Thursday, June 7, 2007

"I'm in it for myself...."

This past Saturday, as a wrote previously, our congregation had a table set up for Riverton's "Victorian Day." It was a lot of fun. I got to meet a lot of people, and we handed out a ton of water (just recapping for folks). In the midst of all of vendors and organizations people we buzzing up and down the street dressed in Victorian garb of various styles - it was a lot of fun.

In the midst of all this, however, there was one non-Victorian garment that stood out in the crowd. As I greeted people in the street I caught someone wearing a tee-shirt which read, "I'm in it for myself." I didn't get a picture - but it's stuck with me. That shirt got me thinking about all the churches I've ever been a part of - the political games, the rivalries between economic classes and between generations, the family fiefdoms and "we were here first" mentality, the "spirit-filled" praise-band only crowd and the less enthusiastic "we like the organ crowd," the Sunday School splits and the cults of personality based on pastor's present and long-gone. I look at it all and I think, "You know, it seems that we're really just in it for ourselves."

We want what we want, when we want to get it - and we'll attack, ignore, or savage anyone who gets in our way, praise God. We'll form temporary alliances, cliques of personality types, and deal with a dysfunctional system as long as our "needs" are met. Heck, Evangelicalism™ has turned this into a science. The Church must meet "needs," and as long as the individuals who are long-time attenders or just stopping by feel as though their "needs" are being met then they'll stay. If not, they'll make sure everyone knows and who is responsible for unleashing their ire. After all, in most Churches (Evangelical™ or otherwise) the people in the pews are the customers - and not only are customers "always right," they are also in it for themselves.

See the problem? You can't have any type of community with that type of an attitude, much less a Church community that calls upon people (as the Body of Christ) to fulfill the needs of others rather than have them met. A congregation of individuals who are all "in it for themselves" (with varying degrees of awareness regarding this) cannot stand. Church members are not constituents who must be kept happy at all costs - they're meant to be about the ministry of the Gospel. Seekers are not consumers who must be catered to, they're people who need to be loved for the simple fact that they are...well....people no matter what they can do to fulfill our "needs."

Wouldn't it be neat if a church put out tee-shirts that read, "We're in it for others?" Somehow, that sounds like Jesus to me.

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