Skye Jethani has written what I believe to be one of the most important articles I have read in a long time. He finishes Has Mission Become Our Idol? with these words…
If a pastor’s sense of worth is linked to the impact of his or her ministry, guess what believers under that pastor’s care are told is most important? And so a new generation of people who believe their value is linked to their accomplishments is birthed. If the cycle continues long enough an institutional memory is created in which the value of achievement for God is no longer questioned. Leaders may be burning out at a rate of 1,500 per month, young people may be riddled with anxiety, and divorce rates in the church may be rising and families falling apart, but no one stops. No one asks whether this is really what God intended the Christian life to be. No one asks, at least out loud, because that might slow things down. Remember, the work must go on. Impact, man!
I am almost cried from sheer joy to see these words. Why? Because I have been asking these questions and out loud. I have asked, “Why is Paul so silent on evangelism?” I have expressed some of these concerns in my criticism of the criticism of the American Dream. I have wondered about the word/idea of “missional” itself? And I have been asking for over a year, “Is there a God of the mundane?” And hopefully my book (coming soon?) will be louder yet.
Many of us are asking these kinds of questions but in our celebrity-pastor driven church-culture where missional is the justification for all other behavior, it is almost impossible to be heard above the din.
I am thankful Skye Jethani is able to ask such a question with the volume needed and a skill which transcends my own.
Update: Part two is now up in which he points out that…
…the prescribed solution I hear in many ministry settings is to transform people from consumer Christians into activist Christians.
Thanks for this link. I thoroughly enjoyed the article. My husband and I are technically employed as "professional missionaries." During a recent dinner with close friends, one of them said to us enthusiastically, "Y'all are living the real thing!" He meant it admiringly. He said it to encourage us. But we left feeling disheartened. Is this how people see us? Like we are somehow living a more authentic Christian life because we are in full time ministry? Is that the "real thing?" That's a lot of exclusivity and a lot of pressure. This year as I faced some tremendous difficulties with the children we minister to I became all too aware of my deep fear that others see me only as what I do. And to keep their respect and support I had to put my impact on display. I had to ask myself some hard questions. I had to decide what was most important. But now I think I am starting to ramble. Basically I'd argue that the whole "missional" thinking is unfair to all of us…to those living seemingly mundane, "regular" lives and those of us living apparently exciting, "radical" lives in Africa. I keep coming back to your blog time and time again because you so artfully talk about such things.
Thank you Jamie. You have made my day. Seriously.
It made my day that I made your day. A semi unrelated question…have you read Middlemarch? I ask because the closing words are some of my favorite in literature and I feel they speak to what you might be hoping to say in your book.
I have not but I will going to the bookstore and picking it up. I really like Eliot and want to read this before the BBC Masterpiece version is out. Thanks!
This is an absolutely wonderful and much-needed message for believers right now! Thanks for sharing, Matt!