Moral Contradictions

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Why Are We Here?

Nathan has extended the invitation for me to be a "guest-blogger" here for awhile now. I guess setting up the account for me was the biggest hint. I attempted to type up an entry last night as we sat in our office at home, but drew a blank. Never fear, though, it was a mere ten hours and a plethora of events later that brought out some of the passion inside. So here goes - one soapbox of many...

A few weeks ago I spoke up at a staff meeting addressing complacency, lack of commitment, and lack of understanding/education about what church is, all of which exist in our current congregation. This was not the first time I had questioned these issues - and it certainly was not the last - but yet the response from the pastor still astounds me. He simply stated that the issues I raised are not unique to our congregation, as if it were something we just needed to accept and not think about any further. Then he asked what we as the staff could do about it. Trying not to get too worked up I noted a couple of steps to try, but he didn't seem like he really wanted to hear it.

To backtrack a little, I've been involved in some form of ministry for about eight years now and have discovered in that time that a minister's calling, a Christian's calling, is hardly about settling. Growing up, my parents always taught me to strive for the best and to never settle for anything else - a philosophy that has permeated every aspect of my life, notwithstanding my job in this particular church. I also inherited a stubborn streak from both sides that reveals itself now and again. Stubbornness and a refusal to husband can tell you that makes for quite a combination.

With those personality traits (quirks?) instilled in me from early on, though, I cannot and will not just write off a whole church as "no different from any of the others." If that is the case and there is no point in trying to make a difference, then please explain to me why they pay three people to be their ministers. Are we as Christians not called to constantly strive for that higher standard? To spur one another on toward love and good deeds? To strive toward holiness? To be imitators of Christ?

As I sat in the pew that following Sunday, the following words came from the pulpit: "We can't just sit around and dream about what the church ought to be. We need to accept the reality of what it is."

I understand that the church is an institution full of humans, and as such, full of flaws. I understand that because of the humanness involved, no church will be perfect. Each congregation will have its issues, its grumblers, and its struggles. But for those reasons, I am all the more passionate to dream about what the church ought to be, to teach congregants about who God has called His people to be, and to encourage my brothers and sisters in Christ to live lives that are worthy of the calling.

If we just accept the church for what it is, sweep all of the problems under the rug as if they don't exist, and never dream about all that we could become and are called to become, then why are we here, as Christians and as ministers? To maintain the state of complacency? To settle
for being purposeless wanderers?

It's a question that I just might start asking my pastor, our deacons, and our congregation. Why are we here?


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