9 Reasons that Churches shouldn’t apply for lottery funding

I am continuing to think out loud about churches applying for lottery funding for social action projects. You can see 9 reasons why church’s should receive money from the lottery here.  The views expressed here are not necessarily my own, I am just trying to build the strongest case I can. What do you think friends?

1. Lottery funds are essentially dirty money

The money that comes from the lottery is gained through an immoral source and is therefore contaminated . The ends to which the money is put towards do not justify the means by which the money was gained. A lot of the arguments that are presented below are related to this basic premise.

2. Receiving lottery funding gives implicit consent to gambling

The lottery is a form of gambling that could act as a gateway to other more addictive forms of gambling. Scratch cards are seen to be particularly unhelpful as you are actively encouraged to “chase your losses” by buying  more cards. At its best the church is working with those most vulnerable to gambling addictions and so to be receiving money from the proceeds of gambling is hypocritical.

3. Receiving lottery funding validates the false hope that gambling provides

The lottery has long been described as an implicit tax on the poor because it offers a false hope of escaping poverty through an astronomically unlikely event occurring.  The lottery is a destructive force in society that does not help the poor but actually makes their lives worse because of the money wasted on playing and the false dreams it promotes ( see the EA ACUTE report from 1996).

4. Receiving lottery could restrict or redirect the activities of a church

As the saying go “He who pays the piper calls the tunes.” So churches that chase lottery funding may well reshape their community work so that it meets the lottery funding parameters – this will be towards social amelioration work rather than evangelism.

5. Receiving lottery funding model bad stewardship

Rather than wasting money on the lottery people should either give money directly to good causes. The support of good causes is merely a conscience easing aspect of the work .

 “In the year ending 31 March 2013, 28% of total National Lottery revenue was returned to the Good Causes”

The lottery both discourages people from giving selflessly it also encourages gambling instead of saving as a way out of poverty.

6. God’s people should pay for God’s work

Rather than rely on pay outs from external sources, the church should pay for its own ministry. Even in its work amongst the poor there is more profound public witness if the church is seen to be doing it with its own funds rather than relying on lottery funds.

7 Unequally yoked

Receiving money from the lottery unhelpfully ties the church to a secular agency that would then have a degree of control  over the church’s ministry. The church should be free to do what God has called it to and not reliant on

8. The lord owns the cattle on a thousand hills

God is rich enough to be able to supply the needs of his people to do the work that he has called them to do. To go cap in hand to the lottery is admission that we don’t believe God is able to provide.

9. Receiving lottery funding  demotivates Christian giving

Christians should be giving sacrificially to the Lord’s work and receiving large grants from an external source may demotivate church members from giving to God’s work

6 verbs of leaders on twitter

Looking forward to a seminar this afternoon with students at Regents Park College at Oxford University. One of the topics we are going to look at is whether twitter is worth the hassle. Here are my six reasons why it can be a useful tool for leaders.

1.  Incarnating – expressing gospel in another subculture

Living out the gospel in every sphere of life is our calling as disciples of Christ, Twitter is a great space to do that in.

2. Listening    –  allowing new streams of ideas and information into your imagination

Allow the zeitgeist of new ideas and thought streams to impact you by tuning into different people to follow on twitter.

3. Incepting   – injecting ideas into church and culture

There’s not that many new ideas on Twitter – lots of things are just recycled content from other sources. Add your ideas into the mix.

4. Clarifying  – developing the skill of conciseness

Having to reduce your thoughts to 140 characters can be a very good discipline to develop. Perhaps Twitter is the 21st century haiku.

5. Collaborating – cross platform networking

Twitter can be a great place to put together needs, skills and opportunities. I have found an amazing film maker through a connection made through Twitter alone.

6. Disseminating – news and information spreads quickly through social networks 

Lets say you want to tell everyone there’s been a flood in your building – twitter is a very agile way to get the message out.

What have  I missed friends?

9 reasons why churches should apply for lottery funding

So here’s a moral dilemma that I’d like to explore with you. I am trying to explore a theological perspective on whether it is right for a church to apply for and receive lottery funding for its social and community work (it cannot receive funding for worship or evangelistic work). Here are the best arguments I can think of for how a Christian might justify  applying for lottery funding. The counter arguments are here.  The arguments are not necessarily ones I hold to – I am simply trying to build a strong case so that I have fully explored both sides of this debate.

1. The Greater Good Argument

The good that can be done with the lottery money, outweighs the means by which it has been raised.

2. The Gold from Egypt Argument

The gold that the Israelites took from their pagan Egyptian captors when they left was used to build the ark of the covenant and the Tabernacle furniture . So we have a precedent of riches from non-Christian sources can be repurposed for God’s ends.

3. The Cunning as Snakes Argument

Surely taking money to do God’s good work is an example of Jesus injunction to his church to be cunning and wily in their relationship with the world system?

4. The “No Clean Money” Argument

All money is in some ways tainted. All money in circulation has been used for some dodgy purpose somewhere along the lines. So Christians should be realistic about the financial institutions we live with.

5. Meat Offered to Idols Argument

Just as Paul was not worried about the fact that Christians bought meat that was offered to idols (unless it damaged the the conscience of other Christians). Thus the idea that money would go to fund the temple work did not seem to be a problem for Paul.

6. The Redemption Argument

Just as we were sinful and tainted with corruption and God redeemed us so God can repurpose money that had disreputable origins. This argument could also draw on the Nard that was used by a prostitute to anoint Jesus was most likely either a part of her trade or bought with the earnings of her trade. Jesus saw the pure intention that she had for its use in her worship of him and so accepted it.

7. The “It’s Better that Christians use it” argument

If Christians don’t use the lottery funding someone else will, so why would you deliberately hamstring Christian charities from drawing on common resources?

8. All Investment is Gambling Argument

Some ask if there is an intrinsic difference between money generated from gambling on the lottery and money generated from ‘gambling’ on the stop market?

9. Gambling is not intrinsically evil

Games of chance are not necessarily intrinsically evil – Proverbs seems to imply that the game of dice is still under the sovereignty of God.

We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall.
Proverbs 16:33

 “It would only be right not to take the money for good causes if one felt it was morally tainted; like money for instance, got by fraud. My doubts about the wisdom of the lottery do not amount to that”

Dr John Polkinghorne  who is on the Church of England’s board for social responsibility.

So which do you think are the strongest arguments, which ones are missing?

 

Pray for Ukraine

Please, pray for peace, freedom, and unity in Ukraine, we need God’s help more than ever. This is definitely the most serious crisis we’ve experienced since the fall of Soviet Union and the most violent one since WW2. Ukraine has always been a very peaceful country, even during events like Orange Revolution, but this time with everything that government does people are ready to fight against corruption and for their freedom.

 

Ruslain Maliuta – Director “Ukrain without Oprhans”

TEDX OXFORD BLOG

Here’s my attempt to capture the big ideas from today’s TEDx Oxford event. You can read the bios of the speakers here.

Susan Greenfield

Greenfield argues that human personality is due to our brains ability to  react differently to our environment. So our environment is the key to our personality.  Crain circuitry is all about making connections these connections can grow deeper over time.

Greenfield gave the example of a child encountering a gold ring – it is first understood as an object, a gold colour circle shape but as the child grows up it begins to understand the symbolic meaning of the ring as wedding band.  The symbolic meaning is only properly understood in a social environment.

Our brains are changing in unprecedented ways due to the impact of  new media. This is evidenced by events such as Davos 2013 devoting  time to talk about  the global impact of “Digital wild fires.”

 

(more…)

5 reasons why the discipleship deficit matters

Discipleship is an in vogue topic of conversation in a lot of the books and blogs I read.

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photo from kennymatic via flckr

“The church in the West has largely forgotten the art of disciple making and has largely reduced it to an intellectual assimilation of theological ideas. As a result, we have a rather anaemic cultural Christianity highly susceptible to the lures of consumerism. This in turn works directly against a true following of Jesus. In our desire to be seeker-friendly and attractional, we have largely abandoned the vigorous kind of discipleship that characterized early Christianity and every significant Jesus movement since.”

Alan Hirsch, Forgotten Ways Handbook

5 reasons I personally am interested in discipleship

1. The Glory of God

God deserves to be worshipped by whole hearted disciples. Halfhearted immature disciples are an insult to the honour of God. I want to honour God as a disciple and to honour him by playing my role in helping to disciple others.

2. The Missing Generation

We have a problem in that only 3/100 believers in church UK is in their 20s. This is a generation gap that has serious implications not just for 20 somethings but for the rising generation of young people and for the evangelisation and reformation of the culture we are living in. Something must have gone wrong in our discipleship if 20s are not resilient enough to be connecting with church communities.

3. Children and Young People

We must be doing something wrong in our work as churches with  children and young people if we are failing to adequately disciple children so that their faith survives (let alone thrives) their 20s. As a Father I want to learn how to be more effective in working alongside my wife to play our role as disciplers of our kids and what that means for our wider church community.

4. The re-evangelisation of our nation

If we are going to see the every woman, man and child have the opportunity to hear and understand the good news of King Jesus we need to make sure that we have helped the church walk in Christ’s footsteps and be confident of the transforming power of the gospel. The fact that the church is at best flat lining in its numbers is a sign that we have not adequately discipled the church to live out and speak out the gospel.

5. The demonstration of the kingdom

I believe that we are called to live out the values and message of the gospel in front of a watching world. This should mean that we act as salt and light and transform the world that we are living in from decay to health and darkness to light. As someone once said:

“Why blame the dark for being dark? It is far more helpful to ask why the light isn’t as bright as it could be.”

 

What reasons have I forgotten?

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TEDx Oxford speakers

Looking forward to the TEDx event in Oxford. Thought I would do a bit of research on the speakers. My son is coming along with me and is really looking forward to the chance to interact with some big ideas. Here is some info on all of the speakers that I know abou. I have also included a tongue in cheek attempt to guess the talk titles they will speak to.

Laura Bates

Laura Bates is the founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, a collection of over 10,000 women’s daily experiences of gender inequality. If you have spent any time on Twitter in the last year you could not have missed this really helpful campaign that has exposed the subtle (and not so subtle) ways gender inequality is experienced in normal life.

You may want to visit Everday Sexism’s website to get a taste of this important work.

Paul Collier

Pau is a world renowned developmental economist with a particular interest in poverty. He is Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government, and Director for the Centre for the Study of African Economies at The University of Oxford and Fellow of St Antony’s College

I really enjoyed reading The Bottom Billion which explored the reasons why the poorest countries in the world are remaining poor. His latest book “Exodus” and I am guessing the topic of his lecture, is pretty controversial as the reviewer Kenan Malik  in the Independent argued.

But despite its wealth of statistical evidence, there is often a chasm between that evidence and Collier’s more contentious arguments. Many of its solutions are morally questionable.

Best bet for a talk title:

“How UKIP can appeal to the leftist elites”

Susan Greenfield

Susan Adele Greenfield, Baroness Greenfield, CBE, HonFRCP is a British scientist, writer, broadcaster, and member of the House of Lords.
John Tate. One of her areas of interest and the one I am hoping she is speaking on is the impact of technology on the brain. Susan’s work has sparked controversy in the past but she should be a very engaging speaker. On her website she asks:

What impact are technologies such as computer games, the Internet and social media having on the brain? Is Mind Change the new Climate Change?

She has authored numerous books including “Tomorrows People” :how 21st century Technology is changing the way we think and feel. 

My bet for a talk title:

“Is Candy Crush making us stupid? Is Facebook losing us friends?”

Anders Sandberg

Anders Sandberg’s research at the Future of Humanity Institute centres on societal and ethical issues surrounding human enhancement and new technology, as well as estimating the capabilities and underlying science of future technologies.

This topic seems to be in the sweet spot of the Wired and TED audience – can’t find anything he has written on it though…

Best Bet for talk title:

“The Future’s So Bright I had to wear Google Shades”

Peter Millican

Peter seems to be a real polymath – not only is he  Gilbert Ryle Fellow and Professor of Philosophy at Hertford College, Oxford University. He has also written numerous computer packages including the Turtle graphics programming System. My guess is that Peter’s research into “The Philosophical Significance of the Turing Machine and the Turing Test” might be TED friendly topic that he could speak on. It would tie in well with Sandberg and Greenfield’s specialities.

My bet for a Talk Title:

“Are you smarter than your smart phone?”

Augusta Thompson

Really excited to discover that Augusta is  Director of Corporate Outreach and Distribution for the Girl Rising film project. Check out the  amazing trailer here:

My bet for talk title:

“Changing the world one girl at a time: with help from Selena Gomez and Salma Hayek”

Richard Layard

Peter Richard Grenville Layard, Baron Layard FBA is a British labour economist, currently working as programme director of the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics. I have had his book on my shelf for a while “Happiness: lessons from a new science” and have been meaning to read it – will hopefully manage a quick skim before Ted Ex.

My best bet for a talk title:

“Shiny Happy People: poverty, development and economics”  

tedx_3982

The Secular is Haunted (live blog)

James K.A. Smith is previewing his new book “How not to be Secular” and I am going to try and live blog it – so apologies if it doesn’t all quite make sense.

Key question the existential core of Charles Taylor’s “A Secular Age” is very helpful.
What does it mean to live in a secular age? Is it an age of disenchantment?

Who gives us the best account of our secular age, in which we undoubtably find ourselves? Whose analysis of our present is the most helpful?

We are being given a subtraction story – where the secular is thought to be the world that is left when you lop off transcendence. Minus the fiction of transcendence we are left with the rational secular.

As Journey should have sung “Do Stop Believing.” There is something innacurate about this analysis.

Smith argues we are in the middle of a secular age, but wants to contest what it means. The story we are being given by most accounts of secularism does not make sense of our lives. These accounts do not take into account the experience of many atheists: e.g. Julian Barnes and Steve Jobs.

Julian Barnes “Nothing to be Frightened of”
“I don’t believe in God but I miss him”

This is very different to Ian McEllan.
“If I called myself an atheist at 20, and an agnostic at 60 it isn’t because I have more knowledge just recognising more ignorance.” Julian Barnes

All though we are more informed we are not more evolved, what convinces us that our knowledge is more final.

Barnes feels the haunting of the immanent
Much of what he enjoys owes its existence to Christianity

“Without the madness of the gospel, Mozart would never have composed a requiem.”
Julian Barnes

Steve Jobs
The late Apple CEO Steve Jobs said he was about “50/50” about the existence of God, but found himself “believing a bit more” in life after death after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Jobs told Walter Isaacson, “I saw my life as an arc and that it would end and compared to that, nothing mattered:
“You’re born alone, you’re going to die alone,” he said. “And does anything else really matter? I mean what is it exactly is it that you have to lose Steve? You know? There’s nothing.”
However Mr Jobs’s views softened after he became ill, Mr Isaacson told a CBS 60 Minutes programme marking the release of the book ‘Steve Jobs’ on Monday.
“Maybe it’s ‘cos I want to believe in an afterlife,” he recalled Mr Jobs saying. “That when you die, it doesn’t just all disappear. The wisdom you’ve accumulated. Somehow it lives on.

Smith argues (citing Charles Taylor)

1. We live in a world of contested belief
Secularity is not the same as unbelief but rather the contestability of beliefs. No beliefs are axiomatic or default or taken for granted. You can still be a believer but just not in the way that you forget that other people don’t believe it. Thus faith is “fragilised.”

2. The secular is an accomplishment
In other words this is not just what is left over when transcendence is removed.
We moved in 1500 when it was almost impossible in the west to not believe in God but in 2000 the opposite is true..

3. The immanent frame is only a viable space to inhabit with the advent of “exclusive humanism” which generates immanent significance”

We pursue meaning and significance without reference to the immanent.
We are free not to believe in transcendence but that all those that believe in transcendence believe differently.


4.The immanent frame is cross-pressured by (a nostalgia for?) transcendence and fulness.

We feel longings of an ancient impetus to faith that will keep pressing on us – this is “enchantment” in an age of secularity Peter Jackson’s rendition of Lord of the Rings is hugely popular because we long for enchantment. Is that because the world really is enchanted or we are just haunted by the memory of enchantment.

5. Secularlity does not end belief but creates a nova effect of many modes of believing otherwise

this new experience of what we see in Julian Barnes and Steve Jobs (or David Foster Wallace “Good Old Neon” and “All That”) explains the fact that we cannot map their experience of spirituality without this nova situation of belief.

Our most meaningful experiences and relationship are invisible and shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand.

Taylor suggests towards the end of his book that intense immanentisation will lead to a wasteland which encourage more young people to look beyond the boundaries because of the haunting of transcendence. People will look again to chritian tradition.

Smith finishes by quoting this poem:

[quote_box author=”” profession=””]

“Staying Power”
In appreciation of Maxim Gorky at the International Convention of Atheists, 1929

Like Gorky, I sometimes follow my doubts
outside to the yard and question the sky,
longing to have the fight settled, thinking
I can’t go on like this, and finally I say

all right, it is improbable, all right, there
is no God. And then as if I’m focusing
a magnifying glass on dry leaves, God blazes up.
It’s the attention, maybe, to what isn’t there

that makes the emptiness flare like a forest fire
until I have to spend the afternoon dragging
the hose to put the smoldering thing out.
Even on an ordinary day when a friend calls,

tells me they’ve found melanoma,
complains that the hospital is cold, I say God.
God, I say as my heart turns inside out.
Pick up any language by the scruff of its neck,

wipe its face, set it down on the lawn,
and I bet it will toddle right into the godfire
again, which—though they say it doesn’t
exist—can send you straight to the burn unit.

Oh, we have only so many words to think with.
Say God’s not fire, say anything, say God’s
a phone, maybe. You know you didn’t order a phone,
but there it is. It rings. You don’t know who it could be.

You don’t want to talk, so you pull out
the plug. It rings. You smash it with a hammer
till it bleeds springs and coils and clobbery
metal bits. It rings again. You pick it up

and a voice you love whispers hello.

Jeanie Murray Walker
found onPoetry Magazine site.

[/quote_box]

Because the imagination is the place in which transcendence is most clearly seen – the imagination is our battleground.

5 things I learned from James K.A. Smith

I’m a big fan of Smith’s work I have have enjoyed three of his books so far.

Who’s Afraid of Postmodernity
Desiring the Kingdom
Imaging the Kingdom

Desiring the Kingdom has without doubt been the most influential in my thinking and informs the 5 ideas outlined in this post.

1. We need to rethink our strategy of Christian discipleship in light of a Christian understanding of the person

I was brought up in a tradition that primarily aimed at the head as the core of the person. Romans 12:2 was the proof text “

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

Now it is true some traditions react against this emphasis on the mind and have an anti-intellectualist approach. Neither of these extremes is helpful. Smith presents a compelling case that education needs to be more holistic. We need to engage heart, mind and body. We need to develop a more holistic understanding of the person – we are not just “brains on stalks” but rather affective beings. The core of our being is the heart (kardia) which is not just fluffly emotionalism but recognising in a Augstinian (and I suppose Jonathan Edwards ) sense we are affectionate beings.

“What if education was primarily concerned with shaping our hopes and passions – our visions of the ‘good life’- and not merely about the dissemination of data and information as inputs to our thinking? What if the primary work of education was the transformation of our imagination rather than the saturation of our intellect? And what if this had as much to do with our bodies as with our minds?” DTK, p. 18

2. We are formed not just but the ideas of this world but by its practices

“Our hearts are oriented primarily by desire, by what we love, and because those desires are shaped and molded by the habit-forming practices in which participate” DTK, p,25

It is not just what we believe that determines who we are, but what we do habitually that shapes our affections. Tim Keller once explained that if you do not love someone then you should act lovingly towards them and the affections would come along afterwards. That is part of what Smith is advocating here. He uses Mall shopping as a powerful example of how this operates. We are socialised into desiring a certain form of life – through the architecture, the images, the example of others, the ambience, the physicality and instant gratification provided by the things we purchase. This repetitive exposure and immersive experience shapes what we consider a life worth living and shapes what our hearts value.

Liturgies in Smith’s sense are heart altering repetitive practices.

3. It is no accident that scripture normalises practices for the body of the church to repeat

Smith argues that we need to pay attention to rituals / liturgies prescribed by scripture:

“every liturgy is an education , and embedded in every liturgy is an implicit worldview or “understanding.”
DTK, p, 25

Smith’s picture of an average or normal church service is limiting – he assumes a relatively “high church” setting. He once remarked that he thought there were certain transcultural norms for the church’s worship but when pressed these still seemed to be culturally bound. Nevertheless he lists the following as the essential formative practices of the church:

[quote_box author=”” profession=””]a) the act of gathering
b) the welcome
c) reading of the Law
d) the creed
e) Singing
f) Baptism and Communion
g) Prayer
h) Scripture and the Sermon
i) Offering
j) The dismissal or benediction[/quote_box]

There’s lots to like about Smith’s analysis as I will explore. I would take issue with the structure that Smith seems to think is transcultural – I think there is a colonial critique to be applied to this and a middle class western filter that needs to be exposed. There’s a power structure going on in the way that the vicar is seen to stand in for Christ rather than body of Christ serving as priests. There’s a passivity to the elements that is an inherited part of a reformed clergy lead ecclesiology.

Often we seek to dismember the service – what is the least we can get away with and still call it church? That was partly influenced by the Seeker friendly church movement of the 80s and is present to some degree in some Fresh Expressions. Similar sentiments were raised in the Gospel Driven Church by Ian Stackhouse in the 1990s. The implicit model seemed to be
“Can we demystify and declutter the service so that we can make room for the sermon which is where non-Christians are going to be converted.”

Smith makes a bold case that these practices are not just filler before the sermon, not just relics of a former way of doing things – but have affective and formative function in the disciplemaking we are tasked to do by the risen Christ.

4. Do we need to reconsider the way we do evangelism too?

Does Smith’s work reopen debate about evangelism? In many circles there was a long debate about Belonging before Believing in the cell church movement. This affectionate reorientation of Christian formation would seem to argue for more along those lines.

MEET
SING
PRAY
REPEAT

Is being a part of the “liturgical life” of the church a means by which we induct people into the narrative of the gospel? Is there a connection with what Newbigin described as “the church as hermeneutic of the gospel.” Again the communal life of the church in Smith’s thought seems to take second place to the act of formal worship

5. Is it possible we have still neglected the family as formative community?

Strangely for a book on Christian education no role is given to the family . The Christian university is Smith’s setting but a truly biblical anthropology will not view an individual as a consumer of Christian formation. Even at tertiary level family is a hugely significant context for a young adult.

Perhaps the habitualised environment of teaching at a Christian university has set an unnatural normalising limit to Smith’s work. Because I know Smith’s work is being applied in contexts that are very different to the Christian university I believe this is worth noting.

The church’s lituirgical practice is given as a positive example of Christian formation – but again the unit of attendance is assumed to be an individual. What difference does it make that liturgical practice takes place in the context of family?

Watch this space as I want to unpack this as we explore the discipleship of children and young people in future posts.

There’s lots more to enjoy in Smith’s work, read more in Desiring the Kingdom

Desiring-the-Kingdom-9780801035777

Finding Mum and Dad at an Adoption Party?

Well done to Channel 4 for producing a moving and compelling documentary about children in foster care and the need for adoptors.

6000 children in England are waiting in foster care for a forever family – an adoptive family so this is an important and urgent issue.

“I wouldn’t chose to buy a sofa online from DFS without going to sit on it first”
Project Co-ordinator Bridget Betts

It was unfortunate that this was the metaphor that was used to rationalise the Adoption Activity Day, because it seemed to encourage the consumer model of selection even when it comes down to choosing children. This is already often the case – adopters are encouraged to pick a child that suits them rather than considering whether they are the kind of family that these so-called “hard to place” children need. Indeed this wasn’’t the only time such a metaphor was used:

“To put it crudely it’s a buyers market”
Project Co-rdinator Bridget Betts

Sadly as we live in a consumer society it is not surprising that we see this affecting the way adoption is approached. There is often almost a shopping list approach where adopters come with pre-discussed ideas as to the gender, age, looks, or needs of any child they would consider.

I can relate to the foster carer Katy (who came across as a brilliant carer who obviously loved the children in her care and would fight for their needs) who said she felt like she was “trying to sell an unwanted product”. In her case she had two brothers who at age 4 and 6, were outside the criteria of many potential adopters.

Sibling separation (one of the proposed paths forward for Katy’s foster sons as it enhanced the possibilities of the younger child finding a home) is a painful reality for many children. Perhaps younger children are chosen because they are perceived to come with less baggage or needs, or because they are ‘cuter’, or because agencies are actively recruiting adopters who want to ‘start’ a family. Whatever the reason it is hard to extract this consumer approach out of the equation.

In fact, adoption activity days have the potential to turn this consumerism on its head. Meeting and interacting with individual children and sibling groups can and often does have the effect of putting the paper profiles into perspective. The normal process for being matched with a child sometimes involves adopters making a decision based on a photograph and a couple of paragraphs describing the child’s background and needs. It is hard not to focus on the “problems” presented with each child. Once adopters encounter a child’s personality however, it reduces the importance of whether a child has a heart defect or possible learning difficulties. So an adoption activity day increases the opportunity for a child to be connected with as a person rather than as a set of facts or figures on a page.

The downside of course is that some children will be looked over even at one of these activity days. The programme presented a child that had been to three activity days and not been chosen. I am nervous that there could be on going rejection issues if these children ever discover or work out that they had not been chosen.

The television programme also revealed that these events seem to put pressure on the adoptors too. One couple reported how they felt they were not choosing children but rejecting them.

These are exceptional times and this calls for extraordinary measures. I am fully supportive of BAAF and their desire to find adoptive homes for the children waiting for families. I wish that these kinds of ‘parties’ didn’t need to exist but I can see how they could play a part in finding the families these children need. 42 children adopted out of 250 is an encouraging statistic and means that these parties will now be rolled out around the country in an effort to help the waiting children find families.

The Home for Good campaign is calling the church to take a different approach to fostering and adoption. We want to follow the model God has set for our adoption. God did not look at us with a list of demands or requirements. God was moved by our need and did whatever it took to meet it and adopt us into his family. If we followed his example, we would ask how we could fit around the needs of the children, not whether the children could fit into our families. We would love to see sibling groups kept together, children with additional needs helped to thrive and meet their potential, and we believe that churches could wrap around and offer the support to adopters that would make this possible.

“Finding Mum and Dad” seemed to portray couples coming forward who weren’t able to have birth children. However Home for Good is looking wider. We are calling on all sorts of people to “rule themselves in” for adoption. People with and without birth children, singles, empty-nesters – all sorts of families could find room to welcome some of these children.

The programme also showed predominantly white children and white adopters. I understand in London around 70% of children available for adoption are from black and minority ethnic groups, and many of our churches are multi-cultural and could offer homes to children from all these backgrounds.

The two boys who were the stars of the show did not have a happy ending by the conclusion. They were not picked, although it was decided not to separate them, and to keep looking for that special family. But despite the boys ages and needs and constant rejection, I can’t imagine many viewers who would not have felt that they couldn’t provide a home for these two lovely brothers. For me this was the best part of the programme. It clearly portrayed that we can fall in love with ‘hard-to-place’ children, and many of us can in fact meet their needs with a secure loving home and a spare bedroom.

Come and help us to find homes for lovely children like Connor and Daniel . Get involved as a champion, a supporter or a carer at www.homeforgood.org Sign up for regular emails and together we can make a difference for these children.

You may also like the blog post “Please don’t adopt a Snow Leopard”
 

 

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