Thursday, July 06, 2006

Part 2: The Myth of a Laity-Driven Movement

In last week's Newsweek feature "15 People Who Make America Great," Pastor Rick Warren was featured for his work "Mobilizing Christians worldwide to heal the sick and feed the hungry." Warren said that

"Reformation always start with the peasants; they don't start with the elites."

He is also quoted as saying of the church that

"It's universal distribution…. There's a church in every village in the world… the potential sits there like a sleeping giant."

The global P.E.A.C.E. church is preparing to serve as an army -- "troops of caring volunteers" who "can be deployed to communities in need with the push of a button" according to this article. A recent Fortune magazine article about Rick Warren's global plan, stated:

"About all he knows for sure is that the project will be driven by local pastors who will get help from churches in the developed world. 'The church has a distribution point in every community,' he says, 'and we have a massive army of volunteers that neither business nor government has.'"

It is clear from this statement that this is NOT a laity-driven movement. It is a top-down strategy which relies upon local pastors to be army recruiters to enlist "volunteers" to implement Rick Warren's plan.

This is interesting because of the rising philanthropic connection to all of this activity. There is a new face to philanthropy which is also working to channel the soldiers in this army into specific directions. This plan is not laity-driven at all, but rather top-down and outcome-based.

In the new philanthropic world, foundations do not give money unless charities can demonstrate they have produced measurable results. This mentality came out of the work that Peter Drucker did in the latter part of his life, focusing his energies on the "private" or "social sector." He advocated the use of corporate-style measurements and evaluations as a strategy for charities, churches and private agencies to adopt.

The chief vehicle to export Drucker's ideals to the evangelical church was via Bob Buford's Leadership Network. Leadership Network has trained thousands of pastors in the Drucker model. And Drucker's influence also shows up in the purpose-driven life and church model of Rick Warren -- an obvious result of their long mentoring relationship. A 6/29/06 HalfTime mailing from Greg Murtha of Halftime (an initiative of Bob Buford's Leadership Network) provides an example of how the new philanthropy is measurement-oriented and performance-based:

"In most social sector endeavors the measure of results, both quantitatively and qualitatively, is either non-existent or vague. This can leave you with no way to measure your impact.

"You left business to plug into this new work, so that you could make an impact. You might have left a ton of money on the table in the process and you need to know that you are making at least an equivalent amount of impact in your new work. Without good measurement you feel somewhat like a ship lost at sea and it puts you under pressure to aggressively increase your impact in your new work. Neither feeling lost nor overcompensating to increase impact is healthy.

"Taking your understanding of measuring impact and applying it to this new situation can bless both you and the organization you are working within. We recommend that you help your new team to define clear outcomes that you can measure success by. You will need to creatively combine the qualitative factors so crucial to the social sector with quantitative measurements that you and your organizations financial donors need to know. One outstanding tool designed specifically to help non-profit organizations in this area is the Drucker Self Assessment tool. Click here to order copies for your team to use." [all emphases added]

More complete information about the ramifications of this performance-based system can be found in the monograph, The Pied Pipers of Purpose, particularly in chapters 5 and 6.

An outcome-based system is never local, nor is it grassroots. Rather, it is the implementation of a plan or "vision" selected by leaders. Much of this system relies upon site-based management techniques which relegate insignificant decision-making roles to lower-level peons while reserving powerful decision-making rights to the upper echelons.

The new philanthropy uses a more aggressive strategy of requiring that charities, private entities and agencies meet their prescribed outcomes. The inordinate focus on measurement is one way to determine whether a charity is meeting the performance goal set by the foundation who is donating the money. An article on Monday, July 3, 2006 in the Wall Street Journal (page B1), "Strings Attached: Along With Their Big Bucks, Rich Donors Want to Give Charities Their Two Cents," by Christopher Conkey states:

“Increasingly, though, wealthy donors are opting for a more hands-on approach, giving money on the condition that the charity take their management advice, too. In many cases, fledging nonprofits , in exchange for new funding, agree to let benefactors overhaul their business models, make personnel changes and install financial controls.”

Big money has always pulled strings. But the new system of measuring "success" guarantees that this cannot possibly be a grassroots "reformation" that starts with the "peasants," as Warren asserts. Rather, the peasants are like marionette puppets, dancing to the global tune.

The Truth:

"And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.
"But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve." (Luke 22:25-26)