Friday, April 25, 2008

The Powerless Church

I visited one of the older members of my congregation this week. As we visited, we talked about children in need of adoption. She mentioned seeing requests on TV for money to save children. She had seen an add for one of the many programs where you can "adopt a child" by sending the finances necessary to meet the child's needs. She told me, as if it were a confession, "they must know that I will always send them money. It just breaks my heart to see those children. I send them money every time. I guess it is just a weakness of mine." A weakness I thought? I guess that is what we might call it, a weakness--a lack of ability to stay strong and say no. "Well," I told her, "When it comes to those kinds of weaknesses, sometimes they are our greatest strengths."

After our visit, I got to thinking about the church and General Conference. One thousand people gathered together to speak for our entire denomination--power! The church as an institution is powerful and has multiple power structures. There is a widely assumed "chain" with regard to appointment (both in terms of churches and pastors) there are superintendents, bishops, and, of course, our conferences. On occasion the council of bishops and other representatives even get the ear of the president--power (if only he would listen).

And yet I recall reminded by a 92 year old's weakness with regard to starving children that we are not called to be powerful. Rather we are called to brokenness before God that we might be sent as God's servants.

Perhaps (and this is a note ultimately to myself) we should not obsess too much about about what our church's most powerful body is doing to move our church forward but on what we can do in our local communities to empower the powerless.

No comments: