Monday, 22 June 2015

Why it's time to forget the pecking order ... at church.

I'm nearing the end of my sabbatical time very soon, so it's time to start thinking about 'being productive' again! Consequently, I've been very grateful to listen to 'Why it's time to forget the pecking order at work' by Margaret Hefferman's TED talk here:

I think this has a lot to say to us in churches, so I'll be interested to hear what a group of local church leaders make of it.


Lucy Wright said...

I think the church has known this for a while - community is key, indeed we may say that is what church is about building relationships where we love each other and seek to know God together. The particular challenge is finding time for this to happen in church life. Time is so precious and hard for many people. Also, some find it hard or don't see the importance of it when still productivity is seen as the most important thing.

Nigel Coles said...

Many thanks Lucy. I realise you're reflecting the perception of many people in the church, but I think we need to challenge at least two areas in this one:

1. What people mean when they say, as you refer here, they 'know'.
The Hebrew root yada, which is translated as our “know”/"knowledge”, appears almost 950 times in the Hebrew Bible. It has a much broader understanding than our English word "know”, including perceiving, learning, understanding, willing, performing, and experiencing. To know is not to be intellectually informed about an abstract concept, but to apprehend and experience reality. Knowledge is not the possession of information, but rather its exercise in practice.

Biblically, to the Hebrew mind, to know God is not to know about him in an abstract and impersonal manner, but rather to enter into his saving actions (Micah 6:5). To know God is not to struggle philosophically with his eternal essence, but rather to recognise and accept his claims. It is not some mystical contemplation, but dutiful obedience.

So, where does the word study leave us? I think we need a dose more of patient persistence, as pastors of God's people, to nurture their 'knowing' into genuine discipleship.

2. What 'productivity' really is. I'm still fascinated by the fact Jesus spoke about the Kingdom of God more than any other subject, but his second (based on the NT recorded words) most common theme was money.
"Money never made a man happy yet, nor will it. The more a man has, the more he wants. Instead of filling a vacuum, it makes one". –Benjamin Franklin.
Maybe if we could help people see investing in their lives in other people for the kingdom of God is way more productive in God's eyes ....??

Lucy Wright said...

Interesting Nigel. You've got my thinking as it ties in with things I've been a few more thoughts.

Yes I agree with you on the 'knowing' element which is often equated with intellectual knowledge. In my own context when we talk about a good preach/teach many people mean someone who has dealt with complex abstract intellectual knowledge but perhaps have failed to say how this impacts us on Monday morning - I'm often guilty of it myself. I've been thinking about that lately as I prepare for a sermon series looking at love during the summer. Surely love has to be practiced by what I say, how I behave, my relationships - love can't be just abstract thoughts about love. So I'm being challenged by how I can live it.

As for the productivity part well I think it is more than just money. When you invest in relationships it is hard to see results quickly it is often a slow change, and we live in a society that wants quick results. Building community and forming relationships take a long time. Also perhaps we spread ourselves too thinly - can I or anyone else have a genuine deep relationship with everyone in church? Jesus had twelve disciples that he formed a deep bond of love with.