This piece by Mercy Survivor Anna was originally published on her blog “External Mercy” and can be viewed here.
A review of Mercy Multiplied’s Guidelines for Establishing a Residential Counseling Ministry.
Mission is the topic of the next bit of the Guidelines Manual from Mercy Multiplied. Once again we have some fairly good advice (although nothing that I didn’t find when I googled these sorts of key words). They talk about a “values-based mission statement” and emphasize that this is what can be used to inspire materials and used as a “talking point” when recruiting volunteers. They also say it should be the core of speeches and presentations. I find it just a bit strange that these are the first points they make about a mission statement.
I think of a mission statement as being the heart of an organization…that serves to inspire the people within the organization and keep the organization on track. I don’t know that my first thought is that a mission statement is good for (basically) fundraising, but then again there’s a lot in this manual overall that seems to have way more to do with fundraising and creating an organization than it has to do with any sort of interaction with the people who are supposedly going to be served.
True, you need to fundraise because you need money to do pretty much anything, but if Mercy Multiplied’s got this amazing monopoly on the “only” thing that works to fix all these problems like they claim, shouldn’t that sort of thing be in this manual? I mean, you can get advice on fundraising from anywhere. Is the secret to Mercy Multiplied amazing work with young women actually their fundraising? Is this the advice and guidance they’ve gained through their vast experience of taking people whose lives were a complete mess and making them into a neat little box complete with a ribbon on top? Why are we even talking about fundraising and promotional materials at this point? Shouldn’t we at least talk about the individuals that are to be served and what they might need and how best to go about offering that? Those things seem to be minor details when it comes to establishing a residential counseling ministry at least from what Mercy Multiplied has shared so far.
Next they go through specific steps to creating a values-based mission statement. And when I say specific steps, I mean SPECIFIC steps. Like a one two three how to list that a five year old could follow complete with what to tell people to write down and to have one person write this all up on a large board and making sure that you’re using the correct verb tense. Do I think that it’s wrong to list specific steps? No…but it’s not like this is novel information to well, anyone. Remember too that it hasn’t even been suggested that perhaps consulting social work, counseling, psychology, psychiatry, or even medical professionals, but they’re being very sure to write out in a “simon says” sort of instructions how to write a mission statement. Perhaps my expectations are higher for the individuals who might be reading this manual than the authors thought, but if you have to get step by step instructions on how to create a mission statement, don’t you think that maybe, just maybe these individuals are probably not ready to be opening a residential counseling ministry? I’d love to give Mercy Multiplied the benefit of the doubt and think, well, it’s just common sense that you would consult professionals who work with the populations you are wanting to serve, but they leave me no room to do that when they specifically spell out something that in my opinion is so much less important. I don’t know though, maybe the secret to Mercy Multiplied’s supposed success (unbelievable some may even say) is that they used the proper form of the verb in their mission statement brainstorming session. This is obviously important enough to take up some of the very limited 41 pages (and in that 41 pages I’m counting the title page for each section that has just the sections title on it…now if we want to talk about people giving grace, I’d say that’s pretty gracious of me). Remember this document contains the information to share the “depth of experience [their] remarkable team brings” and to explain “fundamental functions” for the establishment of this kind of ministry.
Is vision and mission important? Absolutely. The worrisome thing is that Mercy Multiplied seems to think this is all it takes to make people qualified to care for individuals with life-threatening medical and mental illnesses? I know it sounds almost humorous…as if the best response would be to roll your eyes and laugh at the idea, but these are the people who are running residential treatment centers for individuals with eating disorders, psychiatric disorders, abuse histories, suicidality and histories of suicide attempts, self-harm, drug addictions, and anything else they can think of…these are real people who are using these principles to take care of young women who are being told that they are qualified to do so and have an insanely high success rate to back their claims up. There are real people who are being offered “free help” from people who think that this is what it takes to establish a residential counseling ministry.
Let’s take a little side trail to an analogy. What if this were a manual about how to establish an accounting firm? What if they never said anything about needing there to be people who know anything about accounting? What if they emphasized that what’s really important to establish a good accounting firm is that you have a good mission statement and to use to recruit people to do book work? How would you feel about taking your taxes to an accounting firm that has decided that they won’t be licensed or certified by the government because they don’t want anything to keep them from giving you the keys to become prosperous which they solely have discovered? Would you take your taxes to an accounting firm that offers “Bible-based” accounting leaders who instead of being certified public accountants or having experience in the financial field have instead gone through the firms special two week course on the new financial principles that they’ve found that are nine times more effective than those of certified or experienced accountants? Would you like that accounting firm to do your taxes? Would you hand over all your company and personal finances and just trust that they’ll take care of all of it as God tells them to? Would you worry at all that you might have to pay penalties and fines because they didn’t do things properly? What if there were stories of people taking their taxes there that have years later still been trying to undo the damage that the firm’s lack of qualification had caused them? What if no one could do anything to hold them accountable because they aren’t a “real” accounting firm so they don’t answer to any certification boards or ethics rules or minimum quality standards? What if they blew off any criticism by saying that they “meant well” or that their “hearts were in the right place”? What if they said that having good intentions provides magical insight and training that qualifies them to be accountants…or counselors, or directors of residential treatment centers?
Would you be okay with them doing YOUR taxes? Is that a risk you’d be willing to take? Don’t worry about it though…I mean, it’s not like Mercy Multiplied’s doing anybody’s taxes–they’re just caring for people with mental illnesses…illnesses that people die from…no big deal, right?