Baptcare: Case study

Context

Baptcare is a not-for-profit social care organisation based in Victoria and Tasmania, Australia. Emerging as an amalgamation of local initiatives undertaken independent Baptist churches over the last seventy years, it has become the primary focus of practical help for the vulnerable and marginalized by the Baptist tradition of Christianity in that part of the world.

Task and Response

In 2013, the Baptcare Board directed its Mission Development arm to ensure that Baptcare becomes, and remains ‘faith-centred’. To that end it was proposed that Baptcare invite its key leaders to engage with this dimension to the organisation so as to find a common inclusive narrative for the benefit of everyone in its diverse workforce and varied constituency.

The Shoreline Consultancy was invited to create a suitable evocative resource as a stimulus to creative conversations around this sometimes difficult subject in order to enable leaders to bring to life Baptcare’s DNA as an faith-based organisation. In response Mark Davis designed and resourced a conversational process for their use and also provided skilled facilitation in helping groups of leaders engage in this enquiry.

The whole process was entitled “Glimpses of Baptcare” and involved:

  • Researching Baptist spiritual tradition as it has been expressed in the Australian context.
  • Drawing out from the story a number of key themes, which seemed characteristic of this pattern of Christian living.
  • Checking with relevant stakeholders to see if these themes were both relevant and resonant.
  • Translating these themes into language which would be accessible to those without a background in the Baptist culture from which it emerged.
  • Creating a series of booklets around each theme comprising carefully chosen images and readings to both illustrate the theme and provide a basis for conversation.
  • Devising a two-hour conversational process within which this aspect of the spirituality of the organization could be explored.
  • Providing a skilled facilitator to accompany groups of leaders who could then reflect and converse about the significance of these themes to the organisation as a whole and their particular role in leadership.

There were seven conversations and the themes chosen were:

  1. Diversity Embraced
  2. Every Person Cherished
  3. Drawn to the Margins
  4. Local Expression
  5. Actions Speak Louder
  6. The Touchstone (the person of Jesus Christ)
  7. The Extra Mile

Outcomes

In early 2015 a pilot was undertaken both by the Executive team and a group of senior managers. A process of review and evaluation was then embarked upon. The feedback from the pilot groups was very positive and so the intention is to invite 100 key leaders, over 3 years, to undertake this conversation series.

The benefits which are beginning to emerge include:

  • A clear statement that Baptcare seeks to be a ‘faith-based organisation’ that is spiritual in focus and deeply inclusive.
  • A clear statement of Baptist themes that express our unique DNA.
  • A formation process where it is possible for participants to make Baptcare’s DNA their own in a personalised and relaxed way.
  • A process that is collaborative and gracious in itself reinforcing Baptcare’s DNA
  • A lateral tried and tested way to truly engage with spirituality with integrity in the workplace.