Church should be defined by its imitation of Jesus, who spoke a blessing upon everyone he met. Jesus spent his days walking among the fallen and touching those who needed his healing. His few sharp words, were directed towards those who spoke nonsense and shame towards the weak. And, even though Jesus had been educated in the highest place, he continually prepared for his peripatetic teaching work by going off alone in prayer. He only spoke about God from his own personal experience. He was in this Way, the word made flesh (John 1:14).
My denomination, like most, continues to undervalue people with Jesus’ approach to service. Those leaders who fail to produce quantifiable results are considered ineffective. Those members who refuse to serve on committees, or speak up at meetings, or host events in their homes, are labeled shy, under-committed-to-the-cause, and unimportant, even though these same people may be radiating circles of love and acceptance in the context of their daily lives. Meanwhile, the language of the church continues to grow more and more institutional. Our collective hunt, is not for the elusive spirit of God and better ways to serve, but for programs that entrap more participants inside our walls.
I think it is important that we filter out what those who run the church say from what those who actually serve know. For instance; clergy-types constantly complain about not having enough volunteers to maintain their cherished programs, and about how few workers are willing to take on leadership roles in the church. “Something is wrong with this generation,” they say. Yet what is right about this post-modern generation is their zeal for core values and their disdain for institutional jargon. Where they are less likely to give you a blank check for an hour of their time each week, they are more likely to work with you to develop a unique plan for meeting the spiritual needs of the worshiping congregations and small groups that they enjoy. They are also more likely to ask relevant, perhaps even troubling, questions about the church’s outreach program. Further, if they find a ministry to be authentic, they will tell their friends and post comments on social media. This street credibility cannot be bought, nor can a church boost its search engine ranking by executive fiat.