This paper aims to discuss economic empowerment for the Church, and suggest some methods we need to employ in order to empower the Church economically. Further, discussion will focus on capacity building and net working in order to sustain the economic development in the Church of the Global South.
As far as the Church in the Global South is concern, this task of Economic Empowerment is a matter of urgency, and if the Christians are to show decisive signs of Church maturity. Therefore, there is a need to address the causes and probably ask the vital questions which we need to confront within the context of the Church of the Global South.
1. Economic Empowerment
What do we mean by Economic Empowerment for the Church?
To borrow the words of two Drs Ogara and Julius economic empowerment would mean:
Having adequate resources and income to maintain the organization’s output and this means to be self supporting that is having enough finances, effective administration and management in various facets of the Church. This would imply that the organization is able to carry out its work with the resources it has.
However, local economic empowerment does not mean doing away with the partners from the North who works to help the Church in the Global South, though they are not self-reliant themselves. The partners also depend on the well endowed organizations to help them in their missions of supporting the Church in the Global South and the poor. Local Economic Empowerment is therefore as Dr Ogara observes it is essentially to promote interdependence in our partnerships with our brothers and sisters in the North.
When we speak of economic empowerment in the Church of the Global South, we are entering the area of utilizing our capacities to create wealth for the Church in order to reduce the dependency on the North. It is an effort to reduce hunger, misery and poverty in general and to improve the lives of people as part and parcel of the proclamation of the gospel to bring about happiness and harmony. As observed by Kalilombe, economic sustainability is to be self governing, self propagating and self sustaining as a Church. The Church in the Global South will have credibility, because she will be able to witness, and not to compromise her mandate of spreading the gospel and transform communities for better life for all God’s people. Further this is also observed by Mpundu, also says
“Lack of economic sustainability in the Church of the Global South Church, the consequences may lead to an imbalance in sense that the Church will need to carryout its missions to help the poor, but will not have the resources to carry out that mission Therefore the consequences of this imbalance are that a big number of pastoral programs within the Church will continue to largely depend on donor funds, and the continuity of such trends perpetuate the risk of sacrificing own autonomy and propriety of programs, projects and this will be to the detriment of the Church in the Global South and its beneficiaries”.
D.G. Dunn, observes that when the Church attains economic empowerment, the ability to maintain and sustain the Church materially and financially will bring about a lot of Change. In this case with emphasis on finances to manage and sustain the mission such as:
1. The seminaries will attract ably qualified men and women with credible scholarship to be lecturers,
2. Because they will be properly remunerated, Clergy will be highly motivated and cared for properly and together with their families,
3. Engagement of more evangelists and Church planting will take place, and finally we shall be able to meet costs that involve conferences such this 4th Trumpet and any other needs of the Church’s ministry and missions.
Economic empowerment is possible in the Church of the Global South because there is availability of the necessary human resource in the pews, these are professional people who can plan and advice the Church leadership, who in turn would use their influence, and persuade every member of the Church to come on board and be engaged.
How then can we achieve economic empowerment in the Church of the Global South?
We have some of the examples from the Church Commissioners in Kenya and Zambia:
1) Where there are massive investments. At one time the Provincial Bishops in Kenya agreed to have moratorium, that is not to receive funds from the Provincial investments in order to reinvest further, so that the Church can be self-sustaining and continue with its ministry and mission. In the Diocese of Mount Kenya, the income from the investments part of it goes to help people who live in the slums as part of the mission of the Diocese to the poor.
2) By partnering with one another at Provincial and Diocesan levels and networking with other organizations within and outside our contexts.
The Church of Kenya is now working in regional groupings of the dioceses, and invest together in order to reap more for the good of every Christian in the Church. This is being achieved through the Church Commissioners of Kenyan which are enabling the rural and urban Dioceses to be self-sustaining economically by under- writing the Bank loans, which enable such Dioceses to access resources for capital investments.
3)The Church in Zambia has some investments, Bishops and the laity work and make decisions together; regardless where one is situated that is urban or rural. They share the Church’s National income which helps to pay Clergy and manage their Dioceses, though this does not involve large sums of money, but there is an example of the potential to make economic empowerment happen for the Church.
What lessons can we learn from the above two examples namely Kenya and Zambia. The following could be some of the lessons, though there could be more
- Unity within the Province or Diocese can bear more fruits, in that every body will be able to participate in the creation of wealth, recognized and appreciate every person’s contribution. We cannot be naïve; there are areas within the Global South which are plagued by many problems i.e. political instability, diseases and hunger. But if there is networking and support for each other we can achieve the desired goals of economic empowerment in the Church of the Global South. The well endowed Provinces or Dioceses should partner with less endowed Provinces and Dioceses, so that we can uplift each other and enable others to engage fully in the mission and ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- The second lesson we can learn is that in the Kenya and Zambian contexts there is a spirit of bearing one another’s burden. The Bishops have demonstrated that no any one person can manage to prosper unless others come to his aid. This has been done in some Dioceses and Provinces where well do Christians in consultation with local Bishop who are situated in economic privileged areas have had to raise funds for other dioceses where they come from just in order to support the ministry and missions of that particularly Diocese. This means we should broaden our understanding of the needs of the Church beyond where we are and what we are doing.
- The third lesson is that, the laity does have a very important role to play in the creation of wealth in the Church of the Global South. They may not have a gift of preaching the gospel from the pulpits but they can be enablers by providing the necessary finances, human resources and any other materials necessary for carrying out the missions and ministry in the in the Church of the Global South. They can do that if they are given space in which to use their gifts by the leadership of the Church. We cannot pretend that the Church exists in the Global context where the economies are changing frequently for better or worse. Therefore we need technocrats who will help the Church to move with world though not to compromise the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- The fourth lesson is that we should begin to see the economic empowerment as business ventures as opposed to be seeing them as another matter of the Church. Listening to the CEO at the Church Commissioners in Kenya, it was business language at work in his explanation about successes and challenges that they face in their work as Church Commissioners.
This is the best way of making use of professionals who can make it happen and have the multiplier effect economically in the Church of the Global South. This does not happen magically, it is a proper identification of professional business people who are also committed to Christians values to provide clear ,good advice, and able to manage the investment professionally like the Church Commissioners in Kenya and Zambia. This was also observed by the Global South Economic Empowerment Consultation in Accra, Ghana that it is important to encourage every person to know that they have been gifted by God and that these gifts, when brought together, can accomplish far more than we can ask or imagine.
Economic Empowerment for the Global South is call to a change of attitude at all levels of the Church ,this is also observed by J.M. Ela without losing sight of the responsibilities we have in our communities, which are self-determination and self management with the full participation of all.
We now move to the two key concepts as far as achievement of Economic empowerment is concerned
“Developing and using contacts made in business for purposes beyond the reason for the initial contact. For example, a sales representative may ask a customer for names of others who may be interested in his product”.
The ability to network is one of the most crucial skills any entrepreneur can have. How else will you meet the clients and contacts necessary to grow your business? Nothing could be farther from the truth. Many people go to networking events, but very few know how to network effectively. Networking is more than just getting out and meeting people. Networking is a structured plan to get to know people who will do business with you or introduce you to those who will. The best way to succeed at networking is to make a plan, commit to it, learn networking skills and execute your plan. To make the best plan, ask yourself:
What do I want to achieve? How many leads (prospects) do I want per month? Where do my customers and prospects go to network? What business organizations would benefit my business? How can I build my image and my business's image? What would I like to volunteer to do in the community? Make a five-year networking plan listing your five best customers, five targeted prime prospects and five targeted organizations.
Next, set goals for involvement in each organization, determine how much time you will need to commit to each organization and prospect, and decide what kinds of results you expect. The trick with networking is to become proactive. This means taking control of the situation instead of just reacting to it. Networking requires going beyond your comfort zone and challenging yourself. The following are some the tips:
- Set a goal to meet five or more new people at each event. Whenever you attend a group, whether a party, a mixer or an industry luncheon, make a point of heading straight for people you don't know. Greet the newcomers (they will love you for it!). If you don't make this goal a habit, you'll naturally gravitate toward the same old acquaintances.
- Try one or two new groups. You can attend almost any organization's meetings a few times before you must join. This is another way to stretch you and make a new set of contacts. Determine what business organizations and activities you would best fit into. It may be the chamber of commerce, the arts council, a museum society, a civic organization, a baseball league, a computer club or the PTA. Attend every function you can that synergizes your goals and customer/prospect interaction.
- Carry your business cards with you everywhere.After all, you never know when you might meet a key contact, and if you don't haveyour cards with you, you lose out.. Take your cards to church, the gym, and parties, be able to mingle.
- Don't sit by people you know. Meal time is a prime time for meeting new people. You may be in that seat for several hours, so don't limit your opportunities by sitting with your friends. This is a wonderful chance to get to know new people on either side of you. Sure, it's more comfortable to be with familiar faces. But remember, you are spending precious time and money to attend this event. Get your money's worth; you can talk to your friends some other time.
- Get active.People remember and do business with leaders. Don't just warm a chair--get involved and join a committee or become a board member. If you don't have time, volunteer to help with hospitality at the door or checking people in. This gives you a reason to talk to others, gets you involved in the inner workings of the group, and provides more visibility.
- Be friendly and approachable. Pretend you are hosting the event. Make people feel welcome. Find out what brought them there, and see if there's any way you can help them. Introduce them to others, make business suggestions or give them a referral. Not only will you probably make a friend, but putting others at ease eliminates self-consciousness. A side benefit: What goes around comes around. If you make the effort to help others, you'll soon find people helping you.
- Set a goal for what you expect from each meeting. Your goals can vary from meeting to meeting. Some examples might be: learning from the speaker's topic, discovering industry trends, looking for new prospects or connecting with peers. If you work out of your home, you may find your purpose is simply to get out and talk to people face to face. Focusing your mind on your goal before you even walk into the event keeps you on target.
- Be willing to give to receive. Networking is a two-way street. Don't expect new contacts to shower you with referrals and business unless you are equally generous. Follow up on your contacts; keep in touch; always share information or Leads that might benefit them. You'll be paid back tenfold for your thoughtfulness.
3. Capacity Building
The term capacity has many different meanings and interpretations depending on who uses it and in what context. To begin with, capacity building as a concept is closely related to education, training and human resource development. This conventional concept has changed over recent years towards a broader and more holistic view, covering both institutional and country base initiatives. And the following definition on capacity building was offered by E. Elliot:
“The development of knowledge, skills and attitudes in individuals and groups of people relevant in design, development, management and maintenance of institutional and operational infrastructures and processes that are locally meaningful”.
This is a broader approach while still focusing mainly on staffdevelopment. It can be argued that the concept of Capacity Building should be viewed in a wider context to include the ways and means by which the overall goals are achieved. In the case of economic empowerment, education and staff development may certainly be one of these means. However, development of institutional infrastructures (including issues such as goodgovernance, decentralization, and public participation) may be even more important.
A recent UN publication on Capacity Assessment and Development (UNDP, 1998) offered the following definition: “Capacity can be defined as the ability of individuals and organizations or organizational units to perform functions effectively, efficiently and sustainably.”
This definition has three important aspects: (i) it indicates that capacity is not a passive state but is part of a continuing process; (ii) ensures that human resources and the way in which they are utilized are central to capacity development; and (iii) it requires that the overall context within which organizations undertake their functions will also be a key consideration in strategies for capacity development. Capacity is the power of something – system, and organization, a person, to perform and produce properly.
The capacity building of the Church in the Global South economically should not be that which makes people too comfortable and forget about God. It must be emphasized here that it is the enabling of the Church to fulfill its ministry and mission in this world and of course to engage the communities philanthropically. This would imply that community projects which are helping people to be economically sustainable will be funded locally and the continuity of such missions and ministry will be guaranteed.
The second aspect capacity building is not only about money in the church but also to capacity build one another with management skills so that we can ably look after the resources properly. At another level capacity building especially for women and the young people in the Global South should happen, by the creation of Training Centers in our Provinces or Dioceses where these people will be given survival skills. We have examples of some of our ecumenical brothers and sisters, Roman Catholic Church through Don Bosco skills Centers which are found in almost every country on the African Continent and some of our young people go to these Centers for skills which will enable them to live and survive. This can also be done by the Church of the Global South without major difficulties. What is required is a will on the part of the leadership of the Church and making use of the professional gifts that God has given to the faithful in the pews.
Capacity building once achieved would lead to the important issues of personal and corporate integrity, transparency and Accountability as part of our stewardship. St Paul talks about being accountable to one another in matters of faith. However, this does not end there, but it is being accountable also to one another how we are using the resources that God has made available to us for our ministries and missions. Once we make such issues as part and parcel of our missions and ministries it will be easier to attain the Economic Empowerment in the Church of the Global South because we will be seen to be faithful Stewards of resources that God may have made available for his missions and ministry.
In conclusion of this paper I would say networking is crucial for the Economic development in the Church of the Global South. Planning, commitment and acquiring of net working skills contributes to the success of networking with other organizations. As the Church in the Global South capacity building is of great importance as it helps us to manage the resources of the Church effectively and efficiently.
“At the heart of Economic Empowerment is a transformed mind- from hopelessness to possibilities, receiving to giving, plunder to investment, a low self-image to confidence, corruption to responsible wealth-creation, governed by a desire to live a life to the glory of God” Economic Empowerment Consultation (Ghana)
The Rt Rev Albert Chama
Dean of The Church of the Province of Central Africa
Q1.Is it true that within the Church of the Global South there is potential for the economic empowerment to be realized?
Q2. What type of partnerships and networking would you like to have with other Provinces or Dioceses within the Church of the Global South and the North?
Q3 .Is capacity building necessary in the Church of the Global South, further, in your own context what areas needs capacity building, where do you think we should go from here in order to achieve economic empowerment?