I’m from Flint. I didn’t grow up inside the city limits nor do I live within them today, but I’m still from here.
We are a place with horrible roads and people with great hearts. We are proud of our athletes who have performed on the highest stages in sports; Olympics, World Series, and Super Bowls. We enjoy our local fare; coney islands, Halo Burger, Faygo and Koegel’s. We have gems that people take for granted; The Whiting, Flint Institute of Arts, and the Flint Farmer’s Market. We come from hardy stock. Only one other community in the nation has had more people vacate it than Flint – and that is New Orleans. We in Flint live in the wake of a 25 year long hurricane.
Unfortunately we are also a place of division.
Racially: Black and white.
Economically: Well off and poverty stricken.
Politically: Labor and management.
All division is destructive but it is the latter that I want to focus on today. In Flint, the labor/management struggle isn’t just in the automotive world…it’s everywhere. I hear it surface in conversations at the coffee shop. I see the chasms it creates in health care circles. It even can be seen in my area of vocation: the church.
I’ve experienced most of the scenarios.
Leadership teams that see the pastoral staff as labor who work for them. They raise questions like, “How many hours did you work this week? Why isn’t the church growing faster? What is your plan to change things?”
Church boards that see the staff as management and therefore they naturally oppose them. They make statements like, “You are the experts. That’s what you get paid for. Maybe you don’t have what it takes to take us to the next level.” (whatever that means)
Pastors that see the laity as labor and they manipulate them. They bring language like, “Why aren’t you more committed? You really need to attend this, do this, and be a part of this.”
I understand the church has problems because the church has people; pastors, leaders, and laity. We are all guilty of using way more “you” language than “we” language. If there is one place where the chasm between labor and management is bridged, it should be the church…whether in Flint, Fargo, or France.
I’m not sure where this hits you. Maybe it’s the reason you don’t go to church. Maybe you’re entrenched in a battle over church music or furniture. Maybe you’ve never even thought of it before. So let me suggest using “we” and “us” more often. Let’s remember that we serve Him and with each other. And finally, I’ll close with something written by someone much wiser than me.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.(the Apostle Paul – Galatians 3:28 NKJV)