Today Dr. Peters took our Church and Society class to visit The Neighborhood Academy. The Neighborhood Academy is a private, faith-based, college-preparatory school which serves low-income families and children from the inner-city neighborhoods of Pittsburgh. In short, this school takes students from an underprivileged backgrounds and uses high expectations and a highly structured curriculum (12-hour school days, mandatory extracurriculars, nearly year-round schooling) to instill in them a strong work ethic and a good education, ensuring that they go on to college. This is all a part of the bigger picture of breaking the cycle of generational poverty by giving these children tools to build a successful future.
- Perhaps more “church” time and energy could be given to spiritual formation.
- Church members would be commissioned regularly in worship to serve God through their vocations, thus highlighting and recognizing the missional value of their vocations. This could be done for people with virtually any job description (provided the job is not inherently sinful).
- More “mission” takes place because it’s not bracketed off from the rest of life for church members. Instead they’re encouraged to see everything they do as mission.
- There might be less burnout among church members. Their ministries would be their vocations, rather a pile of church programming which they feel pressured to heap on top of their supposedly “secular” day job.
Of course there’s still room for service in the name of a particular congregation, but it would not be the focal point of the church. Rather, church members could point to the day-to-day work of others in the congregation and say confidently “that’s what our church does to serve God in the world.” I’m thinking out loud a bit here – I don’t know if this is really possible and I’m not necessarily saying that this is the philosophy we’ll use in the new congregation we hope to begin in the coming year – but I think there’s something to this.
Is this realistic? What does this mean for the role of the pastor? For the church-member/attendee – how would you feel about this vision for a vocationally missional congregation?