Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Currency of Ministry is Trust

In a factory equation of labor, the hourly wage means much to both the employer and employee. The worker desires a wage that reflects their training, expertise and value to the company. The worker desires a wage providing resources to maintain a standard of living. The employer seeks to assemble a quality product that also turns a profit. In a factory equation of labor, an employer keeps track of hours and the worker keeps track of hours.

The church is not a factory.

Pastors and congregational leaders alike frequently talk, record or make mental notes about how many hours they work. A board member sometimes talks about the 6 hours they spent in meetings during a particular week. A pastor sometimes talks about the 65 hours they put in during a given week. If the church's currency was hours, that kind of factory-style tracking might make sense.

The currency for ministry is trust, not hours. A pastor can build more trust in being present over a 10 hour period of time than 50 hours of work doing something else. A board member can build more trust in one hour of caring conversation with people in the congregation than 8 hours of bureaucratic meetings.

If ministry is focused on the amount of hours worked, then the investment equation is askew. The question of any ministry venture must be, "how are we investing in and building trust?" Too much energy is wasted in the politics of ideology and factory mentalities. Trust only comes from a prodigious offering of love. Jesus didn't say in John chapter 34, "Lo, can you see how many hours I put in for your redemption?" The cross is a reminder of a prodigious offering of love. We are called to love like that. Trust is a product of love.

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