TheoEcon

11Nov04

From Dictionary.com – Economics: “The social science that deals with the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services and with the theory and management of economies or economic systems.”

I looked up “Economy” as well. Got a standard definition: “Careful, thrifty management of resources, such as money, materials, or labor.” But also got something interesting. Definition #6 – “Theology. The method of God’s government of and activity within the world.”

But here’s something even more interesting:

“Word History: Managing an economy has at least an etymological justification. The word economy can be traced back to the Greek word oikonomos, ‘one who manages a household,’ derived from oikos, ‘house,’ and nemein, ‘to manage.’ From oikonomos was derived oikonom, which had not only the sense ‘management of a houseold or family’ but also senses such as ‘thrift,’ ‘direction,’ ‘administration,’ ‘arrangement,’ and ‘public revenue of a state.'”

In the comments below (15 at last count) there are lots of good points made, assumptions challenged, and quite a bit of dissagreement. But I think there is something deeper going on as well….

I’m pretty tired and we’ve got a long day ahead of us tomorrow, but here are a few thoughts:

* This is less about a “model of church/pastor” and more about a theology of economy. Certainly how we view church and pastor form and inform our practice of leadership, but what I really want to get at is “what does it mean to make money and how do we do that in a Kingdom-ward way?”. I think we are pretty screwed up in the US as to how we “make a living”…. I mean really – what does working from 8-5 really do to a person. Its insane. We divide up our lives into these crazy little bits… then we wonder why we feel so scattered. Working for 9-10 hours a day away from my family and community is not normal – nor should it be. We need a better way to sustain our lives. Not only are we using up the earth’s resources, we are using up our own and our families and our churches. Is it any wonder that our church feels disconnected from one another – if we only see each other once a week, or even twice?

* I am concerned about a paid pastorate mostly because of the propensity for it to become a service industry. This is a two-edged sword…. yes, we are called to serve one another. But that is different (fundamentally) from the “service industry” where the “customer is always right”. I think too many pastors cripple their pastorees by enabling emotionally (not to mention spiritually) unhealthy patterns and behaviors. When we get paid we become subject to those paying us… it happens. Perhaps it is my own emotional vulnerability or immaturity (they are both quite present) that lends itself to feeling “owned” by a congregation, but it happens and it isn’t good.

* I am more and more drawn to a monastic means of vocation and occupation (two seperate but related things). Whereby a community hears God’s call together and mutually supports and sustains itself through common, shared work. There is a monastery in NC (I think) that breeds and trains German Shephards, one in CA that makes and sells ceramic figurines and apple products from their orchard. Could this be a viable means of sustenance for communities such as VBCC or VC? Micheal raises some good points in the comments below about the difference between parish and monastery. I’m not sure what do with the parish way. It seems viable, but I’m not sure I can live that way.

* Last one, as much as this conversation needs to happen (it can not cease), I recognize that this is mostly, at least right now, about me. That’s not to say it is selfish, rather this is the particular mud hole that I find myself in. Please forgive me if I inadvertantly sling any mud… there’s just so much around that sometimes it gets messy. I want to be clear, as much as I question a paid pastorate, I do not doubt or discount what God has and that God can use these people mightly. Nor do I discredit my sisters and brothers who disagree with me and passionately support a paid clergy, I know that they love God and serve his people as much (probably more than) I. I don’t think it is just a matter of preference (whatever works best for you), but I do know that God is sovereign and mighty. He uses all of our imperfect human forms to do his work. I believe that God is at work and is bringing his Kingdom to earth as it is in heaven… I want to be a part of that work – no matter what.

Michael’s got some good thoughts over here on this subject as well.

As does Daniel, here.

Blessings abound and good night.

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