Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Evaluating Wellbeing - a Tool for the Church?

Gallup has launched a new book and program focused on Wellbeing. Their StrengthsFinders work has been extremely valuable to me so I expect this will be good stuff as well.

It uses an online assessment questionnaire that you can take repeatedly in order to see changes in your wellbeing over time and the influence of events and actions you take. Suggestions are provided for making improvements in the five "Essential Elements" of Wellbeing their material presents:
  • Career
  • Social
  • Financial
  • Physical
  • Community
A couple of things come quickly to mind:

No "Spiritual" aspect to wellbeing? I can't imagine that's an oversight, so they must have reasons for not going there. I'll be interested to learn what they are.

Social and Community Wellbeing are two different things. The fact that I was surprised to see them listed separately is telling evidence that I really am a part of my Western culture, which is generally so focused on the individual that issues around community are generally off the radar.

What if your congregation picked this up and ran with it? Suppose your congregation made intentional, ongoing work with this tool a core practice of your community life (after adding in a Spiritual Wellbeing component, of course)? Imagine adding a faith-based perspectives to conversations on Career and Financial Wellbeing? Do you think this might be something your people would value and benefit from?

Do you think they might, just possibly, mention it to their friends, neighbors and coworkers?

Suppose you offered workshops and support groups around this to the community around your church... gave them the books for free as a sign of your commitment to the practice of being a blessing to others... made the sessions completely non-religious but offered an opt-in conversation after each gathering for those who wanted to add the faith dimension... I'm just thinking out loud here...

Do you think people outside your church might begin to see it as an asset to the neighborhood, a partner in the community?

I wonder!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Kiddie Pool Community Gardens?

Is your congregation looking for a way to serve - and meet - your neighbors? Interested in a ministry to help feed the poor or welcome immigrants from foreign lands?

Here's an idea - offer free garden space to the community in kiddie pools!

The materials are fairly cheap and reusable. You could probably get a grant for a project like this from any number of community-building or hunger related groups. (Know a good one? Please leave a comment!!)

Got apartment dwellers on the block? There have got to be some frustrated gardeners living in there! Give them a reason to cross the street and then go meet them as you garden together.

Does your local food shelf need fresh food? Why not grow some for them?

Are there immigrants in your community who are still trying to develop a taste for Mac'n'cheese but really miss the flavors of home? Offer them a place to grow the vegetables they are used to eating. Imagine what you might pick up from swapping recipes with them!

Maybe a small flotilla of tomato-laden kiddie pools isn't quite what you had in mind when you thought of ways to make your church landscaping more attractive. Of course, there are different ways to think about "beauty." Is Jesus really that big into well-mown grass? Or is a community meeting place a more likely field in which to sow the seeds he favors anyway?

As they say, it's all in the eye of The Beholder.