I’ve invited several people to write “guest blog posts” for this blog. There are several reasons for this: 1) To offer different perspectives. 2) To generate even more discussion and conversation between blogs. 3) To introduce other bloggers to my readers.
(If you are interested in writing a guest blog post, please contact me at aknox[at]sebts[dot]com.)
[From Alan: In a comment, Chris indicated that he was in “professional ministry” but was considering leaving that profession. In an email, I told him that I would like to hear more about his reasons and struggles. The following is his response, which he graciously allowed me to post here for my readers.]
I think the thing that’s driving me away is that we continue to hold to the idea that if we have better programming, slicker lighting and media, better bands, and cooler facilities, then we’ll be able to do a better job of making disciples. We’ve seen again and again that this focus on the delivery and production of our message doesn’t increase our effectiveness in transforming people.
We work hard to put together friendly events like Fall Festivals and I hear people say things like “if we can just get them on the campus…” While I think it’s nice to do things for the community, I don’t think that if a non-Christian just steps foot on campus, they’ll suddenly meet God in a way that they can’t off campus. I think there’s also the idea that if people come to our worship event, they’ll be ministered to by “professional” ministers, and that this is more effective.
We continue to inadvertently teach, through our methodology, that 1) God is most present here at the Church building, 2) God is MORE present when our productions are better planned, polished, and executed, 3) You’re being most Christian when you attend an event on a church campus, and 4) “real” ministry is carried out by the full time church employees.
Because we believe that the organization and its few leaders carry out the most effective ministry at the organization’s events, there’s a focus on bringing people in rather than on equipping people and sending them out. Evangelism has come to mean “inviting people to a worship gathering.”
We continue to do all of these things in spite of the fact that we KNOW that what we’re doing isn’t creating many new believers or turning believers into more Christlike people.
I know there are exceptions, and I also fully acknowledge that I am where I am today, spiritually speaking, at least in part because of the fact that I grew up in a pretty normal church organization. I think the organization definitely has its place, and that it will continue to be effective for a (shrinking) number of people.
So, personally speaking, I don’t like that working for this kind of organization means that I spend 90% or more of my working hours inside of the walls of a church building, planning and executing things that will take place in the building – things which will only impact (and that’s questionable) people who come to the building. I work within this very different Christian culture, isolated from the rest of the world, the world which we are called to reach.
I hope I don’t sound too cynical or critical. I’m actually coming out of a year and a half period of serious burnout, bad enough that it gave me an ulcer. I was really, really busy with very inwardly focused things, getting ready to launch a new building campaign, etc. My attitude during that time was pretty bad, but with God’s help, things are better. My current strategy is to see if I can find gainful employment outside of the church, but in the mean time, to continue to work as well as I can and focus as much as possible on things that are more effective at making disciples and reaching people outside of the church.
If you know of anyone who needs someone to create some music for them, or do some graphic design or video editing, especially if it’s full time, please let me know!