Monday, 27 February 2012

Valuing space

There are lots of discussions around the institutional church just now about the cost of ministry. Sadly, not the cost in terms of selfless giving, but the actual monetary cost of employing well educated, professional, comprehensively trained staff. The perception, fueled by insensitive comment and crass marketing is that cheaper alternatives are where it's at. Many colleagues are feeling undervalued, a burden the church can ill afford. Some of these effects are, of course, part of the natural processes of change and the church like any institution today is in a state of flux, though that might be hard to discern in many areas.
Change, as they say, is the only constant. But, in every time of change, careful discernment is required and, it would seem, it's that willingness to discern direction that has been overlooked as the institutional church plunges into its latest crisis. While opportunities are seized on, the more steady, careful discernment necessary to navigate a way through the turbulence is being compromised in the interests of a possible quick fix.
In this season of Lent, as we sojourn with Jesus in the wilderness, may we repent of our willingness to jump on the latest band wagon and, instead, squat in the dust of reality, prepared to wait it out until the grey becomes less blurred and the shadows come into focus.

5 comments:

David Denniston said...

I would entirely agree with your perceptions Liz, and would add that what really frustrates me is the apparent lack of any articulated theological reflection or rationale for all these changes. They may be necessary, but money in and of itself cannot be the sole driver.

Doug Gay said...

how about post-Christendom as a driver, or the problems caused by clericalism (which OLM could reinforce but might bridge away from) or the theological incoherence of the readership model in the relatively isolated space it has occupied, the huge number of retirements of paid ministers approaching and then finally, the lack of money...
none of which is an argument for undervaluing anyone, but maybe there is more going on here?

Beth said...

Across the pond, we're in a season of campaigning for president in which the latest outcry is against college education, as the locus of 'brainwashing' of the young. Yes, the term brainwashing was and is actually being used. I live in a time and place where ignorance are celebrated as the moral and intellectual equivalent of knowledge. Knowledge is not an end unto itself, but it does seem to me (at the risk of being guilty of clericalism) that dedicating a time of life, if not an entire life, to the pursuit of knowledge, of history and context, of language and pastoral caring, of speaking coherently and well, of being educated and being equipped to educate, actually matter. I don't know the problems or contemplated solutions in the Church of Scotland. But I do know this from living in the US: the celebration and exaltation of ignorance is its own form of idolatry. Trust me on this.

liz said...

Doug, Of course there is much more going on. However, I am not convinced that those steering the ship are cognisant with the drivers or willing to reflect properly. And, whilst they are aware of the climate of unrest, they are unwilling to shoulder the pastoral burden of redressing the demoralisation of those who are using their theological education to creatively re-image the church in community.

Martha Spong said...

Thanks for the reminder that discernment is slow, not whimsically instantaneous (as I sometimes wish it would be).

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