Why We Do What We Do
If you’ve been following the work of the Chalmers Center for any length of time, you know that we don’t operate in quite the same way as many ministries. Chalmers isn’t an implementing organization that directly helps materially poor people; rather Chalmers equips your church or ministry to help materially poor people more effectively.
To help illustrate this dynamic to our supporters and those we serve, we try whenever possible to share big ideas and stories of how people like you in churches and organizations around the world are putting these ideas into practice.
To that end, at various times, we’ve had a print newsletter and a few iterations of a digital one. Since February of 2019, we’ve focused these efforts on maintaining the blog at chalmers.org (which you’re reading right now!), sharing new posts multiple times each month. Most of what we write here is sent out via a weekly e-mail to our subscribers. Now that we’ve been at this for nearly two years, we’d like to take a moment to spell out for you what the purpose of this space is and how you can most effectively put it to use for your own ministry work.
The big-picture purpose for this blog is the same as all of the books, curriculums, and online trainings the Chalmers Center offers—to equip local churches to address the broken relationships at the root of material poverty, living out Jesus’ kingdom today. While our resources and training take deep dives into principles and practices from a biblical framework for poverty alleviation, what sets the blog apart is that what we share here is A) free of charge, B) focused more on encouragement for ministry than in-depth training, and C) designed to be accessible even for those who have never engaged with us before.
With that in mind, the content you’ll find on our blog is:
- Theological. We believe that the true goal of poverty alleviation is for people to experience human flourishing as they are restored as image-bearers, i.e. as royal priests (1 Pet. 2:8-10) who use their minds, affections, wills, and bodies to enjoy loving relationships with God, self, others, and the rest of creation. This is a much, much bigger vision than simply providing for physical needs, empowering people to work, or offering educational and health services (though it certainly can include all of these things and more!). What we write here is rooted in this goal (which is itself rooted in the big biblical story of creation, fall, redemption, and consummation), so we often appeal to Scripture and the history and practice of the church to make a case for the ideas we share here. What we believe affects everything about how we live, so good work starts with sound theology.
- Practical. In 20 plus years of doing this work, we’ve learned that good intentions aren’t enough. Poverty alleviation is fundamentally relational (see above), and there are plenty of best practices churches and organizations can implement to do this work in healthy ways. Our content here will aim to give you things to act on, referencing and pointing back to the more in-depth trainings we offer as well.
- Story-driven. As we said, our work is successful when you are doing the work in your communities around the world. So we often post stories that partners from various churches and organizations share with us. Not only does this highlight the practitioners who are living out the key principles we teach and show the hope and transformation their communities are experiencing, but it helps make the big ideas we share more accessible and concrete for all of us.
- Timely. While we don’t want to be blown around by every wind of the news cycle, at times, it is appropriate for us to respond to what is going on in the world, applying timeless principles to the present moment—addressing natural disasters, global crises (like COVID-19), or urgent social issues (like ongoing racial injustice in the U.S.)—in ways that larger book or training projects just can’t do.
- Digestible. We try to provide you with big ideas broken down into bite-sized chunks. None of this is in any way “dumbed-down” or less robustly researched and edited than what we put in books and trainings, but it is intentionally served up in smaller portions to help emphasize the various aspects of our ministry principles.
- Shareable. Because the content here is digestible, it is also sharable—the last thing we want is for Chalmers’ blog to be the best-kept secret on the Internet. We want to serve you well, but also to give you tools with which you can quickly and easily challenge and encourage others at your church or in your community to join you in working together for holistic, transformational ministry.
Future Plans and Your Part in the Work
Starting next month, we will be building out the blog with modules based around core ideas or areas of ministry—work and jobs, benevolence and local church community ministry in the U.S., savings groups and ministry in the majority world, helping without hurting principles, etc. We already started down this path with several posts and stories on the importance of holistic financial education ministry (here, here, and here) over the past month. As we flesh out these modules, you’ll start to see the layout of the blog shift to reflect that, and become more searchable, too.
In this, we hope that the blog itself will continue to be a part of our ministry to you, not just as a way to keep in touch, but actual, valuable tools and encouragement for the work of ministry you are engaged in, wherever you are.
So how can you help?
- Spread the word. If you’re not already subscribed to Chalmers’ mailing list, sign up today! Then share our blog posts with your friends, family, and co-laborers in ministry. We are trying to build up a body of work that you can use to help others understand why you want to do ministry the way you do without having to come up with all the right words yourself.
- Suggest ideas. If there are issues you’d really like to see us write about or address in a video or webinar or other format, let us know. We really value hearing from all our ministry partners, so never hesitate to contact us with your questions or suggestions. We are always learning, and we never want to assume that we’ve covered everything there is to know about a given topic.
- Share stories. Though we’ll talk more about this in next week’s post, we want to hear your stories. If your church or ministry has been influenced or supported through our work (whether ideas or programs), we’d love the chance to talk with you and share the ways God is moving in your community as you walk alongside the materially poor for His glory.
Thanks for joining us on this journey. It’s our great joy to walk with you in this way!