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Honorary doctorate for church transformation 

Baptist minister the Revd Steve Chalke has been recognised by a major university for driving change in how the church empowers communities to deliver social justice

Steve Chalke Staffordshire UniSteve, founder of Christian charity Oasis, has been awarded a ‘Doctor of Arts’ by Staffordshire University. The university says it bestows honorary degrees "upon individuals who have made special contributions or achieved notable success in their field."

The university described Steve as "a champion of social justice."
 
When introducing the award, Peter Twilley, Senior Lecturer in Youth Community and Regeneration, said:
 
'Steve has had a lifelong commitment to these issues. At the age of 14 he committed himself to opening a school, a hospital and a hostel and it was out of this vision for social justice and the belief that faith should be rooted in action, leading to social justice, that Oasis, was born. In 1985 Steve established the Oasis charity and remains at the heart of the Oasis movement today.
 
'From that small beginning Oasis now includes a family of organisations that are pioneering education, housing, health care and other initiatives to combat social injustice both in this country and across the world. Steve is known around the world as a prominent broadcaster, leading Christian thinker and social-activist.
 
'Steve has challenged Churches and faith motivated organisations to serve the needs of their local communities and adopt an agenda of radical inclusion and the themes of engagement, equality, inclusion and compassion flow through his many books, broadcasts and publications.'
 
Responding to the award, Steve was quick to praise those who have worked alongside him over the years. He said, 'I don’t have an O-Level to my name and all of a sudden I’m a doctor! It goes without saying that it’s a privilege to be honoured this way by Staffordshire University. 
 
'I realise however that – while a great personal honour – the award is really a reflection of the work that countless individuals across Oasis have poured into our mission of creating communities where everyone can reach their God-given potential over the past 30 years. 

'It’s also testament to the fact that deep and embedded learning doesn’t just come from reading books and writing essays. Ensuring that academic learning is rooted in gritty, practical experience is the only way to obtain the depth of knowledge and understanding that leads to real and lasting change.'

 
Steve Chalke’s top five tips on achieving deep learning through action and practical service:

  • Understand your ‘natural’ learning style – We each have a natural learning style.  Some tend to be ‘activists’, others ‘reflectors’’ others still ‘theorists’ with a love of concepts and some are ‘pragmatists’ who make assessments based on the immediate realities.  It is important to understand what your natural style is. 
  • Get out of your comfort zone – We all need aspects of each of these styles to achieve a true depth of learning.  Therefore once you have understood your learning style, go out of your way to over-emphasise the others.  For example if you are a theorist by nature, make sure you are pushing yourself to be as active as possible.  If you tend more toward an ‘activist’ mentality, take time to build periods of intentional reflection into your diary. 
  • Be intentional – As busyness increases, it’s easy to slip into auto pilot.  Push yourself to be a life-long learner. 
  • Seek perspective with other people –To really grow in knowledge you need the input of other people.  Not only can other people add wisdom, if given permission, but they can help you take a step back from the activity you are immersed in and help you gain a sense of perspective. 
  • Don’t wait until your idea is perfect – So often I hear people talk about brilliant ideas they want to try but don’t want to implement it until they are confident they won’t make any mistakes.  I’m afraid life doesn’t work like that!  Of course forward thinking and planning are important, but if you wait for the perfect idea or ideal circumstances, I’m afraid nothing’s ever going to happen.  Yes, you’ll make mistakes – but that’s the way to learn. 

 

Baptist Times, 21/07/2015
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