Wednesday, August 15, 2007

"Free Labor for the Sunday Event"

My friend, Susan Arnold, over at The Philosophical Pastor made some unsettling, yet-true-in-many-cases observations about "church" in our time. Susan commented, "Seriously though, (and this is, unfortunately, serious) you know what is really heart-wrenching about all the pushing and signing up and “discovery of gifts” you describe here is that those “discoveries” are just a way to get people to think they are using spiritual gifts and doing ministry when they serve coffee or set up chairs. Those “inventories” never really result in people being mentored by others and developed in the gifts of the Holy Spirit for the equipping of the saints; they result in people getting corralled into free labor for the Sunday event."

"...people getting corralled into free labor for the Sunday event."

When is this crap going to stop. Many American evangelical churches are chewing staff pastors and people up and spitting them out for the sake of the "bottom line" and "getting the numbers up." Something as biblically valuable as the Spirit gifting a community of people to live a life of love toward God and others is degraded into USAmerican pragmatic manipulation to keep the activities of a workaholic church afloat.

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10 Comments:

At 8/15/2007 3:51 PM, Blogger WES ELLIS said...

Maybe that's why I never really liked those "Spiritual gifts" tests. What a cheap way to get people busy. I find it funny (in a sad way) that we've emphasized work so much but we never talk about rest or rhythm or sabbath...

 
At 8/16/2007 7:18 AM, Blogger John Frye said...

wes,
I agree that the workaholism of most churches smothers any sense of rhythm or rest. If only all that work for the "church system" could be channelled into nitty gritty acts of compassion to the needy in the community.

 
At 8/16/2007 7:42 AM, Anonymous jeremy bouma said...

amen and amen!

Churchianity is what my friend calls it. It's sad the beauty and splendor of the Bride of Jesus has been reduced in many ways to a truck stop McDonald. Now to be sure there are plenty of communities that incarnate Jesus and are truely hospitable, living, vibrant communities of grace. But I think the "engine" that powers Christianity, more so the evangelical variety, is the culprit of the "crap" you speak of, John.

Anyway, thanks for the quotation!
-jeremy

 
At 8/16/2007 8:20 AM, Blogger John Frye said...

Jeremy,
I think you're on to something...we USAmerican types unwittingly allow other forces (energies?) to drive the engine of "church"--market forces, entertainment forces, sucky religious forces, etc. All that stuff is coming to seed now and it is UGLY.

 
At 8/16/2007 8:47 AM, Blogger Gord said...

I agree with the point you have raised.

It seems that seeking "our spiritual gifts" is no longer a spiritual exercise, but more of an aptitude test for ministry and a way to recruit volunteers.

I am quite sure that this is NOT what God had in mind.

To me, it is a perversion of scripture and an insult to the gospel.

I am sure that well-meaning churches have no intention of coming across this way, but they need to reevaluate this process.

So, I would like to see some suggestions as to how we can help people find their spiritual gifts within a proper context, to spur them on to ministry as God intended for it to be.

To quote your post:

"Something as biblically valuable as the Spirit gifting a community of people to live a life of love toward God and others..." is worth the effort, isn't it?

 
At 8/16/2007 8:56 AM, Blogger John Frye said...

gord,
You raise an interesting challenge. The entire USAmerican (evangelical) church system is a house of cards. So, we pull out the "spiritual gifts inventories" card and discover that the thing collapses--or the pastor-cult card, or the best drama team in town card, or plasma screen TVs card, the Starbucks coffee bar card, etc.

Perhaps we can begin simply: spiritual gifts help us LOVE PEOPLE, not DO THINGS. The question is WHO ARE YOU LOVING?, not WHAT ARE YOU DOING?

What do you think?

 
At 8/16/2007 12:14 PM, Anonymous Susan said...

John,

"spiritual gifts help us LOVE PEOPLE, not DO THINGS. The question is WHO ARE YOU LOVING?, not WHAT ARE YOU DOING?"

This goes well with what I have written in the front of my bible as a reminder:
"There is only really on ministry; to love, in Jesus' name"

 
At 8/16/2007 3:21 PM, Blogger John Frye said...

Susan,
what a meaningful reminder...there is one ministry: to love in Jesus' name. That pretty much sums it up, doesn't it?

 
At 8/17/2007 4:41 PM, Anonymous pat bowne said...

Could anyone point me to Susan's original post on this? I couldn't find it on her blog.

Also, Susan, what's the source for that great quote?

 
At 8/17/2007 6:47 PM, Blogger John Frye said...

pat browne,

http://philosophicalpastor.wordpress.com/

it's in her comments section

 

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