Challenges in Christian Community Development in the Philippines

Challenges to Christian
Community Development
(CCD) in the Philippines
By Robert Munson
This presentation briefly summarizes a
paper written based on interviews
with church and mission leaders in
the Philippines in 2007, supported
additionally by literary sources.
Three Categories of Challenges
 Within the Philippine Church
 Within the Philippine Context
 Non-contextual Challenges
Within the Philippine
Church Context
 Bad Theology
 Lack of Resources
 Different Focus
 Lack of Example
Bad Theology
 Sacred versus the Secular
(Church should only do
“sacred things”)
 “Separatism” (The church
should not stain itself with the
concerns of this world.)
Theology: 3. Contextualization
 Wholism is a Western creation
leading toward standard Western
 No good Filipino books describing
what wholistic ministry should be in
the Filipino church.
 Result? Little actual Filipino-based
wholistic community development.
Most comes from outside.
Theology: 4. Individualism
Evangelical churches tend to
focus on individual change.
They tend to ignore other
social units.
The community is either
considered unimportant, or
Theology: 5. Apocalypticism
Many evangelical churches assume that
Jesus will return very soon. Because of this
they tend to do short-term ministries.
Now, if Jesus was returning next week, we
probably should be doing mass crusades.
However, if Jesus is returning in 200 years,
we should be creating communities
conformed to God’s kingdom that conforms
people to Christ for generations.
Lack of Resources
 Financial and Material.
 Lack of Trained Human
Focus on Relief
Churches focus on doing relief,
not development.
Tied to poor theology and to
lack of resources.
Rhodora Mendoza, Head of HCDI
“Community Development work in the
Philippines is done by GOs and NGOs.
Churches and aid organizations are mostly
relief-oriented. Seldom can you find them
doing ‘real’ community development work…
One challenge is to instill in the people
ownership of the program and to do
something to improve their lives since most
people, especially in poor communities, are
relief-oriented and the church, or most
church-initiated projects, are doing just that.”
Lack of Example
Most community development is
 Loosely partnered with a church
 Disconnected from the church
Rey Abellera, Head of One Hope
“When we talk to the students or go to
the churches and talk about doing
community development, they want to
see where this has been done before.
I don’t have an answer for them.
Therefore, we have to be the
Within the Philippine
Cultural Factors
Historical Factors
Cultural Factor: “Utang na Loob”
Community development needs to create
interdependency within a community.
Utang na Loob works against this.
 It prevents growth
 Promotes dependency
 Creates “Rice Christians”.
Cultural Factor: “Bahala na”
“Bahala na works against Individual and social
progress, … It harnesses one’s behavior to a
submissiveness that eats up one’s sense of
responsibility and personal independence. It
provides one with a false sense of selfconfidence to proceed with an unsound action in
the belief that somehow one will manage to get
-Tomas D. Andres (quoted by Tereso Casino)
Cultural Factor: Bahala na
 Has roots in Animism, Hinduism, Islam,
and Catholicism.
 Sounds Christian (“Let Thy will be done”)
 It is not Christian to confuse impersonal
fate with personal God.
Historical Factor: COMDEV History
 COMDEV began in the Philippines as
government programs. (PACD)
 Foreign Governments, NGOs, and
International Agencies became involved.
 The Evangelical Church has only gotten
involved through the parachurch.
Historical Factor: Government
 Filipinos believe much of their government
is corrupt.
 It is not the reality of this corruption that
matters so much as the perception of this
 Churches assume that government is nonresponsive and corrupt. Therefore, they
don’t work with them.
Historical Factor: Private Org Track
 NGOs, Mission Groups, and other groups
have a poor record.
 They often act on a flawed theology and a
flawed priority.
 This track record makes governments and
communities untrusting.
Non-Contextual Issues
 Money
 Uncertain role of Social
 Fragmentation
 Leadership
Money: Dependency
Glenn Schwarz has pointed out that if rich
countries simply giving money to poor
communities worked, “then Haiti should be
a shining example of development in our
Dependency looks a lot like development,
yet is the opposite.
Money: Economic Focus
Is economic development always a
good thing?
Can money, businesses, and
materials lead to community
Money: Scarcity of Monetary
 It is more than perception… it is
 It is a worldwide problem.
 But scarcity is not always a bad
Uncertain Role of Social Ministries
 Spiritualist View
 “Social Gospel”
 Convenience View
 Ulterior Motive View
 Wholistic View
Attitudes regarding CD
 Immaturity of Partners
 Lack of Shared Vision
 Power
 True Community Development means that
communities take over ownership.
 Indigenous leaders must “catch the vision”
and be trained.
 Leadership from outside of the community
needs to develop an exit strategy.
 The “datu” mindset often sabotages
Is CCD a waste of time?
The church has value in community
 Provides opportunity for contextualized
spiritual message in the community, and
catalyst for spiritual transformation.
 (Should) Provide an example of a
functional interdependent community.
 It is incarnational. In the community.
 Provide indigenous leadership for the
Is Christian Community
Development harder here than in
other countries?
 Barangay System
 Catholicism
 Pakikisama/Bayanihan
Challenges to Christian
Community Development
(CCD) in the Philippines
By Robert Munson
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