I Would Never Hire a Me

Erik Cooper —  February 10, 2010 — 4 Comments

I once asked a young youth pastor for his perspective on creating effective youth ministry in a local church environment.  His answer stunned me:

“I would never hire a me.”

Excuse me?  What?

“As soon as a church hires a full-time youth minister, the people no longer take individual responsibility for the young people around them. It becomes my job, the institutions job, to make disciples of the kids.”

Interesting perspective.  But it forced me to ask a difficult question: “have I lost my own sense of personal responsibility?”

In a culture where Starbucks serves me coffee, Apple serves up iPhones, and Walmart seems to fill in all possible remaining gaps, it’s easy (even for me…maybe especially for me) to view the church as another faceless institution that provides “spiritual consumables.” Want proof?

A few weeks ago, a guy approached me in the lobby after our weekend service to ask for some help understanding the Bible.  My gut reaction?  We should design a class I could send this guy to for basic Bible instruction.  Only later did it hit me, I should just personally show this guy how to study Scripture.

When the 7.1 earthquake demolished Haiti, my immediate thought was “CityCom should write a check to a relief organization.”  It took some time, and a little conviction, before I pulled out my own checkbook.

American culture rewards those who figure out how to make life more convenient. I love that.  But what if Starbucks required you to jump behind the counter and make coffee for someone else before you could get yours?  Or if Apple insisted you work the assembly line to activate your iPhone subscription?  Or Walmart made you stock shelves in order to shop there?  Would you do it?

That’s more like the Gospel Jesus modeled. It’s inconvenient.  It costs.  It serves.  It takes responsibility. And that makes me uncomfortable.

The church doesn’t exist as a faceless institutional answer.  You and I are here to become the church, and that requires immense personal responsibility.

What personal responsibility am I placing on “the church” to avoid owning it for myself?

Post your thoughts at http://www.beyondtherisk.com

4 responses to I Would Never Hire a Me

  1. You’ve done it again, cyber-friend! Truth-riddled post. Thank you.

    P.S. My husband is on his way back from Dallas, TX as I type and is now on board as the account manager/Brand Smart trainer for The Winn Group.

    We really *will* be down to City Comm for a visit in the very near future. Which weekend would work best for your family (if you’re still up for snagging lunch afterward)?

    I’m excited.

  2. That’s a great one to ponder, Erik. As you’ve been emphasizing lately, we are the church. I am the church.

    One of the criticisms of the recent institutional church is that we’ve allowed it to take on a consumer mentality. What I hear you saying is that each of us has a responsibility to bring a provider mindset.

    That being said, I do see a place for the institutional church to take on projects and causes as the church can add organizational skills and the critical mass to make a larger impact … “synergy” is a sometimes over-used word, but it applies here.

    • I agree Chuck. The way we say it is: “there’s the church that I am, and the church that we are.” God referred to the church as the “Body of Christ” for a reason. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. But I think we’ve lost a sense of inconvenient, personal ownership of the Gospel that Jesus modeled for us. It’s so much easier to say the nameless faceless thing will handle it, rather than to roll up my sleeves and own it myself.

      I’m preaching to myself here for sure…

  3. You’re spot on once again, Erik.

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