About Mike Rusch

Based in Downtown Bentonville, Arkansas, Mike is the Chief Executive Officer at Pure Charity, a nonprofit dedicated to building world class technology solutions for Nonprofit Organizations, Individual Fundraising, and Community Advocacy.

Mike currently serves on the Board of Directors for Help One NowMercy House GlobalCanopy Northwest Arkansas99 Balloons@HopeMob, Laundry Love, and Serve Northwest Arkansas.  

Prior to Pure Charity, Mike worked for Nickelodeon, The Walt Disney Company, Hershey Foods, and served in the US Marine Corps. Mike is a husband of 22 years, father of 4, a lover of a great story, and never too far from a fly-fishing river.  

Framing Human Care and Issue #1

It has been a week since Idea Camp Human Care, and I am beginning to see there are two very large areas that need to be reframed in my life. The edges of these issues were clearly not where I thought they were before Idea Camp.

You are free to call this my ignorance or limited exposure, but you must not dismiss these because you believe I am alone in my thoughts.  

The first is how Human Care is a really, really big issue and we are missing it in a big, big way.  The second is the oppression of women of which I am going to start unpacking with urgency in the coming weeks

I am beginning with Human Care because I believe we have to find its foundation before we can begin to approach the injustices in the world.

We believed Idea Camp would begin the process of defining the term “Human Care,” and  I now believe there is a framework emerging.  I will humbly offer this as a starting point...

Human Care is the holistic Care for Others that occurs when the holistic Care of Self is being and becoming in God's redeeming story.

As we arrived at Idea Camp, the topic of caring for self was isolated and expected to be one of the four topics.  By the conclusion of  Idea Camp, Human Care as defined above had become the overarching theme of every conversation.  Caring for self was firmly established as being impossible to avoid and impossible to divorce from any action of caring for others.

Why did this happen?  

We originally thought one of the markers emerging within the social movements of the church was the huge potential for burnout not just in one person but within the entire movement.

It appears we are a lot closer to this marker than previously thought.  In fact, I believe...

...we have already arrived at it.

I remember clearly how some of the Idea Camp guides came into the Green Room before their session with these humble words to offer.

I am not sure I can still talk about what I thought I was going to talk about.

In those words we knew we had waded into the very deep waters of Human Care.  This theme at Idea Camp was not only changing those who came to participate, but it was changing those who were leading the conversation as well.

How did we arrive here so quickly?

Some leaders within the church may tell you this is happening because the movement is rooted in liberation theology, a saviour/messiah complex, or the lack of proper discipleship.

However, I believe what is happening is rooted in elements common to all of those within the evangelical church

1)  Lost Liturgy - The evangelical church has lost their liturgical bearings.  Rest, lamentation, seasons of reflection, fasting, prayer, and seasons of work have been lost and the consumer-production oriented beliefs that rule our culture have slowly taken their place. Without these ancient reminders, the culture of doing versus being will eventually take it all from you.  I believe it has done just that.

2)  Examples - There are few leaders in these movements who have been able to effectively model to larger audiences what it means to rest, pause, fail, or reset their approach to ministry or advocacy.  I am so thankful for the beacons that are beginning to emerge in Peter Greer, Tyler Wigg-Stevenson, Steve Graves, and others who are saying that the ultimate bottom line is not the bigness of our mission or greatness of our accomplishments but in the way we think about "accomplishment" at all.

3)  Lack of Spiritual Formation

In spiritual formation, the problem with being conformed is that we have a strong tendency to think that if only we do the right things we will be the right kind of Christian, as though our doing would bring about our being. - M. Robert Mulholland, Jr.

So often we want to say we must do or we must be.  The  truth is that we must not choose between one or the other; we must allow God to incarnate both with the understanding that it is God who is the hero and director of the story.

It is not what we accomplish, but what God accomplishes through us.  In this, being and doing are in alignment.

When our doing flows from our being, we are able to release the claims of whose heavenly bank account gets credit for the impact.

Maybe we are not competing against each other to be the hero of the story?  Could we actually be competing against the Author of the Story Himself?

4)  Worship

In Luke 5, we see Peter's response to Jesus' presence and action...

But when Simon Peter saw that (fish breaking the nets), he fell down at Jesus’ feet, saying, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!”

When we cannot see our own sinfulness as the very thing that Jesus came to cover and redeem, our response to Him is not worship.

Our response is to create distance.

Communities who recognize that without God at the center they are unable to be what God desires will create a place for authentic worship.  When authentic worship emerges, we see our sins and shortcomings become offerings to God who can then begin to use them for His purpose.

I'm left believing that authentic and healthy communities simply worship before any talk of doing takes place.  These communities seek God’s incarnation in their lives, the covering of their sins, and mutually acknowledge that God is bigger than any one person or organization.  Therefore, all are needed, all are welcome, and all posses the image of God in ways that others authentically need for the community to prosper.

We have much work ahead of us in this understanding of Human Care. 

If you find yourself needing some first steps, I would recommend beginning here...

(much more to come)

photo credit:  Scott Wade

The Oppression of Women // Issue #2

Of sinew and stones