Last week I talked with a church that was going through severe staff reductions because the economy had hit their area particularly hard. This pastor lamented that they now were going to have to cover all those ministries with volunteers. As gently as I could, I tried to suggest that maybe that was who should have been doing the ministry all along.
Churches with financial resources inevitably gravitate more and more to professional staff doing ministry on behalf of the congregation. What should be true is that NO staff member should ever be hired to do ministry, but only to facilitate the church doing ministry.
So, too, in our own lives, we hire people to clean our houses and maintain our yards when those jobs can be a very therapeutic relief to the work we do all day, every day. We feel over-worked, but past generations knew that hard work wasn’t the source of unhappiness. Our grandparents worked from dusk to dawn to provide for their families, and study after study show that those women and men who had so little in the way of material things were much happier than our generation, which needs to rent storage or buy bigger houses for our excess stuff.
As tragic as this economic struggle has been for so many, perhaps some good can come out of it. Like that church, perhaps we have to be forced to reevaluate our values, reconsider our choices, simplify our lives. If we are not someone (a church) impacted by the economy then perhaps we need to open our hearts to the suffering around us and make the changes anyway.
President, Hope for Peace & Justice