We are endlessly being misdirected in search of the crude “hate crime.” After centuries of racial oppression and violence, our society eventually became uncomfortable with the overtness of the racism of the past. Slavery is taken for granted as a horrific thing, something that couldn’t be assumed a few generations ago. For mainstream America, to be accused of being racist is to have been labeled something despicable. Few would willingly accept this charge upon themselves, defending themselves adamantly against such accusations. However, even worse than the racist label for those within the dominant culture, is for a person to be accused of a hate crime. Hate crimes have been created to isolate the most heinous of offenses that have been committed because of prejudice.
Most of us who work in a church can see parallels between bookstores and church. We had small, physical spaces in which we met and built community. We watched as big-box churches moved in, allowing for many more options, but individuals became much more anonymous in the process. Now, we know there are a growing number of people who are leaving church, but the search for God is still happening digitally.
If you look around at most denominational meetings, you will see that Baby Boom retirements will have a massive impact on our denominations. Boomers make the majority of those in the pews, in the pulpits, and in power. The first wave of Boomers is in the midst of retiring, so what can we expect? How will this affect us?
I can’t say for sure, but let me look into my crystal ball and tell you what I see.
In a recent interview, someone asked me, “What did you write in Tribal Church that you regret? Is there anything that you would change?” The question reminded me of the fact that we’re always predicting and observing things that may not prove to be true a few years later. Here are three myths that I often hear about ministry that I question.
Churchidom is worried about the lack of men. Because, after 2000 of almost entirely patriarchal rule, women are a threat. And now that women have begun to pastor a tiny portion of Protestant churches, the clergy has become a “pink collar” profession (like librarians, nurses and other underpaid professionals with a lot of education and skills).
We know what stories do. The words bind us into a larger narrative. They give us an emotional and historical connection. They allow us to transfer important values. But they also allow us to build an intergenerational self.
I am tired of pretending that we want to hang out at the country club and eat cucumber sandwiches in fancy hats. We are not some sort of upper-crust elite society. Now, it's time to discard that tired label that ties us too closely with a particular race and class. It's time to call forth another name.