Thursday, June 03, 2010

screw the purpose statement

over the past couple of years i have researched foundation grants by looking up their purpose statements on their website and on sites like guidestar and then pulling the foundation's 990 records to determine the organizations and projects the foundations funded.

this afternoon, i finally had the opportunity to get my hands on the foundation center's* database, which is the fort knox of philanthropy, and a librarian gave me a short tutorial. instead of toying with the foundation's purpose statement, she encouraged me to pull the records of the foundation's awards in the past five years and then utilize foundation center's amazing distribution map to see where the dollars really went. unsurprisingly, i found that the actual giving patterns of many foundations deviates significantly from their stated giving patterns. 

although i hate to admit it, i see a similar pattern in many of our churches. we say that we are a missional people, but 90% of our dollars go to content deliverers and the context within which the content is delivered. we profess our longing for God, but we give short shrift to prayer in corporate and, i fear, in private. we proclaim the Kingdom while passionately buttressing the country we incorrectly believe was specially inspired by God.

from now on i'm going to define each foundation's purpose in strict accordance with their giving patterns. i think that many define our churches in the same way and we would do well to pay more attention to our actions than we do the pretty, stylized purpose statements we hang on our deep mustard and mocha creme walls.

* (unfortunately) foundation center did not compensate me for nor sponsor this post.

Monday, May 31, 2010

unexpected emergent provocateurs

last night kellie and i watched crazy heart which, somewhat sadly, reminded kellie of the life of bill mallonee. this morning i've been listening to tripp fuller's excellent podcast with uncle bill at homebrewed christianity and thinking about the unexpected provocateurs who prepared me for the emergent conversation.

here are a few of these provocateurs and truncated summaries of their influence. please share snippets of your list:

first, unsurprisingly, is bill mallonee. bill taught me, more effectively than any theologian short of st. paul, could, that sanctification is a struggle and all the scaffolds we scramble to build will never help us escape from the tomb. only the Spirit can do that.

second, philip yancey. in the Jesus i never knew and what's so amazing about grace philip showed me that God is big enough to handle my questions. he also introduced me to uncle henri and uncle freddy both of whom have shaped my faith and understanding of vocation in innumerable ways.

third, gary burlington. gary was a missions prof at soybean bible college. i never actually had a class with him, but in the few times we spoke i was inspired by his inquisitiveness and commitment to christian mission. in retrospect, gary was teaching me that deconstruction is not a threat, but an essential component of christian mission. due to unfortunate choices on all sides, gary left soybean some years ago. i need to catch up with him at some point.

fourth, rich mullins. sure, i was instructed and inspired by the music, but rich's musings left the deepest impression. according to some accounts, at one of his final concerts he stopped in mid-song to confess a sexual sin that he had to repent of before continuing. that simple act - even if it is shaded by mythology - has influenced my preaching at least as much as haddon's biblical preaching. he also taught me that being disregarded by your own tradition is not the end of the world and he helped fuel my love of st. frank.