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Compassionate Community Work Course...

Foreword

Introduction to Compassionate Community Work

Compassionate Community Work Articles

Compassionate Community Work Stories

Compassionate Community Work DVD

 

 

Foreword

In “Compassionate Community Work”, Dave Andrews has provided a truly remarkable and comprehensive resource for teaching and learning about community development. This “introductory course on community work for churches”, is much more than a text book. It is an invitation to participate in an experiential, highly practical, spiritually rich, and potentially life-changing learning process. 

This exceptional resource is the product of someone who has dedicated much of his life to nurturing in himself and others a commitment to work with those whom society so easily ignores, neglects, and sometimes even despises. It is also the product of a gifted teacher, and employs a learning methodology which maximises the opportunity for students to fully own and internalise what they discover. This is what I find particularly exciting and refreshing, because it takes into account how much of our really important learning actually occurs. Not surprisingly, it reflects an approach to discovery and learning that also lies at the heart of successful community development.

There are many profound insights in this resource because Dave is a particularly reflective scholar and practitioner.  This also means he draws on a very discerning selection of information and thoughts from other scholars, development workers, and  recent research.

The course ensures that the essential skills, principles, practices and competencies of community development are properly covered. As a result it fully meets the relevant criteria required by the Australian National Training Authority. This is what Dave calls the “outer dimension of the course”. But what makes this course so exceptional is its “inner dimension”, what Dave refers to as the “soul” of the course. In my experience, it’s rare in any sphere of endeavour, to discover teachers or learning resources, which truly integrate the spiritual dimension into the learning experience. More often than not, the so-called “spiritual” is added as a tack-on. In effect it is sidelined and undervalued, reinforcing the compartmentalisation of our lives, and reducing the influence of the Spirit.

In this regard, Dave’s course is utterly different. Prayer, meditation, vigorous engagement with Biblical material, private and communal reflection, are all central activities. Within this context, the constant questioning is sometimes provocative, but there is also a grace and gentleness in the process – a beautiful pastoral quality. And behind it all? A love and respect for the church, but also a longing to see churches, in whatever shape they take, develop as rich communities where we love God, love and sustain one another, and truly love our neighbour.

Finally, I want to stress just how user-friendly this course is. Explanations and instructions are given with great clarity. It’s all so easy to follow. Moreover, the material would be easy to adapt to different contexts. Many years of living and working in a low income country has done much to inform and shape Dave’s understanding of church and community development.

In producing this manual Dave has done us a great service.

 

Steve Bradbury

National Director, TEAR Australia

Chairman, Micah Network

 

 

Introduction to Compassionate Community Work

Compassionate Community Work is an Introductory Course in Christ-like Community Work. It can be studied formally as a subject for university and/or seminary - or informally at home in your own church and/or community.

Compassionate Community Work has an inner dimension and an outer dimension.  

The inner dimension, or “soul”, of the course is my passion for in-situ, spiritual, experiential, personal, relational, ethical, action-reflection community development education.  It seeks to provide people with the opportunity to explore a dynamic spirituality that is essential for developing a healthy faith based community.  The Trinity is the model, Christ is the example, the Gospel is the process, and the Spirit is the power for healthy faith based community development.

In his study of Basic Communities, David Clark says:

community (is) essentially a sentiment which people have about themselves in relation to themselves: a sentiment expressed in action, but still basically a feeling. People have many feelings, but there are two essentials for the existence of community: a sense of significance and sense of solidarity. The strength of community within any given group is determined by the degree to which its members experience both a sense of solidarity and a sense of significance within it.[1]

In his book on community, psychologist Scott Peck said:

If we are going to use the word meaningfully we must restrict it to a group of individuals who have learned to communicate honestly with each other, whose relationships go deeper than their masks of composure, and who have developed some significant commitment to “rejoice together, mourn together”, “delight in each other, make other's conditions our own”.[2]

Moreover, after researching five different Christian communities in depth, sociologist Luther Smith wrote:

The primary indicator of communal well-being is that members feel their fellowship approximates the qualities of a caring family. Hardship and failures will be the occasion for creative solutions and increased resolve. They do not break the spirit of a community. But loss of mutual respect and steadfast caring strikes a deathblow at the very heart of a community.[3]

Thus it is my hope that this training will provide you with the opportunity to explore the sense of “significance and solidarity”, which is at the heart of “community”.  Hopefully through this learning experience, you will develop a sense of “deep mutual respect” with people around you – as in a “healthy extended family” – in which you will be free to “rejoice together and mourn together”.[4]

The outer dimension of the course deals with community development knowledge, skills, principles, practices and competencies, seeking to impart:

1)            underpinning knowledge, such as:

                    the nature and the dynamics of community

                    community development principles and practices

                    community development strategies and tactics

                    methods for encouraging community participation

                    concepts of effective community leadership

                    organisational systems,

                    program guidelines

                    project budgets

                    funding options

2)            underpinning skills, such as:

                    formal and informal networking

                    liaising with a range of people

                    researching community issues

                    developing community policies

                    facilitating community meetings

                    negotiating community agreements

                    preparing community budgets

                    promoting community activities

                    evaluating community programs

                    writing community reports

When you complete Compassionate Community Work, you will be able to:

1)         demonstrate a developed understanding of community and community development in light of biblical material

2)         articulate a broad understanding of general theories related to community and community development

3)         analyse with insight the issues involved in doing church-based community development

4)        identify and develop opportunities for church community leadership

5)         appreciate Christian responses which enhance human dignity, community solidarity and effective witness

6)         articulate and value the uniquely Christian contribution to community and community development

Compassionate Community Work will help you clarify an understanding of biblical material related to community and community development; consider general theories related to community and community development in the context of today’s world; analyse the issues involved in doing church-based community development; appreciate Christian responses which enhance human dignity, community solidarity and effective witness, such as:

  the principles of compassionate community work

  the practices of compassionate community work

Compassionate Community Work Principles

Introduction to Community

Community Development

The Church and Community Development

The Strategies of Community Development

The Spirit of Community Development

Breaking through the Barrier of Futility

Breaking through the Barrier of Selfishness

Breaking through the Barrier of Fear

Breaking through the Barrier of Spitefulness

Building Bridges to People

Building Bridges on Relationships

Building Bridges through Groups

Building Bridges through Co-operation

Bringing about personal hope

Bringing about social empowerment

Bringing about problem resolution

Bringing about prophetic transformation

 

Compassionate Community Work Practices

Community work skill (1) – communicating

Community work skill (2) – negotiating

Community work skill (3) – facilitating

Community work skill (4) – supporting

Community work skill (5) – researching

Community work skill (6) – planning (a)           

Community work skill (6) – planning (b)

Community work skill (7) – budgeting           

Community work skill (8) – reporting

Community work skill (9) – promoting           

Community work skill (10) – persevering

 

Processes, Exercises And Partners

Compassionate Community Work includes processes, exercises, a set text, study notes, additional readings, and a simple series of community tasks that you can work through, step-by-step, in the context of your own community.  

This course includes a set of instructions to assist you in self-managed study.  However, no course on community work could possibly be done in total isolation.  So you will need a learning partner for this course.  It doesn’t matter if it is a new acquaintance or an old friend.  What matters is it is some-one you believe you can work with, someone you feel comfortable with, you can collaborate with, and be accountable to.

A learning partner does not need to be present when you do most of the study sessions.  But there are some sessions where it is absolutely essential that you have one or two learning partners with you, in order to be able to explore the subject being studied with integrity. The learning partners for these sessions need not be learning partners you have chosen for the whole course, but any helpful people who might be available.

 

Learning Guidelines For Informal Study

1. You alone are responsible for your own learning. To get the most out of your study of Compassionate Community Work, you need to follow the instructions in the each session - including reading the materials, talking things over with a learning partner, answering the questions, completing the set community tasks and writing up the working notes - on a weekly basis

2. To do all the work the course entails you would need to dedicate at least 2  hours for each session, 2  hours for the tasks associated with each session. It would take about 5 hours a week.

3. The Community Tasks that you are encouraged to do are at the end of each session. These activities provide the that are the basis for the action and reflection at the heart of the course.

4. The Working Notes that you are encouraged to keep are made up of informal personal reflections you make on specific lessons you learn from this course through your engagement with community development theory and practice in your community.  Working Notes are not an objective reporting of events, per see, but  more subjective, personal reflections on some of the thoughts, feelings and issues that the course raises for you to consider.  

5. While reading widely on the topic of community development is strongly encouraged, we have tried to provide enough resources for you to read without having to access a library.  Additional Articles (Appendix Two) and Stories (Appendix Three) have been provided for you on my website www.daveandrews.com.au .

Training Guidelines For Formal Study

1. Your responsibilities are to help students clarify their understanding of biblical material related to community and community development; consider general theories related to community and community development in the context of today’s world; analyse the issues involved in doing church-based community development; appreciate Christian responses which enhance human dignity, community solidarity and effective witness, such as:

  the principles of compassionate community development

  the practices of compassionate community development

  the church as a subject for community development

  the church as an agent of community development;

  identify and develop opportunities for church community leadership;

  provide support for leadership structures and processes in the church community;

  provide support for leadership training and learning in the church community;

  demonstrate a capacity to undertake a range of activities to ensure appropriate participation in community activities;

  and undertake a range of activities to ensure appropriate participation by groups and individuals in community activities.

 

2. You need to encourage students to study Compassionate Community Work -  following the instructions in the each session (including reading the materials, talking things over with a learning partner, answering the questions, and writing up the working notes) on a weekly basis where possible

3. If students are studying the course for accreditation you will also need to encourage them to

        participate in a Residential Intensives (if required)

        complete the weekly Community Tasks

        complete the weekly Working Notes

        complete the Essays and Reports

Students should be encouraged to dedicate at least 2  hours for each session, 2  hours for the tasks associated with each session, 3 hours a week for additional reading, and 2 hours for writing.  This means that students should aim to dedicate at least 10 hours a week to this course.

4. The best way of encouraging students is to meet with them at least once a week every week for a couple of hours. If that is not possible, you may want to consider staying in touch with them by phone and/or email – and organise a Residential Intensive once or twice during the duration of the course.

A Residential Intensive is a ‘2 - 3 day face-to-face facilitated learning experience’.

What a Residential Intensive Is

 

What a Residential Intensive Isn’t

One important aspect of their learning experience.

The main learning event for this course.

An opportunity to withdraw briefly from their context to reflect on and discuss the themes and emphases of this course, after which they will return to their in-situ engagement.

The place to be provided with the content of the course.

A gathering of fellow travellers who have unique and valuable perspectives and contributions to make to each other’s learning.

A place for students to be lectured to by ‘an expert’.

A facilitated, interactive process.

A passive, receptive process.

A ‘whole-of-person’ engagement with God, each other and the themes of this course.

An academic exercise only.                               [5]

5. The Community Tasks that need to be completed are at the end of each session. These activities provide the that are the basis for the action and reflection at the heart of the course. The Reports that students are expected to write are based on the Working Notes they keep on these Community Tasks.

6. The Working Notes that need to be completed are made up of informal (but, legible) personal reflections students make on specific lessons they learn from this course through their engagement with community development theory and practice in their community.  The Working Notes are not the Reports but form the basis for the student’s Reports. Working Notes are not an objective reporting of events, per see, but  more subjective, personal reflections. NOTE: Working Notes should NOT be graded - but should be submitted as evidence of the student’s personal learning progress.

7. Two formal Reports are to be submitted - one for each half of the course - framed around:

                        the weekly tasks attempted

                        strategies tried

                        successes

                        failures

                        lessons learned along the way

 

The Reports should demonstrate the student’s theoretical and practical understanding of community work within the framework of the student’s own spirituality.  Reports should be based on the weekly the Working Notes they keep on their Community Tasks.  Honesty, authenticity and creativity in these presentations should be rewarded. But students should be reminded that while these Reports may be  personal and practical, Reports are assessable pieces of work. References and research need to be adequately cited, and a Bibliography appended.

Reports by  degree students should be 2,000 words and diploma students should be 1,500 words

8. Two Essays are to be written - one for each half of the course - demonstrating an in-depth under-standing of one aspect of compassionate community work.  Students may either suggest a topic for approval to the facilitator, or choose one of the following suggested topics:

1)            the principles of compassionate community development

2)            the practices of compassionate community development

3)            the church as a subject for community development

3)            the church as an agent of community development

4)            gender equity in community development

5)            indigenous people in community development

6)            migrants and refugees in community development

7)            disadvantaged people in community development        

Essays by degree students should be 3,000 words and diploma students should be 2,500 words  

9. Facilitators need to understand that not all students have access to good libraries. While library research is strongly encouraged where possible, we have tried to provide the resources needed for students to be able to complete essay writing without accessing a library.  Additional Stories and Articles have been provided for students on my website www.daveandrews.com.au



[1]  Clark, D. Basic Communities (London: SPCK 1975), pp. 4-5.

[2]  Peck,S. The Different Drum (London: Rider and Co. 1988), p. 59.

[3]  Smith, L. Intimacy And Mission (Herald Press, 1994), pp. 98-100.

[4]  Research in Organisational Change and Development, Vol 1 (JAI Press, 1987), pp. 129–169.

[5] Garry Hills Residential Facilitators Handbook ACOM 2004

 

 

 

 

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