February 19, 2013Culture

Morning Roundup 02/19/13: DuBois Leaves White House; Helping or Hurting Your Mission; Pastoral Letters on Newtown Tragedy; Interview w/ Lecrae

Joshua DuBois has worked hard to be a bridge to evangelicals from a White House that had low support among evangelicals. He's done an admirable job and I am thankful for his service. When you work in the White House, what you do does not always get known widely-- but I, and many other evangelicals, know that Joshua worked hard to build bridges and help the White House understand all persons of faith, but also from his own evangelical tribe (Joshua comes from a Pentecostal background).

The Washington Post mentions an important issue. You may recall that President Obama "broke his promise" on issues of hiring-- allowing faith-based organizations to hire according to their beliefs while still being involved in the Faith Based Initiative. Joshua, what WaPo mentions in criticism, I say in thanksgiving-- thanks for reminding all that people who serve in the name of Jesus cannot leave Jesus outside the door.

Michael Wear is also in the story, and rightfully so. Michael worked in the campaign and helped build even more bridges.

Godspeed to both of you.

Obama Adviser Joshua DuBois to Leave Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships -- Washington Post

President Obama announced at the National Prayer Breakfast that Joshua DuBois, head of his Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships would be leaving the post.

DuBois was 26 when he was chosen by the president to serve as director. Obama has often mentioned the inspiration he finds in DuBois' daily Scripture e-mails, making the faith-based office director an informal spiritual adviser to the president.

A White House official said that DuBois is leaving the White House to author a book of devotionals for leaders based on the ones he sends the president. DuBois will be teaching at New York University and plans to launch a new organization with Michael Wear, who led faith outreach for the president's 2012 campaign. Wear, who has been working as an assistant to DuBois, also is leaving.

Over DuBois' tenure, the office been criticized for failing to address one of the core issues around government funded programs run by religious organizations--that of faith-based hiring and firing. A 2012 report left "critical questions unanswered" about how the government could work with religious groups within the limits established by the First Amendment. DuBois at the time called the findings "an important step" and said the recommendations would "strengthen the government's relationship with faith-based organizations in a manner that protects religious liberty and the separation of church and state."

In a recent post for On Faith, John J. DiIulio Jr., who served under President Bush as the first director of White House faith-based office, praised the office under DuBois' leadership and its progress on issues like child hunger, while acknowledging the inherent church-state tensions in the faith-based mission.

Charles Arn has been a friend for a while. I always enjoy his writing (and I tell him to write more on blogs). Here is a helpful article on deployment.

Are You Helping or Hurting Your Mission? -- Charles Arn

One of the keys to a church's missional success is how its members are deployed. There are two approaches--one facilitates the church's mission; the other often frustrates it. Few in the church ever clarify this choice, but every church makes it, and every church lives with the consequences of its choice.

The institutional approach to lay ministry begins with the needs of the institution. Every church needs Sunday school teachers, committee members, musicians, ushers. In the institutional approach, when a job opens up, the response is to search for a person who seems most suitable to fill it and/or is most likely to say yes. Success, in such churches, is when a member says, "Okay, I'll do it." Hopefully the person is qualified, gifted, and motivated for that ministry; but there are no guarantees. If it turns out there is a mismatch between member and task, the result is a job poorly done and a member mostly frustrated. "Plugging warm bodies into ministry slots in a congregation," says Pam Heaton, "tends to increase volunteer burnout, dissatisfaction, and departure."[i] With the institutional approach to lay ministry, church members exist to serve the needs of the institution.

The individual approach is far less widely practiced, but significantly more effective for missional success. Here the goal is not to fill a vacancy but to find or create a place where members can joyfully and productively participate in the mission. Rather than beginning with the needs of the institution, the individual approach begins with the strengths of the person. Church members are encouraged to try a position related to their interest and see how it fits. If it does, the member may choose to spend more time in that ministry and/or receive additional training. If the task is not comfortable, or the person does not feel a sense of calling, he or she is guided to explore other ministries that might be a better fit. If a match cannot be found, creating a new ministry is explored. In the individual approach to lay ministry the institution exists for the benefit of the people rather than the people for the benefit of the institution.

I wrote an article recently on the Lutheran Church-- Missouri Synod debacle over the Newtown prayer service. Be sure to read my article or others on the subject before you read this one. However, note how denominational conflict can handled. First, there was an apology. Then, there was a statement of forgiveness and unity.

I am so glad to see that and wish I saw it more often.

Pastoral Letters on the Newtown Tragedy -- Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod

By the grace of God, we have worked through a very challenging situation. It has been our deepest mutual concern in dealing with one another to be faithful to Christ, our respective vocations, and to each other as brothers. Our dealings have been marked throughout with patience, kindness, and love. We implore the church to do likewise.

We have mutually forgiven each other where we have fallen short. We are reconciled. We are at peace.

Rob Morris, Pastor, Christ the King, Newtown; Timothy Yeadon, District President, New England District; Matthew C. Harrison, President, The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod

Lecrae will be on The Exchange in a few weeks, so in preparation I give you a preview from PBS!

An Interview with Lecrae on PBS -- Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly

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