Social care is not my problem?
On the way from Middlesbrough to London
I lived in Middlesbrough for five years and during that time I got very involved with the students in the local college. Gradually the number of students coming to our church community increased substantially. A number of the students were doing degrees in social work and we often had long conversations about this issue. Some of them had reached the conclusion that pastoral care was their area of expertise and anything that I did out of care and concern was, in their opinion, outdated and in need of replacing, and I should not be crossing over into their perceived domain.
I thought a lot about these discussions; I did not feel intimidated by their attitudes but did believe I should give it some consideration. Since that time I have developed my knowledge considerably in the area of social care, and also my perceptions, some of which I will now share with you.
It struck me that ‘the followers of Jesus’ in their kingdom seeking, were the main instigators of much good in the areas that I now call the four pillars that hold up, influence and effect change in culture and ultimately his world. The four pillars, I would argue, are what people of the way need for strategy and influence as they pull down kingdom values to affect change for good in society. I seems obvious to me that Paul in the scripture understood the powerful effect of Rome and hence wanted to ‘seek the kingdom’ in Rome!
What are the four pillars?
Media including TV, radio, advertising, hoardings, the web, books, newspapers, magazines, theatre, film and art.
Let us look back on education especially in the UK and consider Robert Rakes from the eighteenth century, (A statue of Raikes was erected on the Victoria Embankment, London in 1880, sculpted by Sir Thomas Brock, R.A., to celebrate the centenary of the Sunday school movement. A statue of Rakes was erected in GloucesterPark fifty years later, in 1930. It is a copy of the Brock statue.) Rakes founded Sunday school, and let us be clear, the origins of Sunday school was not as many know it or imagine it today, it was in fact an educational programme to teach children to read and write, and Sunday was the only day they could attend. Of course he wanted them to understand the bible, but primarily it was an educational programme.
In politics who could forget William Wilberforce in 1805 and the abolition of slavery in the UK by parliament; trend setting, ground breaking, kingdom values being put in place.
In media there was a tendency to discourage young Christians from getting involved, what a tragedy. The media is a powerful moulder of our culture, influencing far beyond what we give it credit for. People of the way need to get involved and stay involved. I take my hat off to people like Dan Wooding and Assist News who constantly disseminate good honest information for the whole of the press world.
In business there a numerous fantastic trend setters, people who were ahead of their time, seeking justice and presenting a value system that hadn’t been seen before. Take the Cadbury brothers for example, they constructed their factory in a garden to enhance their workers well-being and invited workers to have a voice on the board. This was unheard of and radical at the time. Where did such ideas come from? I would argue kingdom values.
When the new factory was built at Bournville it had many facilities which were unknown in Victorian times – properly heated dressing rooms; kitchens for heating food; separate gardens for men and women as well as extensive sports fields and women’s and men’s swimming pools. Sports facilities included football, hockey and cricket pitches, tennis and squash racquet courts and a bowling green. Country outings and summer camps were organised. Special workers’ fares were negotiated with the railway company and 16 houses were built for senior employees.
Morning prayers and daily bible readings, first started in 1866 to preserve a family atmosphere, were not abandoned until 50 years later, when the size of the workforce was too large for such an assembly. George Cadbury was a housing reformer interested in improving the living conditions of working people. In 1895 he bought 120 acres near the factory and began to build houses in line with the ideals of the Embryo Garden City movement. Motivation for building the Bournville Village, George Cadbury wanted to provide affordable housing in pleasant surroundings for wage earners. http://www.cadbury.co.nz/About-Cadbury/The-Story-of-Cadbury/The-Story-of-Cadbury—Continued.aspx
What has all this to do with my chats with social care students in Middlesbrough? A great deal, those discussions were, I believe, a catalyst for molding much of my thinking since then. I remember when I moved to London, I was driving down the M1 and talking to God, I said ‘I would really like a million pounds or so Lord, I would like to see those early things re-established, I want your followers to move into those influential areas that change our culture, I want to be ‘salt’ and ‘light’ seeking to influence and show new directions in some or all of these important strategic areas’.
I had a passion to be involved in these areas, and I wanted to encourage people who knew God and had similar passions to seek to draw down God’s kingdom into these areas. I had almost forgotten that conversation with God, but he listened and answered and the millions came and we spent it on buildings, employment, business start-ups, housing and schools. How the money came is another story, or perhaps many stories, but I am still seeing the influence in the areas of the four pillars. I want to see others catch the vision, and realize that that is where we need to seek the kingdom.
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Editor A. Brookes