Wednesday, January 18, 2006

"Resource" People

I recently aquired the Eugene Peterson book "Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places" at the recomendation of a good friend. The subtitle is a "conversation in spiritual theology". I've read several books by Peterson and really dig his take on things. This book is no exception. I will probably post some excerpts from this book in the coming weeks. As a person who has worked with churches and currently is on staff at a church I find the following quote from this book very relevant:

"[the word] 'rescource,' is commonly used of people who can help us in our work. I can still remember how jarring that word sounded to me when I first heard it used forty years ago by a man who was giving me direction in my work of developing a new congregation. He kept pushing me to identify the resource people that I could use in my work. And then I noticed he was using the word as a verb; he frequently offered to resource our church board, our financial committee, our planning committee.

but 'rescource' identified a person as something to be used. There is nothing personal to a resource--it is a thing, a stuff, a function. Use the word long enough and it begins to change the way we view a person. It started out harmlessly enough as a metaphor and as such was found useful, I guess. But when it becomes habitual, it erodes our sense of this persona as a soul--relational at the core and God-dimensioned" --Eugene Peterson from Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places (P38)

I find that what he hits on cuts right to some of the fundamental problems with the way modern church is done. Most start off with good intentions and nobel aims. They've been aprehended by the love of God and want others to experience it. But it is so easy along the way to start seeing people as a commodity. I remember years ago when I was pastoring a college ministry at SLU getting to a point where I became so concerned with charts and graphs and numbers that the very thing I wanted others to experience was getting choked by the subtle viewing of people as a resource or commodity. We cannot let ourselves forget that God's Kingdom is relational and Jesus' ministry was always in the context of relationship and restoring relationship among people and with God. His example was not the spirituality of the smug elitists but of Emanuel-God With Us. Jesus got down in the muck and mire with humanity as a human. Shouldn't we ourselves follow his example rather than retreating from the world around us or by simply treating everything around us simply as a resource to be used. Just some thoughts.

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