Friday, February 17, 2006

To "Affiliate" or not to "affiliate"?

There is a lot of productive "dia-blog" (I just made that up!) going on on other blogs which I've read with interest. My friend Larry asked for input and recieved a fair amount, so I thought I'd try my hand at it.

At our church we have been presented an opportunity to "affiliate" with a well-known national youth organization for the purpose of running an after-school program. Our building would be the envy of many, but it is severely underutilized (many factors here - a discussion for another time). This organization has the deep pockets and the ready-made program. We have started the discussion and most everyone (the organizations leadership, the mayor, our Advisory Board, and me, to a certain extent) is excited about moving forward.

My problem comes in the fact that, even just today, I've begun questioning whether or not it's a good move for the Corps. No doubt the program will bring dozens, if not hundreds, of youth through our doorway that probably would not darken it otherwise. We are working on a plan to bridge the gap from that program to our other youth ministries. Developing anything like the programming of this affiliation on our own would mean engaging leaders and spending money we simply do not have.

I wonder, though, if it is the right move for us. Is it possible that a great program like this, with most things seeming to fall into place, will be a move away from our Mission Statement focus? Would it be compromise to associate so closely with an organization that shares our concerns for kids well-being, but deviates from the core value at stake - an introduction to Jesus?

Or do I just have cold feet?


At 11:31 PM, Anonymous Curtis said...

I don't think partnering with other private organizations is at all wrong or bad as long as we remember that the reason we do any kind of social service is to minister. We partner with other orgs to hand out food (as part of a city-wide coalition), so why not partner with another org to bring kids into our building?

Partnering doesn't mean we have to lose focus on our mission. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that partnering can enhance the focus on our mission.

Of course, there's a big caveat that if the org we're partnering with has a mission diametrically opposed to ours, then we should be careful about partnering with them. I mean, we wouldn't want to have, say, gym night sponsored by The Salvation Army and Hitler's Youth or anything. But if you're talking about the org I think you're talking about, then I'd say we're good on that account.

Also, see Mark 9:40.


At 8:09 AM, Blogger Larry said...


I assume you are talking about the Boys' and Girls' Club. If you are, we have a national agreement with them. I have a brother who has one at the corps where he is the corps officer. There are protections in that agreement.

I have found where it does not work, it is because soldiers and officers have not been active in volunteering and making it a mission program. That has been the experience in the South as well.

Partnering can be a good thing. We had a pretty good community center in Rome about 12 years ago. It was an attempt to resurrect an outreach to kids. I hope it can happen again.

At 6:09 PM, Blogger HilaryCW said...

In my humble opinion, I think we need to be sure to not give over any control of what takes place. It would be too easy for our Corps to quickly become The Boys & Girls Club of Rome. It would have to be clear, to teh community, to the club, to the corps people, that this is a corps program that is reaching out to the community through the B&G club. It's tricky, I'm sure, as I've never really been involved in something like this. But I think it will be very important for us to not lose sight of who we are and for the community to get us confused.

What is the agreement we have with that Org? what 'protections' are involved? Why are you questioning it exactly? pinpoint your concerns.

At 5:47 AM, Blogger Tim said...


I write this not having any idea who this organization is. So I have to take your word for it that they are solid.

To me, the gospel Jesus lived and preached was one that met people’s needs; spiritual, physical, and emotional. To me, if this program you’re talking about is able to meet their emotional needs, then that frees you up to build relationships with them for meeting their spiritual needs. Unless I’m crazy, this is the same approach the apostles used when they decided to put somebody else in charge of the soup kitchen. The responsibility is on you and your Corps, however, to actually be a part of this program and build those relationships.

Here in London, many of our Corps work in partnership with an organization called Sure Start. It is absolutely non-religious in nature. But many of our people volunteer for the programme (including officers) and, in one case, the young women who heads it up is also a paid staff member of the Corps. This relationship has been used to build relationships with young people and parents and, as a result, has contributed to a large number of new young people and parents joining our Corps.

A program like this can be nothing but a building filler, unless you determine and commit to making it more. But it will require your Corps’ commitment and involvement in some way. Bare in mind, even acts of service during this time (making coffee and tea) can lead to conversations that lead to conversion. But you have to be (wait for it) intentional about it.

At 6:15 PM, Blogger Susan McElroy said...

Hey you...with two "t"'s....I think that if you have sought the Lord through the decision making process and He has opened all the doors...walk through! We have a Community is not a Boys and Girls Club..however, we partner with MANY organizations who come in and work with our kids. We are also building bridges between the corps and the community center. So it really can be a FABULOUS thing!!

At 9:16 PM, Blogger Dave Anderson said...


First and foremost what is the Lord telling you and what is he confirming through others in your congregation.

As I think and pray about your situation I am reminded that it is our job to build the bridge and let Jesus do the rest.

At 11:14 PM, Blogger bedemike said...

Thanks, all, for helping us along this path. You're input is valuable and impactful to me.

At 9:45 AM, Blogger Dave C said...


Like Larry, the first thing I thought of was the Boys and Girls Club. In both of our corps apopintments Trista and I were looking at whether to procede the same way. We just weren't there, in either place long enough to finish the work. It works very well in Lexington, KY. You just need the corps members to help with and the employees to understand the Mission.

In His Grip,

At 6:39 PM, Blogger Jonathan Russell said...

Hey Brett, this is Jonathan Russell, long time. I hear your dilema and would like to weigh in with my opinion, for what it's worth. Assuming this is an upstanding organization and in no way compromises the doctrines of the Army, I think that you should use this as a tool to bring in kids that would otherwise not come into contact church and the Lord. In todays day and age, I kind of feel like this is similar to William Booth's feed their bodies then feed their soul (I'm sure Bill used better words than those:)) The programs will bring them in, and they will ultimately be exposed to Christian people and hopefully, the work. If make the most of this opportunity to expose kids to the Army, Church, Christ, then the rest will fall into place. I think this is a great way to bring people in and keep the focus of the mission.

At 10:22 AM, Blogger Mhairi said...


do you have any solid reasons for having cold feet? Can you put your "cold feet" down on paper?

In my very opinionated opinion - go until you get an amber (yellow as the US says it, I think!) light, and then proceed with caution until you get the full red. At that point, call it a day.
Good luck!

At 8:04 PM, Blogger Allison said...

What did you think of the weekend?

At 11:03 PM, Blogger Susan McElroy said...

Hey, saw the picture of the ETS in the War must have been standing in a ditch...:) That or you have shruck prematurely!! How is the group coming together? What kind of stuff do you sing? We are in a transition state in the south. The leader of our songster brigade resigned but we are not sure who the new leader will be. We should find out in June. Hope you all had a good weekend!! By the way, do you know anyone in the East who is going to Christian Management Association Conference in Denver next week???

At 8:37 PM, Blogger bedemike said...

Allison -

I thought the weekend was great - Saturday night a highlight. You're youth chorus blew me away - nice work to all of you.

At 8:42 PM, Blogger bedemike said...

Zanalice -

I literally was standing in a ditch. I'm not shrinking yet.

The group is good, I think. We sing a varied repetoire, mostly Army publications. Fair amount of gospel-type music, which everybody is doing now, at least up here. Bill has some old favorites which are nice to sing/hear again - "Joy Because of You," for one. The instrumentalist add alot - Gavin Whitehouse, Steve Ditmer, Rick Davenport - nice group.

The weekend was very good - recommend to the good Doctor for a Southern version. Can't beat Len as a guest...if I'm not available ;-)

At 9:15 AM, Blogger Bret said...


Great question. In what ways would the program interfere with the Corps? I would make sure this organization understands our mission of making disciples and I would set clear boundaries so that the program doesn’t interfere.

I think that we find ourselves wrestling with “turf issues” sometimes. I have struggled with this in the past. If this is a factor, try to identify some of the “issues” and work with the group to iron those out.

Want you’ve written sounds like a great opportunity. Collaboration is a good thing. People/funding sources in the community like to see organizations working together.

By the way, I’m Bret with one “t”:) Good to meet you.



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