Thursday, August 9, 2007

Join the club

C called yesterday and said, "Well, I've finally made someone here mad at me." It's the same-ol' story: someone is (choose one):
a. ill
b. bereaved
c. having surgery
and the pastor doesn't:
a. visit
b. call
c. send a card
and so the person is:
a. angry
b. hurt
c. moving his membership to another church

Anyway, C was out of town last week and never got the word that this person had a need. Meanwhile, the other staff stepped in to minister, the Sunday School class brought meals, friends from church visited to console and comfort. But the letter to C arrived yesterday--"we thought you were going to be such a good pastor but now we realize how wrong we were about you." When he called to explain, the response was, "I have a hard time believing you didn't know."

So, of course, I get defensive for C--I mean, what does C have to deliberately gain by snubbing this family?But then I get defensive for the Church. We often talk about the difference between club values and discipleship values. Club values sound like this: "I pay my dues and I'm a member, so I should get the perks of my membership (including my own personal chaplain when I need one.) Discipleship values recognize that Jesus called us to follow him in a community in a way of life, seeking the Kingdom. In this case, the community did exactly what it was supposed to do--the family of God surrounded this couple and loved them in the middle of their need. But it wasn't enough. I wonder if the Church will ever learn to seek the kingdom together as long as club values dominate. I know, I know, this is nothing new, just what I'm thinking about today.


cbalmain said...

I've always found the "country club" analogy of church rather amusing. People like to come to church to socialize and hang out, have parties, meet new people, maybe go to an educational lecture from time to time. I'd never really considered the "membership dues" aspect of it, though. Some people certainly do have a sense of entitlement.

I still say that the only job that's gotta be harder than being a pastor is being a pastor's spouse. To take the slings and arrows of a congregation upon yourself is one thing. To watch your partner take them and then keep smiling and saying "I love you" to that same congregation - that's something else entirely.

Dotty said...

Good post.