The Social Welfare Research Centre invited Concetta Benn, Associate Director of the Brotherhood of St. Laurence, to present a seminar on some of the alternative methods developed by the Brotherhood in its social development programs. The paper argues that theorists and practitioners in social welfare operate in different worlds, and that rarely are the lessons from innovative practice fed into theory. The Brotherhood has initiated a number of projects which attempt primarily to develop human rather than material resources. It is argued that agencies can, by developmental and participatory means, enable consumers to plan and direct their lives with a minimum of bureaucratic or professional intervention. This approach was developed in the Brotherhood's Family Centre Project and is now being tested in three different demonstration projects. The paper describes and analyses these three projects within the context of the developmental approach to social well-being. The projects are a community program for older and retired people; a job creation program for disadvantaged unemployed people; and a program providing long-term accommodation for homeless young unemployed people.