Sunday, May 17, 2015


My conversation with the young Baptist pastor yesterday ended oddly.

He talked about what he does, then asked what I did. I told him some of the things that interest me in my occupation. We had to leave for the start of proceedings, and he thanked me for 'telling your story'. I said 'nice chatting'.

My story? It was as though he saw our conversation not as two men chatting, but as a therapeutic dyad. It destroyed the genuine enjoyment that I had in it. Was I his 'project' for the moment? Did he seek to solve something? If so: patronising to say the least.

Then, reflecting on other similar encounters, the suspicion arose that many Baptists I've met have had a 'deficit' view of relationships: always something to be fixed, usually spiritually. Thus, not a shared time, not just people together, but one on a mission for the other who is in need.

I once had a friendship with a young woman that might have been going down this path: there were moments of genuine unselfconscious conversation, I thought, but there came a point when the course changed. I raised it, she denied...I think I had turned into a project.

This connects with the obsession in some church circles with leadership. Not is this just unreflective aping of the world, but it lacks biblical definition. One of the sessions at Revive was on developing 'leaders'. The only similar thing I find in the New Testament is people ministering. Develop your ministry! Everyone has one, and developing it will build the church, not on a deficit basis, but on a capability basis: what I/we can do, want to do, will do; each different, each contributing.

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