I would like to give you a synopsis of one of today’s talks. Melba Maggay led a wonderful reflection on the Holy Spirit as the one who “centres”. The Holy Spirit keeps the Christian identity centred and keeps us from “mission drift”. She especially applied this to Christian NGOs.
According to Melba Christian NGOs are always in danger of losing their Christian identity. This is because much what is done Christian NGOs is also done by non-Christian NGOs. The question as to what defines the work as a Christian NGO is good one and one that is sometimes hard to answer. Some organisations’ websites do not give away at all the the organisation is Christian. So is this integral mission, establishing Shalom. Or is it good people doing good work? It is the Holy Spirit that centre that identity in Christ. Being constantly aware of the Spirit’ presence in discernment is essential to the maintenance of this identity.
The Holy Spirit also prevents “mission drift”; i.e. The drift away from the mission of establishing Shalom. In the task of raising funds for projects and administering funds for those projects the mission drift can occur. Some NGOs do know how many people are helped out of poverty. They may know how much how much they have raised, how many projects they have, how many people they employ etc. but their mission has drifted to another place.
The Spirit is discerned through the Word. She gave and example of an organisation working with street girls. They had 5 mins of bible study a day and soon they are getting live together and church grew up and started to work etc. illustrating the importance of the Spirit in integral mission.
Finally the Holy Spirit stops institutions becoming and end in themselves like in Jeremiah 7:4 where the Israelites chant “the Temple of the LORD, the Temple of the LORD, the Temple of the LORD”. The temple itself doesn’t save but the Lord of the Temple does. Institutions of agencies can become ends within themselves but discernment of the Holy Spirit can avoid this.
This talk was incredibly incisive and challenging.