This is to all those who labor in the Vineyard, but feel as if they’re on a plantation instead.
I know what I’m about to post is sacrilegious to those who feel that their position in church is their life. However, truths need be told and devils need be shamed. So go ahead and please take your pain reliever right now, and then read on with me.
I was raised to believe that church work/the work of the church was vital to Christianity. That we were to take whatever talent we had and put it to good use “for God’s glory”; and in turn we would help the spreading of the Gospel by helping our churches grow by bringing in new bodies. If you came from a small congregation, you would find yourself wearing many hats at church. From the time you were 1/2-pint sized, you had some activity in the church (even now my son’s getting his feet wet as a Youth Usher).
For those of us higher up in the ecclesiastical food chain: ministerial leaders, deacons/deaconesses, missionaries or lay leaders it can be more stressful. You have to handle members with issues in a (as best as possible) Christlike manner, even if the members themselves are not acting in like manner. You are assigned people you’re called to serve, despite the fact you have family and a day job (unless you’re a full-time Protestant pastor or Catholic priest). You have to put your church first at times (under the guise of “Putting God first”), even if you don’t feel like it. You have people who look at you like you’re their personal “boy” or “girl” because they’re too lazy to reach out to God (or each other) themselves. You cannot cry or complain, or you’re seen as weak or lacking in faith. If you do have a family, some folk at church look upon them as a nuisance that pulls on your commitment although said folk talk a good game about “family values” or the “sanctity of marriage”.
If you don’t pull your weight, you’re looked upon as not being serious in your commitment. If you have issues at home-even if they’re not your fault-you’re looked upon as not having your “house in order” (as if those other folk have their’s in order). If you’re contending with life issues and trying to keep yourself from going “postal”, you’re still supposed to be there for the church body. And if you do assert yourself, either your pastor or someone in the congregation will be quick to whip out some scripture (usually out of place and context) and whip you with it. If you don’t attend Bible study or Sunday school because you have a family to care for, your ability to lead is questioned since you’re not studying under your Pastor’s covering.
I used to think the above was okay in church, that it’s part of the “cross” we bear in doing God’s work. However, with the rise in health issues plaguing the clergy; and scandals in the news, I’m starting to think otherwise. And being a deacon, I myself have experienced the above one way or another. I believe it’s high time for a change. To me, a position of leadership was never endorsed in the Gospels; and hierarchy was more man’s idea, not God’s. Church has become a chore, and needs to either change quickly or die agonizingly.
Here are some ways we can start:
- Dismantling ministerial positions in the church and calling for all members to serve each other instead of looking to leaders. We need to stop babying members and have them mature.
- We need to respect each other’s families and our times with them. The day of “church widow/widowers and orphans” must come to an end.
- Allow the people to have engaging-and even critical discussions about the Bible. This will engage serious thinking.
- Utilize Facebook, Twitter, and other social media.
- Bring back the “home churches” that Paul and the apostles worked with.
- Start encouraging extra-ecclesiastical activities: trips, games, parties/cookouts, couples/singles activities, youth activities, Senior activities. Church has taken the place of authentic socialization, making us socially lazy.
- Let us leaders get off these damn pedestals, dismantle these offices, and let us breathe and be human dammit!
Jesus didn’t start a religion with ecclesiastical overtones. He was ushering in the Kingdom of God that did not need temples or priests/elders; where all can approach God on their own. Also, we’re to serve each other (without need of pastors) as Jesus served those he loved. Sad to say over the centuries, the organism Christianity was mutated into the organisation Churchianity; the Kingdom/Queendom of God was hijacked by the ecclesiastical dysopia (or dictatorship) of men.
It is time for a change. As one who works in the church, I’m tired. Let turn the chore back into the joy the (very) early Church had in the beginning; and what is sorely missing today.
Hold on my brother/my sister, a change is coming. The New Reformation’s on its way.