Part 1: What is “Do Good, Plus Do No Harm” About?

1. What is “Do Good, Plus Do No Harm” About?

“Answer Balance” © Scott Maxwell. Fotolia #7281912. Licensed to Brad Sargent/futuristguy.

“Answer Balance” © Scott Maxwell. Fotolia #7281912. Licensed to Brad Sargent/futuristguy.

Do Good, Plus Do No Harm. Did you wonder where the title for this book came from?

While the theme hearkens back nearly 2,500 years to the Hippocratic oath, the expansion of details comes from my own personal experiences – some delightfully constructive and others woefully destructive. Continue reading

Part 2: The “What, So What, and Now What”

2. The “What, So What, and Now What”

of This Training Curriculum

Building blocks, benefits, and next steps.

“Balancing Gears” © Scott Maxwell. Fotolia #9081260. Licensed to Brad Sargent/futuristguy.

“Balancing Gears” © Scott Maxwell. Fotolia #9081260. Licensed to Brad Sargent/futuristguy.

Sources for Answering Questions on How To Do Good Better

When it comes to doing better at doing good, I find much to learn from immersion service experiences, as I’ll share in the final section of this chapter. I also learn a lot by connecting ancient history and alternative, “speculative history” – otherwise known as science fiction. I’ll periodically bring up points from history, and also from Young Adult Literature (YAL), especially sci-fi and dystopian novels. (As a futurist, I often find YAL to be 15 to 20 years ahead of the mainstream curve in what social trends they explore.) Indulge me for a moment while I draw together a few threads from sci-fi and history to share a key reason I created this entire curriculum.

Continue reading

Part 3: The “What If …?”

3. The “What If …?”

What could things look like in a world of respect where we confront abuse?

“Gold Guy Team On Life Preserver” © Scott Maxwell. Fotolia #14472111. Licensed to Brad Sargent/futuristguy.

“Gold Guy Team On Life Preserver” © Scott Maxwell. Fotolia #14472111. Licensed to Brad Sargent/futuristguy.

What could a world of good look like? Let me begin that practice with what solidified my understanding of doing good, plus doing no harm. I’ll start with those two mostly negative experiences, and then share the contrasting positive one.

Continue reading

What Do “Safe” Versus “Abusive” Environments for Personal and Social Transformation Include?

Someone working on a research project recently asked me for my definition or description of “spiritual abuse” and how I would “measure” the levels of abuse and recovery that a person experienced. I’ll get to that task eventually, as it is part of my own research work on metrics of transformation.

But, to answer my researcher friend, I realized that first I needed to figure out the contours of what makes a system conducive to either constructive growth or to harm. A quickee checklist of abusive actions would be meaningless for measuring the degree of destructive impact from spiritual abuse. At the least, a workable checklist needs a reasoned and relatively comprehensive theory behind it. If we’ve developed a clear context for said checklist, that makes it possible to interpret the abusive actions, not just observe their presence. And my intuitive hunch is that a systems approach will also make measurement more possible for the overall negative impact or positive recovery from abuse.

So, I started by mentally cataloging what I have concluded a “safe” and “healthy” environment looks like – and then how the elements in that system get corrupted through “abuse” and “power-lust.” I also ran all of that through the grid of the book I’m writing about how to measure the qualitative impact of personal and social efforts for transformation. (We too often look at only the quantitative elements, like dollars and hours spent and the number of people at our activities. But those really only indicate our investment in the opportunity to possibly make changes – not the changes themselves.)

This all meant my approach to what’s “healthy” needed to include frameworks I use, like paradigm systems and quadruple bottom line thinking for achieving goals for the common good. (The definitions of these frameworks come in earlier parts of the book, but I’ll at least sketch them out here.) So, what follows is the overview of safe versus abusive systems that came out of that process. It’s still rough and needs more work, but it’s getting there.

Continue reading

Huge News on Curriculum Project

Huge news here. FINALLY – I have the first drafts done on the ENTIRE series of 6 books in my Opal Design Systems curriculum! It’s all about developing safe and sustainable transformational ministries in our postmodern, pluralistic, post-Christendom culture. This first-draft stage took 5 years for filing off the excess and writing to fill in gaps to make the series as accessible as possible, keep to the essentials, and amplify it with media (graphs, charts, graphic art illustrations, immersion learning exercises, and movie case studies that show the ideas in action).

Part of what kept extending the timeframe on the project was that I had to get all 6 books done at the first-draft stage before I could go back through in order, #1 through #6, for the last round of editing. (Even for people like me who are predominantly random in our learning styles, some things just do have to be done in sequence!)

So, after I complete a long and lingering list of small to-do items in the next few days, I’ll start the FINAL editing on Books #1 and #2 on July 10th. Planning to work part-time on them the next 4 months, getting them revised, reviewed, and ready for print-on-demand publishing.

NOTE: I will be off-line and unplugged a lot, from now through October. So if you email or message me and don’t get a quick answer, that’s why.

Hopefully, my next major update will have news on how to order these books! Meanwhile, thanks so much to those who have been praying I would have stamina and encouragement on this project, and to those who’ve supported me in many ways behind the scenes. I started this curriculum in 1991, I’m almost done, and now seems the timing is providentially ripe for the content to be relevant. Huzzah! Hoorah! Hooray!

And have a great summer all y’all …

Thoughts on the Missional Movement ~ Part Nine

The Fragmentation of Evangelicalism
and the Precipitation of the Missional Movement

Part Nine: How These Frameworks Play Out in Our Overall Attitudes, Styles of Interaction, and Community Connections

Review and Preview

In Parts Seven and Eight, we looked at two key issues in how the organizations we create either enhance or hinder discipleship.

  • Access to Discipleship Systems – Is our entry/intake system radically inclusive, temporarily tolerant, or radically exclusive?
  • Discipleship Activities – Is our discipleship system grounded in license, liberty, or legalism?

Another way to consider these concerns is how they work (or don’t) to keep people in the game, so to speak. Have we established an open system, a “centered set” that enhances cooperation around what the Holy Spirit is doing in someone’s life, to keep people engaged and cooperating with God’s principles and His providence? Or have we created a closed system, a “bound set” that creates a competitive environment to shut out and shun those who don’t measure up to “God’s standards” (a term we often use to hide our own idolatrous ideals)?

In Part Nine, we’ll look at some details of how these open or closed systems affect individuals, relationships for peers or partner organizations, and community dynamics – again, using images to illustrate the concepts. Continue reading

Thoughts on the Missional Movement ~ Part Eight

The Fragmentation of Evangelicalism
and the Precipitation of the Missional Movement

Part Eight: The Big Picture of Features and Frameworks in Our Discipleship Systems – Approaches to Discipleship Activities


In Part Seven, we considered what it looks like to be a congregation that either welcomes, conditionally accepts, or rejects specific kinds of individuals or groups who do (or might) want to follow Jesus Christ as His disciple. That was about access to discipleship. In Part Eight, we’ll look at these approaches’ potential companion parts in discipleship activities and their focuses. Continue reading