Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Faith-Based Development: How Christian Organizations Can Make a Difference

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Faith-Based Development: How Christian Organizations Can Make a Difference

Article excerpt

Faith-Based Development: How Christian Organizations Can Make a Difference. By Bob Mitchell. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 2017. XXV + 229 pp. $26.00 (paper).

Mitchell's training as a lawyer and as a priest show in a text that is both carefully outlined and thoroughly imbued with theological references and rationale. Each of the sixteen brief chapters (average length, eleven pages) has labeled subsections with obvious and logical relationships to the theme of the chapter. This makes it easy to read and to understand the point being made.

The point of the book is that faith-based organizations (FBOs) should function so as to retain their original core of faith orientation as they pursue their operations. Mitchell mentions that in their desire for income from secular sources FBOs often secularize themselves, and the element of faith is weakened and becomes peripheral. This, Mitchell says, diminishes their ability to accomplish their mission(s). Firmly rejecting proselytizing, he illustrates the importance and means of intentional staff-practiced spirituality. At the outset, Mitchell demonstrates that the majority of the world population identifies with some faith, and that faith organizations combined constitute the largest enduring worldwide and local institutional networks. As a result, FBOs have a ready "distribution network" for their development activities. That enduring reality means that FBOs are well suited to long-term development, while secular groups tend to engage more short-term projects.

While acknowledging that there are situations in which religious doctrines and development goals are in conflict (for example, doctrines regarding contraception, versus the limitation of population growth), Mitchell illustrates ways in which FBOs can sensitively cooperate with local faith organizations. His examples and explanations provide useful specifics and principles.

Mitchell identifies the audience for this book as the leaders of FBOs, the grassroots workers in FBOs, and professionals in the secular development community. …

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