Saturday, September 25, 2010

My Interaction With Institutions: Black, White, Asian (RE: New Birth Missionary Baptist Church)

Today I drove my family to Greenville South Carolina so that my children could participate in a Tae Kwon Do competition.

(I will fill in the pictures that I took later on in a future update to this post)

Per my profession as a business analysis I am conditioned to look for the "business model" at work when there is a large gathering of people assembled together.  In the case of this TKD competition I have nothing but respect for the South Koreans that are doing their thing.

It appears that each city has a network of South Korean owned TKD studios.  A "master" sets out on his own to purchase a strip mall based school.  His job is to market his services into the community.   Parents are looking to introduce their kids to a "rites of passage" type program.  This allows their children to grow in confidence and skill.   In exchange the school receives at least $100 per month per student from which a staff of black belts are hired to provide the educational services.

In today's event there was at least 6 different TKD schools represented from SC, NC, VA and GA.  As I walked through the parking lot taking pictures of each of the master's SUV/Vans/Hummers (again I will post the pictures later) - each of them had the total-vehicle graphics advertising their schools.

The first thing I noticed is that each of these schools have an afters school program.  You know that $100 per month that I mentioned?  Add $75 more if you do after school.  This works for me because we had been paying the elementary school that my kids go to $50 per week for after school care.  If their TKD classes were at 5pm - I would have to leave work, drive through rush hour traffic and take them from the elementary school to the TKD.   The $25 more was worth it because they get individual tutoring on their homework from the aides that are assigned.

Once again the South Koreans are attuned to the needs of the American parents (of all races) and just filled a niche and increased their cash flow incrementally.

I am always impressed by these South Koreans during these large tournament events.   All of the school masters congregate together at a central table.  While the black belts that they trained run the tournament - they watch over everything and make sure that everything is run to their standards.  Their black belts are a diverse group.  No doubt, however are the South Koreans over represented per the total population of students.

The Venue For The Tournament

With more than 200 students participating in the tournament the South Korean TKD masters typically seek out the gym facilities of a "full service", White church to house them.   (Or at least this was the case with the 4 events that I have attended over the past 2 years).

Today's church in Greenville had a spraulling campus.  In addition to the church buildings the grounds had several baseball fields and a soccer field.   The gymnasium was large enough to sufficiently host the event.

The "White" churches make use of "collective economics" just the same.   There was no "Greenville City Department Of Recreation" involved in running any of these facilities.  Clearly the church was large enough to prompt their congregation to pool their money together and invest in facilities that their children would ultimately benefit from.  

New Birth Missionary Baptist Church

The church grounds that I visited today in Greenville, SC was about as large as the land that New Birth sits upon in Lithionia Georgia.  I am not sure if New Birth has any private athletic fields but it certainly had a gymnasium and a community center that is capable of holding a large community event.

My goal with this last section is to take the focus off of Bishop Eddie Long and instead focus upon the entity that now stands as a result of the efforts of the 22,000, majority Black congregation that has invested their money into the church pool and has borne fruit.

The reports of Bishop Eddie Long having had over $100,000 in jewelry stolen from him is merely a diversion from the main points that we should be focusing upon.  The fact is that the collective action of this congregation in South Dekalb has build up a massive facility without requesting money from the Dekalb County Board of  Commissioners.   While the present budget situation in Dekalb and most of the nation forced this board to cut back in some of the recreational services that the county provides - New Birth has some of these same facilities to offer to the community yet the church calls the shots as to how these resources are to be used.

My basic point in highlighting this is to make note that we miss the market far too often on the subject of community needs and the funding source.  We either reach out externally for funding as a deliverable in the political game or in the case of the present scandal at New Birth the attackers that were waiting with their rocks to throw are far too often ready to wage a universal condemnation of the "mega church" without noting how many accomplishments they are recognizing via their own collaborative actions.

Long story short - we need to focus on defending the INSTITUTION and its integrity while making sure that this same institution properly adjudicates the ONE MAN who's (alleged) indiscretions has tarnished the institution.  In truth only the same people that built up the institution can materially tear it down.   They can do so if they lose sight of the purpose of the entity.

I recall the chapel that was the home of New Birth prior to them moving into their present home had the following passage written on the wall in bold letters:

Without Vision The People Will Perish .

The main force that threatens the future of the church, far greater than the apparent momentary lack of vision by its pastor is if the PEOPLE in that church community lose their vision.   On the front end they trade the integrity of the church institution for the protection of ONE MAN who they are endeared to.  On the other had as a residual effect of the "grand church battle" that has a great possibility of taking place - the church is no longer a viable concern.

While there are indeed a few notable churches around Atlanta that are presently in bank foreclosure due to economy related shortfalls - we can't blame the hard ball tactics of the greedy banks IF New Birth is splintered between those who seek to defend their pastor and those who seek to defend the integrity of the institution.

If both faction does not make use of the sound religious references that their pastors spoke to them for several decades as their main guide in this instance - it will be proven true that these messages were for naught.  Certain people were in attendance only for the purposes of selfish release of emotion.

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