The Congregation, the least used church asset?
I worked in a large company for the better part of the decade and was a hiring manager for many of those years. At one point I was part of a hiring process for a team lead/manager and one of the other people in the process made a statement to the effect of “first we take all the resumes that don’t have an advanced degree and pitch them”. No accounting for natural ability, decades of experience etc. It seemed to me to be in the extreme wrong.
There is some argument against the emerging church movement, that they are “anti-ecclesial” in that they don’t have – pardon the pun- enough reverence for the reverend.
The crux of the argument defending the need for seminary trained clergy here seems to be “they have degrees and can read greek/latin, therefore they are uniquely qualified” which immediately creates a world view that discounts the congregation. and that seems to me to be very similar to the “let’s pitch them” approach my former co-worker had.
Now you may have guessed that my co-worker had a degree which is why they thought so highly of them, It is worht noting that people with rank in that organization also tended to have a natural deference and affinity to other people with the same rank or higher. Directors liked to remind you they were directors, especially if you weren’t. Something about being invested in a particular structure tends to make it the metric by which you in turn measure others.
Don’t get me wrong. There was a day when you had to go to school and learn greek and latin to read the bible. But that ended with the translation of the bible into nearly every native tongue. And I will concede after that you still had to go to school to at least learn to read, which again until the last 50-100 years was something very uncommon for people. So the educated clergy reading to people was needed. But given the vast selection of highly accurate translations, from the most ancient sources possible, in a culture with essentialy full literacy, do we need formal training to read it?
I dont think so, but that doesn’t stop people from harboring a projected helplessness toward the “flock”. There are concerns if we let the average parrisioner just read the bible by themselves “they might read it wrong”, “they might reach different conclusions”.
But I say, they might be transformed, they might transform others.
The people that attend church are every bit as qualified to spread the gospel, do good works, provide care to others and yes even read and understand scripture, as anyone else in the room. But how many seminar trained clergy truely see them as equal partners? why?
My closing thought would be this, if you had 500 qualified volunteers show up every week at your door, and you put none of them to work, how effective are you being? Can you be more effective at making them part of the movement?
I was inspred to write this in response to the following post: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/bibleandculture/2012/08/13/the-anti-ecclesial-rhetoric-of-emerging-church-movements/