Posts Tagged churches

Blaming Our Schools Doesn’t Solve Problems –

Blaming Our Schools Doesn’t Solve Problems
By: Mitch Carnell Posted: Wednesday, April 3, 2013 6:02 am Section:’s Latest Articles
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Blaming Our Schools Doesn't Solve Problems | Mitch Carnell, Church, Public School, Community Engagement, Education Rather than constantly berating teachers, churches can provide programs to recognize and reward outstanding teachers, Carnell observes.

I am a product of small-town public schools. As the battles rage over what is wrong with our schools and what makes for a good teacher, I think much can be learned from studying my hometown.Woodruff, S.C., is a small, cotton mill town in the Piedmont region. In my youth, the great majority of people worked in one of the two textile mills and lived in company-owned houses. Many of these workers were refugees from small dirt farms.

Many had never graduated high school; however, they shared one unifying goal. They were determined that their children would live better lives and knew that education was the only solution.

They supported the schools. They turned out for school events although they had worked long hours in the mills, on the surrounding farms or both. They knew the teachers personally. The school was a source of pride.

There is another important ingredient. The church was involved in lifting the level of its children.

My church, Northside Baptist, worked to push its young people forward. Most of all, the congregation encouraged us.

The congregation also supported its pastors in getting more education in summer programs at the seminaries. It valued education.

We had interim pastors from the religion department at Furman University. We held joint services with the Methodist church down the street. If it had a prominent speaker in town, we went to worship with them.

Once when I spoke at our church as a teenager, that Methodist pastor invited me to speak there.

These people were poor in material goods, but they were rich in what matters. They were invested in the lives of their children.

On report card day, as I walked by the parsonage, my pastor, the Rev. Roy Gowan, wanted to see my report card. He was an encourager. I am sure he repeated this over and over again as other children passed by his house.

The old Baptist Training Union gave many of us a great start. We had to read or say our assigned parts. This was the beginning of my public speaking career. Christmas pageants and youth nights at Christmas followed. The adults showed up for these programs.

My high school speech teacher was also the superintendent of schools. “Teaching this class keeps me close to the students,” he said. “I know what they are thinking.”

He also taught a large men’s Bible class at First Baptist Church and invited me to be a guest teacher. These men were very supportive even though they were from a higher socioeconomic status.

I know that times have changed. The church cannot be as involved with the schools as it once was; however, this reality provides a great copout. There is nothing that says that churches cannot provide mentoring programs.

Churches can still provide training programs for their young people. They can provide opportunities for them to practice their skills. Rather than suppress discussion of controversial topics, the church can arrange civil discussions.

The church can provide scholarships to students and teachers. Rather than constantly berating teachers, churches can provide programs to recognize and reward outstanding teachers.

In the ongoing and worsening struggle over bullying, the church should be leading the crusade to curb it. Where are the programs on Christian behavior? Where are the programs on Christians’ responsibilities as citizens?

Where are the counseling programs for troubled youth? Where are the speaking contests, music recitals and essay contests? Where are the Christian parenting courses?

These are tough times economically, but in many churches or in the community there are well-trained volunteers who could and would conduct these programs and many others.

If nothing more, the church could get out of the criticism business and get into the supporting business. Negative sermons are easy to preach and require no preparation.

Ministers can lead the way by demonstrating the power of thorough preparation. Not by littering their sermons with endless quotations, but by demonstrating their mastery of the subject.

Many churches are simply asking the wrong question: What is wrong with our schools, our youth and our teachers?

The right question to address is this: What can we do to improve the lives of our young people?

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The Purpose of Say Something Nice Sunday.

            The 6th annual Say Something Nice Sunday celebration was a huge success as more churches continue to join the movement. There were some superb articles and blogs published. As usual there were some negative articles by those who misunderstand the purpose and believe that we are promoting an easy Christianity. We believe that all people were created by God and thus deserve our respect.

            The purpose of Say Something Nice Sunday is to urge Christians and Christian churches, denominations and groups to honor God with our sacred gift of communication and to build up the Kingdom of God through building each other up with our speech. We recognize that our speech is a reflection of what is in our hearts and ultimately our goal is that we will grow in our love and knowledge of Jesus and of each other. We may differ in our thoughts, opinions and theology but we recognize that we are all creations of the same God and that we are sisters and brothers in Christ.

            We invite all religious groups to join our cause. You need not wait for another year to get started. Start today.

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Thankful Thursday – The Rev. Dr. Loren Mead

On this Thankful Thursday, I am grateful for the gifts that the Rev. Dr. Loren Mead brings to my life. Loren is an Episcopal priest now retired but called back into the trenches by Saint Alban’s Episcopal Church near the Washington Cathedral. He writes a blog, “The Daily Cup.” He grew up in South Carolina and served churches in Moncks Corner and Chapel Hill. In 1974 he founded the Alban Institute and served as its president. The Institute works with troubled churches. He is a graduate of the University of the South and the University of South Carolina. I met him in the summer of 1996 at the Chautauqua Institution where he gave a series of five lectures on, “The Once and Future Church.” I had the great unexpected pleasure of talking with him. He assured me that the Southern Baptists were not the only group being ravaged by fundamentalism. Then he offered me the most profound advice concerning our own local struggles. “Mitch, stay as long as it nourishes you.” Where could you find more sage advice? I followed his recommendation and continue to be nourished by a great and wonderful fellowship. We have reconnected recently and he has given his thumbs up to Say Something Nice Sunday. His latest book is the, Financial Meltdown in Mainline?  He is also an ardent swimmer. On this Thankful Thursday, I am grateful for the influence of Loren Mead in my life.

Thankful Thursday is a day set aside to recognize the importance of someone to our lives and to let her or him know of our gratitude. Develop an attitude of gratitude. Say Something Nice; Be a Lifter. You will be glad that you did.

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How Churches Can Solve the Problem of Bullying

Mitch Carnell
Posted: Tuesday, April 10, 2012 6:20 am

How Churches Can Solve the Problem of Bullying | Mitch Carnell, Kindness, Bullying

People have endured tremendous pressures during the last few years. The workplace has become an even more toxic place, Carnell writes.

Bullying is growing worse at every level. It is present in homes, schools, playgrounds, sports venues and workplaces. It assaults us on television and over radio.

How can the church respond to the growing menace?

The Bible gives ample instructions on how to defeat such poison.

“Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29).

Unfortunately everyone doesn’t read the Bible, and those who do are often the offenders.

There is a solution. What if every church member became a role model for speech that reflects the teachings of Jesus?

When I spoke to a group of pastoral counselors about my book “Say Something Nice; Be a Lifter,” A.C. Holler, a retired chaplain and pastoral counselor, said, “Many people do not know how to pay a compliment. They need to establish a pattern in their brains. You have provided a model.”

Think about his words: “Many people do not know how to pay a compliment.” I would add that many people also do not know how to accept a compliment.

Laying down new pathways is the purpose behind Say Something Nice Day on June 1 and Say Something Nice Sunday on June 3.

We want to make it easy for people to say something nice. Just as important is to encourage people not to say anything negative about another person or any other religious group.

What would be the result if every pastor spoke on June 3 about the power of our words? What if no Christian uttered a negative comment about another person on the same date? What would happen if only uplifting words were uttered on that date? Can you imagine the change in the atmosphere?

As worshippers leave the sanctuary of First Baptist Church of Charleston, S.C., after the services on June 3, each one will be given a daisy with the instructions to give it to a stranger along with a smile and a warm greeting.

People have endured tremendous pressures during the last few years. The workplace has become an even more toxic place.

What would happen to that workplace if Christians did not add to that toxicity? What if Christian managers and supervisors offered truly constructive feedback to their employees? What if the feedback was not destructive or demeaning but truly helpful? Would it change the workplace?

What would happen if every Christian parent said to her or his child as the child left for school, “I want you to say only nice things at school today.”?

What if the parent went further? “Some children will not say nice things back to you, but don’t let that stop you from being nice.”

The situation is serious. Nothing could be further from the truth than the old folk saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”

Words are powerful. They can do permanent damage. They can also be implements for tremendous good. Words have the power to build people up.

What would happen if the prayer in every Christian’s heart on June 3 were the words of the psalmist? “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, oh Lord, my strength and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).

These are a lot of what-ifs, but we are in the what-if business. What if I showed you how to have a better life?

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