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Perpetual Juveniles

19 May 2008

I have often observed to friends here in Amarillo, especially after my recent stint on a senior minister search committee, that the fundamental problem is not the current CEO or the paid staff surrounding him; it is WE…we who clamored for a king because we thought we needed one to fight our battles for us and make us like all the other nations!  WE are the problem, not those honorable people who serve quietly and dedicatedly in full-time ministry roles.  So I’m not advocating booting anyone out the door. (At least not necessarily.  There are, of course, CEO-minded dudes who need a comeuppance, but that’s a case-by-case thing.)  The diagnostic tests point in another direction; I Samuel 8-9 is a useful place to start.

But I do question the wisdom of assuming that the way we are currently inclined to organize ourselves ought to continue without a critical look at the presuppositions that it tacitly reinforces (and inculcates in our young simply by default).  What is the long-term effect of outsourcing the pastoral and prophetic functions in perpetuity?  Our Tuesday morning study group will hit Hebrews 5:1ff tomorrow, and we will have to grapple with this question of perpetual juvenility.

From where I sit – and again, this is a problem with US in the pews, not with the staff per se – the same entitlement mentality that we decry in the political/economic realm has infected us in the rank and file of the church.  The message we convey is: entertain me with stories, link the sermon to the latest TV reality show so I can call it “relevant,” make sure my kids are having fun, and run me through the same musical formula every week so that I can pretend I’m at a Newsboys concert, raise my hands on command, and just have a good ol’ time.  And the way we convey it is by coming back, again and again, bringing two cheeks and a check to apply against the modern American yardsticks of booties and budgets.  That’s the language we speak now; and we have invited it to be thus.


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