Moved Mountains

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

Monday, July 14, 2008

Problems with professionalism

Last year I posted a couple of times on some of the upside to professionalism (you can read posts 1 and 2 here and here) in some aspects of ministry. While there is clearly a need for a professional approach and for professional caring, just as important is the need for care at a community level.

One thing I seem to keep coming up against from one particular segment of the professional caring community is a reluctance to see any benefit in grass roots or community attempts to address resilience issues. Social work theory seems to push the line that the only people properly equipped to improve this world are professional social workers. There is a level of professional arrogance and academic snobbery that exists among social workers in my area that is difficult to address (it's entrenched) and, as I believe it influences policy in many government departments, is preventing communities and community groups from more efficiently addressing many of the problems in the world around them.

This week, through Alternate[Or] Community, we are starting to get the wheels turning on a couple of grass roots community initiatives. The first is the development of a low-cost accommodation program, in conjunction with a local real estate agent with a social conscience, and the second is to begin talking with some of the local pollies about the youth drug and alcohol situation in the town and possible ways of helping the local community build resilience in simple, yet effective ways.

So far, in my discussions with others about these two issues, the professionalism issue has raised its head a couple of times. The general feel is that volunteers and/or grass roots organisations can't make things like this happen. I have been told that these concerns are the realm of the Government and professional organisations and should be left to these to sort out.

Most of these comments have come from Christians.

It's easy to see, with attitudes such as these, how the church has ended up in the position of thinking building a bigger church building is the same things as serving the community - this was actually the gist of a report in the local newspaper 2 weeks ago. The local mega church is expanding its building and its representative was reported as saying how much the community would benefit from the bigger building!.

After today, we should have a plan of attack in place for our housing project and by the end of the week the ball should be rolling on the other issue. I am hopeful the housing project will be something that can be replicated by others in our area (I'm going to "challenge the churches") and also elsewhere, and I'll post further on the drug and alcohol side of things as they progress.

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