23 September 2010

Dependency... Question #4

I have a theory that if the US economy was still booming like it was 2003 that "When Helping Hurts" would not be as popular as it is today in churches... no knock on the book... just a theory...

TODAY'S QUESTION

How has the recession affected the conversation on Dependency?

10 comments:

spencer maccuish said...

Can i ask a question (a means of introducing a potentially dangerous thought without the same level of responsibility)?

Are you suggesting that the current economic state actually could be contributing or stimulating the conversation on dependency?

#2. are you suggesting that the west no longer has means to placate their consciences by financial means so now they have to justify why they are no longer making financial contributions?

Jeff said...

I am suggesting... but I have not regularly attended a US church since the economic bubble bust...

Can someone from a US church verify if my suspicions are true or false?

If things have changed...
1) How have they changed?
2) And in your contexts is the change having a positive or negative impact?

Darren said...

Assuming that you are saying that churches in the west are saying: "Now that we don't have as much money to give, it is more convenient for us to declare that Africans are being too dependent on us - we shouldn't be giving them money anyways. And in this way we in the west still have the leverage even though we don't have the money, which is good because we in the west are smarter about Christian issues."

Well... I hope that churches are not subconsciously thinking about dependence simply because it is convenient.

For what its worth... I'm not sure how to explain this except that God is gracious... but at our church, despite having a heavy population of people struggling in the building industry, our missions giving and general fund giving has not gone down during this recession time. So we haven't really had recession discussions in our missions meetings.

Jeff said...

Hi Darren

I also do not hope that the first paragraph of your comment in quotes is not true. And I am not implying something so strong...

But I also hope that the recession does lead to positive conversations about dependency and causes individuals and churches to re-examine where funds should go.

Like I said, I haven't been regularly attending western church in almost 5 years... but on this side I have seen Christian organizations and churches making major budget cuts and down sizing staff.

For some of these organizations I believe it has be a positive process of organizations asking "What does God really want us to do with these funds?"

My questions remain:
1) Has the recession changed the way Americans think about dependency?
2) If it has, what are the positive and negative affects of this conversation?

spencer maccuish said...

I know that the financial conditions have certainly exposed that the issue of dependency has much deeper roots than just $$$$.

I think it has caused people to think through the allocation of financial resources, but I think it has also exposed that there is a sense of intellectual (theological dependency). That is just as much of an issue as the financial dependence.

Scott Mehl said...

Jeff...regarding your comment that: "on this side I have seen Christian organizations and churches making major budget cuts and down sizing staff." A couple of thoughts:

1. Just as you said earlier that there are lots of schools in Uganda, but not many that you would consider "legit"...similarly, there are lots of organizations in Uganda and lots of churches in the West that support those organizations that we would also hesitate to give a seal of approval to. It seems like it would be more helpful to talk about actual partners, about the impacts of the recession instead of trying to draw conclusions from general tendencies among "Christian" organizations and "Western" churches...which are incredibly diverse, as you know.

2. In my experience (at our church and among others I know), I would not connect the interest in dependency with the recession, but instead with a growing theological knowledge coupled with the growing ability to understand other cultures and think from another's point of view.

3. Those that are interested enough in helping others to think through the issues of dependency are not often times the same people who make up justifications so they can hang onto more of their money (at least not in the church in my experience).

4. Does all of our sin affect how/why we view dependency? Absolutely. But, that seems like more of an individual question than a cultural one.

Jeff said...

I love that you guys are sharing stories from your churches and current context...

So I'll jump in... I have had this conversation on "dependency" more in the last year than our first 4 years...

Before I never heard it from national churches and pastors and now I do...

Before it never hit the discussion table and now it's on the agenda...

I love being part of the conversation... "How can we ensure that this School (GBI) lasts beyond our lifetime?" And "how can we equip these leaders to do what God has called them to with whatever God has given them?" And "should Jeff (or other mizungu) even be here and if he (they) is what should he (they) do?"

To me... that is the positive side of the recession that I have seen in Uganda...

spencer maccuish said...

Jeff...how do you view yourself in this discussion? Are you one who is a "victim/beneficiary" Dependence. Or is your role entirely different?

Or are you off limits?

Jeff said...

Nothings off limits... so far anyways:)

I'm not sure if I understand your question... but I'll try to answer anyways...

I wouldn't call myself a "victim" because I believe that dependency keeps people from doing what they can and are called to do... I don't feel trapped

I wouldn't call myself a beneficiary since I don't view myself as someone profiting off misguided generosity...

By now I could be off track from your question so please forgive me if I am...

I feel my role in Uganda is to inspire co-workers, students and friends to 1) see all that God has given them and to 2) do all that God has gifted them to do and most importantly to 3) be in love with Christ and not enslaved to any other master. For this term at GBI my main focus with the students is The Parable of the Talents and reminding them that the Master gave someone to each of the Servants.

My role in the US. To challenge people 1) to give generously 2) give wisely and 3) to give in love rather than with strings attached.

My role to myself - avoid last terms theme - Jeremiah 17:5-10 - Lying to myself (trusting too much in my own views and opinions) and believing that I can do anything apart from God

Did I totally miss the question?

Preston Sprinkle said...

I haven't seen a necessary causal relationship between the recession and the conversation on dependency, even if there has been less giving to missions in some (most) churches.

I would attribute the growing conversation on dependency to a few things.
1) As you said, there are many books being written recently that have fostered this discussion.

1.5) Even books like Claiborne's "Irresistible Revolution" isn't a book about dependency, but it gets there in a round about way. It elevates relationship over writing a check, meeting real needs, etc. All of this ends up getting at the same issue of dependency.

2) The same discussion is going on in Urban Ministry circles, which too has become more widespread in the States and even in some suburb churches.

3) Apart from Christian stuff, this has been a much broader economic question going on for some time along the same lines. Africa has been given loads of aid, yet it's still impoverished. Why? Books like "Africa in Chaos," "The White Man's Burden," and economists like Jeffrey Sachs and the millennium villiages, all seem to be barking up the same tree of dependency. (Please correct any of this, Jeff, I may be talking out of my...nose.) In short, I think the dependency question would be on the table even if the economy was thriving as it was in 2003.