My wife got off the phone last night and told me about a friend of ours who's being crushed by our old church. Here's this mom - who's just found out she has a serious medical problem, with a husband who is so over-committed at church they can't get free of their obligations to care for themselves. They are financially strapped because his job doesn't pay him enough to support his family without a strict budget. They are getting by as best they can, dressing their kids in low cost and hand me down clothes, making do, saying no to extras- trying to get just a few more miles out of the car.
I can really sympathize - in fact I wept when I heard the news. I know these people - they are not grand and extravagant - rather sincere and cherish simplicity. The sane among us would say, "Well they need to be doing less for the church - and more for themselves!" and maybe even "How can he let his family live like that?" (Incidentally just a while ago you'd have asked the same questions of me.)
You see my friend WORKS for our old church as the worship pastor. Everyday (and I mean every day not five out of seven) he goes and pours himself out into the lives of this congregation - putting in long hours - both high profile, and wholly unnoticed.. Splitting appointments - trying to help as many people as he can - to do as much as he can - with the required smile.
But the inattentive, the oblivious, the disconnected - the plastic unenthusiastic don't see it. They ignore that most often for the staff, the church is the black hole of need that will just keep draining the staff (or whoever turns up). Since there is no community - nobody knows. The embarrassment keeps them silent and the expectations just linger. If the flock there knew they'd react at once I believe. But since life is not shared - since it is mostly just another division of Jesus Inc. they suffer - a multi-million dollar budget, and staff members that are scraping by to make ends meet. Pray for my friend and the systems both in his head and at his job that hold him frozen. Pray for his wife - she's terrified. Pray that God sends them help - cause I'm not too optimistic about the church coming through for this.