Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Real World

More than once I've heard from parishioners and friends, "Yes, but you don't know what its like to work in the real world." The Real World. Interesting....

It is true that I've worked for the church my entire adult life. There are certain perks to working for the church, including setting my own schedule and being able to go to the doctor / hairdresser / grocery store in the middle of the day. I get four weeks of vacation without question (or without much question). I have health insurance, a paycheck and a safe place to live.

But there are also challenges to working for the church, namely evening meetings (sometimes night after night), being on call 24 hours a day, having more bosses than one can count, and the expectation that you can be everything to everyone. Yet I accept every challenge for the joy and fulfillment I get out of my vocation.

There are ways that the real world is creeping into the church. Pension shortfalls and increased health insurance contributions and co-pays were not part of the minister's life when my grandfather was serving. The church is facing many of the same challenges faced by those in the real world.

I bristle when I hear the comment mentioned above. The implication is that I live in a bubble and don't know what it is like out there beyond the church or parsonage doors. That is simply not true. But what really gets me is the implication is that what happens outside the church doors is real as opposed to what happens inside the church.

Shouldn't we bring more of the church into the world, rather than dismiss what happens in the church as being beyond reality? Shouldn't everyone have four weeks of vacation, health insurance and a safe place to live? Shouldn't everyone be treated with love and respect as children of God? Shouldn't we strive to bring the real life the church offers into the world?

1 comment:

Pink Shoes said...

I've recently thought that the next time someone says that to me, I'll respond with "show me what it's like in the real world, then, since I have no idea." I'm not sure that I'll be able to say it with the sincerity that it needs. However, I do want to be invited into that space where people obviously think that I have never been.
I did work for two years outside of the church before seminary, and it is different than working in a church but not more real.