This won’t be one of my better written posts. It’s a bit scattered and ADHD. I have this frustration with my current gap between jobs, being baled out again by my church, and an itch to move the needle somehow. What can I do better? What can we followers of the Way do better? Is the *only* way to do benevolence to just write checks for someone’s bills? There is a growing innovation called the sharing economy that the press has lately become enamored with. They are late to the game on most trends so probably this has been going on for a while. It’s a thing, though. So, how can we use the ideas of the sharing economy to do benevolence better? Lots of questions that haven’t quite formed up into an answer.
There was a story this morning on the CBS This Morning about a clothing rental company. I am lately a little annoyed at my church. Most of the leadership is no younger than 50. We are Presbyterians. We don’t do anything fast. We decide most things through committees and semi-consensus decision making. Our way of doing benevolence is to receive a request, then give it to a committee to approve or deny, and if approved, pay directly to a vendor. We don’t give cash to individuals. All well & good.
I don’t like it. I benefit from it. Some of the reason I am able to stay in my house, keep my fridge full, the lights on and such, is the benevolence fund at my church. So, I should be careful about complaining about the means by which the church has stepped up. This space . . . goes there. Yes it does. Benevolence beyond the initial triggering crisis can become its own thing. It can perpetuate an addiction to the benevolence. I’m still a fan of Lupton’s, “Toxic Charity”. There are crisis and ways that we can serve those who suffer from them. Then there are chronic cases like me, who cycle through jobs, bump along never quite getting on our feet and never quite losing it for lengths of time.
How do I move the needle? How do I tip my momentum toward further stability? I am not alone in this dysfunctional way of living. I know the answers. I ran my mouth again about living on 80% of my income. That’s an answer for me. The other question is how can churches like mine, with our committees and lethargy become more agile, more creative, so that the answer isn’t always, “well, we’ll pay that bill this month”?
The answer isn’t fully formed in my head. There are a bunch of disconnected thoughts buzzing about my head. One of them is a feeling that the millennials are on to something with the businesses they have started as part of the sharing economy. Even I, broke as a joke, possess stuff that is under utilized. I am an experienced cab driver. I have a car. It sits for 22 of 24 hours a day. I don’t have a recognizable job. Yes, I like saying this blog is a job. This blog has earned $17.00 in its 3 year existence. That’s not a job at a living wage. The car is one thing. What else could be used to earn money sharing economy style? How could the church facilitate a matching of people who need services or stuff and people who can work or sell stuff in a sharing economy, agile way?
That’s my question. Presbyterians were part of the revolution in the church 400 years ago. We were edgy, new, fashionable. Now we are stodgy and feeling our age. I don’t like PCUSA and its choice to loosen its principles in the name of cultural relevance. That’s not the answer. The fundamentalism I have in mind disrupts large enterprise, institutional thinking. We replace the battleship of the church with smaller, house church style agile congregations that are both strongly rooted in tradition and innovative in the way they are the living testimony of the resurrected kingdom.
Fancy talk. I got good fancy talk. The constant question is how that fancy talk is lived out in plain walk.