On Monday the shop that I have worked at alongside my church job three times in the last ten years went into administration. One hour later our store was closed and I was informed I was redundant. It was a strange feeling. I was part time there for only six hours a week with my main job and income at the church, but for my colleagues it meant huge change in their lives. Change which will affect them for months if not years to come. Feelings of despair mixed with relief, that at least we finally knew what was happening, flooded us as we packed the shop into boxes for the rest of the week.
As I have reflected on these events lots of thoughts have come to mind, but this morning I was reminded of the growing gap between society and church. How does the church help people who are going through these very difficult times and is this gap present in our churches, where most of the congregation work in a very different world to the one of the paid church staff.
One of the reasons I worked in Gamestation was not the money but the people. They kept me grounded and in touch. They made me a better Christian. My advice to anyone in paid Christian work is to keep touch with the world and do it through the church community. In your church you will have plenty of people who can give you experience outside of the Christian bubble. I heard of one minister who ever year spends a month working in one of his congregation’s workplace.
If you are a member of a congregation then take every opportunity to keep your ministers in touch with society – invite them into your lives. Otherwise the gap between society and the church will creep into our churches too.