Friday, September 13, 2013

Snark: the new way to shame congregations

The United Methodist Publishing House launched a website in 2011 called Ministry Matters. There are blog articles, preaching, teaching and worship resources, a library (subscription required) and evangelism and outreach ideas. The site's tag line is "supporting Christian ministry with resources, community and inspiration." It says this about itself:
Ministry Matters is a destination site for all church leaders [emphasis theirs], both paid and volunteer, interdenominational and nondenominational. The site’s goals are threefold: to equip, connect, and inspire people in ministry. While pastors will find much content designed specifically for them, other church workers, teachers, and leaders will find lots of helpful stuff as well.... Ministry Matters aims to serve Christians of many denominations—or no denomination at all!... 
The content comes from many different sources, some official, some not. Some are "big names" in the UMC world, and some not so much. The site is unevenly curated. Some articles hit a home run, most are at least mildly interesting, but a surprising number of entries just seem to be rants or vents. They are snarky, shortsighted, unhelpful, and—quite honestly from a lay perspective—rather insulting.

Posts like these are not uncommon on the site:
How to rid your church of young people
10 ways to remain 'favorite' pastor

Ministry Matters may say it is a "destination site for all church leaders," but articles like these go right for the jugular of the laity. In what way is this "helpful stuff"? It seems instead just another tired example of the thinking that the problems in churches are primarily the fault of the backwards, ignorant, selfish people in the pews.

Once again, I'd love to see the day when clergy and laity actually talk to each other and serve together. How about it?

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