The position of a church related organization is one that overlaps several segments of society. Primarily the organization is based in the public realm of civil society due to the fact that it is an organization that represents a large group of people and is part of several civil society (CS) based networks. But such an organization does also manage links to both the state (via financing and regulations) and to the business sector (via cooperation, objectives and financing).
In order to connect and harmonize the different priorities and approaches of the different segments of society, a church related organization can describe the organization as Community Based. This way of labeling incorporate Rights Based as well as Faith Based approaches. It does also include the important Result Based approach to management. Above all, the term “Community Based” points to possibility of mobilizing a group of people to take responsibility for a process of change.
The reason for maintaining such complex set up of agendas and approaches is due to the fact that the organization has to answer to diverse categories of stakeholders. The objectives of the different stakeholders are basically the same; focusing effectively on strengthening dignity of individuals and groups, but the terminology may differ.
On a concrete management level a church related organization pushes for Rights Based and Result Based objectives as a basic entry level. This concern overlaps the concern of the wider network of donors and CS-based partners. And often a church related organization is eager to present results that prove this alignment. In addition to this, the faith based partners, like churches and faith based local partners, are also committed to measuring results on the output level (justice, mercy and faithfulness) and on the outcome level (love, hope and faith). Therefore church related organizations have to report results in accordance with this too.
Even though a church related organization sometimes label itself as a faith based organization it is not a church; neither in objectives and approaches, nor in methods. Therefore, out of respect for the mission of churches such an organization restricts itself and do not get engaged in establishing churches or forwarding religious faith. However, the values steaming from the faith based orientation are essential, since they stimulate considerations of strategy and quality. In essence these aspects are about going the “extra mile”, i.e. the quality that goes beyond the basic approach to securing equal “rights” and efficient “results”.
A church related organization is not colorless when it comes to identity. Rather, it is clearly soaked in traditions of its faith movement. But this does not mean that it is disrespectful to agreements with secular actors in the wider civil society, the business sector or to government bodies. On the contrary it is frequently and actively seeking cooperation with other civil society based organizations, authorities and business actors; based on strategic thinking around how to eradicate poverty. In order to establish sustainable development and change, all actors of good will need to find ways to cooperate and harmonize their endeavors.
In the wake of the ongoing debate on Faith and Development, it is important to try to sort out the levels of objectives of the different agendas and connect (harmonize) them. This work on harmonization cover issues like role, reach, scope, tools and methods etc. The word that might seem most challenging to deal with is “faith”. For a church related organization this is a holistic term covering an orientation towards the “here and now” and primarily depicting trust in ability of oneself and others to work together for a dignifying society. The religious dimensions of the word are in the hands of the Church.
The text in Mt 23:23 relate to the leadership style of the Pharisees; while the text from 1 Cor. 13:13 focus on the daily life of each human being. When we think of the framework for “faith based” we need to consider both aspects of the concept. Faith based is about lifting burdens (Mt 24:4); therefore faith based is also about rights holders and duty bearers. The power holders are obliged to ease the burden on the heavy-laden. But “faith based” is also about the good and sustainable social life.
A church or an FBO that likes to get engaged in social and human development needs to consider both axis of the matrix; to be concerned about both the delivery and the result. The matrix can be used as a tool to assess that faith based outputs leads to desired faith based outcomes.
The vertical output axis focuses on ways of administration. Jesus highlighted the consequences for the Pharisees as leaders and managers in their daily application of the law. The managerial essence of the law is about justice, faithfulness and mercy – not diversified but maintained simultaneously.
The horizontal outcome axis focuses on daily living, and points toward a coherent (systemic order and links of issues) and cohesive (social dynamic relations) life. Life needs to be both ordered and dynamic, providing a form for movements, an approach that build bridges over dips and valleys, and a functionality that gives meaning and adds value to all circumstances.
The point where the axis merges highlights how the output links to outcome. I.e. the merge of “Justice” and “Faith” can be linked via coherent principle. In the case of the Pharisees, instead of lining up coherent principles they disintegrated and detached the issues (the whole text in Mt 23:1-39 is about this catastrophic mistake).
Identity is important; both to view oneself in a context and to communicate that identity to others in particular contexts. The tricky thing with an identity is that it shifts, and does so according to what relations that is at stake. Depending on the relation an individual can be a human being, a man/woman, a parent, a child, a boss etc. The same dynamic shifting can be observed also when it comes to organizations. Organizations shift within their scope and life cycle.
Setting the stage (of the issue)
In the development industry organizations can take on a lot of identities depending on their relations and settings. They can be businesses, NGOs (non-governmental), CSOs (civil society organizations), FBOs (faith based organization) etc. All these labels communicate both internally and externally an important message about where they are set: in the state, in the market (corporate world), or in the civil society. Any organization can stretch into several contexts and is seldom at home in just one context, therefore rarely having just one relation and just one identity.
In the case of a church; it is at the same time both in Christ and in the world. Therefore the church has more than one relation and also more than one identity. In Christ the church with its believers is a body, and in the world it is a light revealing opportunities and pointing to alternative routes. Depending on what kind of institutional relations a church maintains its role and identity can expand into additional identities.
The issue, in connection to development agendas and networks, is how can a church understand itself and define its role and identity. The ThinkTank believes that language and concepts are important, but much more important is the quality. Jesus talked about the importance of respecting Moses and the Law, but Jesus adds something that is more than the Law. In the same way it is important to respect and press for a Human Rights Based Approach, but the Faith Based Approach goes beyond that.
For an FBO, being the extension of the body of Christ and stretching into “secular” society, the added concern of faithfulness and mercy is more than just effectiveness of a rights based CSO. Securing justice for marginalized is as important for a faith-based approach as it is for right-based approach. The faith based (or Christ based) approach can stretch further even when it comes to digging into the root causes and not stop at structural power analysis. It can uncover even “sins” and minister resolution and forgiveness. Also, not to be forgotten, the faith-based approach provides space for the workings of the Holy Spirit. This means that, as Christians, we cannot talk only about “faith-based”, we need to talk about “faith-driven” as well.
Recommendation – Maintain a wide set of role descriptions and use identity definition wisely according to the situation and setting;
In the service and ministry we must create space for the deeds of God, and the working of the Holy Spirit. The right-based approach is just the beginning. To be based on and driven by faith is to also go that extra mile, to add that extra love and concern for people and the creation.
In development business the local conditions are very often viewed as insufficient. Therefore much effort is put on developing supply chains. So, resources and distribution become focal points for interventions. And project staff becomes tangled up in delivery (output) issues rather than enabling values. Perhaps a way to solve this imbalance is to focus on value chains rather than supply chains.
To understand the supply chain is important, but we need to move one step further. And the way to do that is to look at each step of the supply chain and see how and what value is generated at each step of the supply chain? By looking at the supply chain in this way we can easily turn it into a value chain. In this way we can get more actors involved, spread the value to others and in the end become more efficient and more effective.
MDG 8, development of a global partnership, is where the “rich” world is brought into the agenda. So far there is a great failure on the “rich” side. This inability has to be remembered when we are discussing the framework of the Post2015 agenda. Presently this discussion on the global partnership tries to find the most relevant approach for future:
The old MDG was perhaps more universal then diverse and context based. A traditional top-down perspective usually results in universal models, while a bottom-up approach automatically generates diverse and localized prioritization. For a hammer everything is a nail, but the real world is diverse; solid and fragile at the same time. Thank God, we are aware of the diversity and need to act with respect of each local context. Therefore time and leadership are the most important issues: enough time given change processes and context based leadership.
Most of all, we need more efficient mechanisms and frameworks for international cooperation. If we want to encourage local innovations we must stimulate development of a well functioning global trade framework. The responsibility of the North and the action in the South need mechanisms for their international cooperation. This urgent need for cooperation becomes evident when we think of environmental issues: mobilization for emission reduction, lifestyle issues, climate actions etc.
The responsibility of the North is great even when it comes to definition of concepts.
For example; what is poverty? For long time we have said that one dollar per day defines poverty (without really considering exchange rates or inflation). Now we have raised that to two dollar. Cynically speaking; if we had kept the one dollar level fewer people would have been poor… It is obvious that the levels of poverty is decided top-down by the North; and in particular by the World Bank. How much money do people need to live a decent life? Is the equivalent of five, ten, fifteen or twenty dollars enough; and how was this right given to the North to decide?
The only real chance we have to deal with the rights of people and their nations, is to give them the upper hand for their own situations and contexts. It is important to maintain universal agendas for policies like Human Rights, Result Based Management etc., but link goals to local context. Important features in a framework like this would be: monitoring the actual implementation and secure high quality, make sure that there is an accountability framework, and establishing of coherence among policies and agendas.