to us for very specific purpose. Our first contact is an assessment, which consists of a 30 minute interview in which a whole series of very personal questions is asked. We get straight to the point and, I guess, that some level of trust has to be assumed simply because of the nature of the program and my role in it as a professional youth worker.

The second is the role of the professional in the community - Where do people turn for help and advice in the modern world? To the paid professional.

When we need help we don't run to our priest or pastor or even to our next door neighbour. Rather we pay a stranger to pretend to care about us for an hour a week while the community remains oblivious to what is really going on in our private life.

I heard a radio story the other day which illustrates this point well. The reporter was interviewing a doctor on the topic of infant mortality and the effects on families who have lost babies. He mentioned that the effects were usually long term and involved years of counseling and professional support. But he made the point that the long-term reliance upon professionals required by modern families upon losing a child was something new - unheard of, in fact, until the last 30 years or so.

In the past, he said, infant mortality rates were much higher. In fact they were so high that it was commonplace for many families to lose at least one child. This meant that when a family faced this tragedy there were plenty of other empathetic and supportive community members who knew exactly what they were experiencing and who were able to help them get through. They didn't need the professionals because they had the community. But things are very different now.

So, how do we deal with this seeming disparity in the missional approach at the level of the local church? Of course it seems to work well within the specific bounds of a (missional) drug and alcohol program, but not so well in the general running of the missionally focused church. How can we transfer some of the purpose found in the professional program into a less structured, more passive approach to life-ministry? Or do we even need to transfer it? Is the longer path to relational connectedness going to generate greater benefits over the longer term?


upstream said...

These are great questions mate!

I agree that being identified as the professional does seem to allow for a faster paced relationship and perhaps a 'cut to the chase' approach.

I am about to write something on this myself about how our 'power' relationship with the other person affects the process.

I actually don't think there is a right/wrong or better/worse approach. Each has its strenghts. Maybe its just as simple as being yourself in every setting?...

It is a residual Christendom that gives the religious professional cred. i think we do need to learn how to function beyond this.

The Creature said...

Thanks Hamo.

I look forward to reading your post.