Christianity, Mission, and Steamroller Blues

"Steamroller Blues" by nakedpastor David Hayward

“Steamroller Blues” by nakedpastor David Hayward

I used to write and cartoon about this a lot because I was a pastor of a local congregation. In fact, I turned all that writing and cartooning into a book, Without a Vision My People Prosper.

If you want to have a church or organization that has a vision and a mission at its forefront, then you have to put the personal development and relationships of the individual members second.

In other words, you can either have a task group or a community. You can’t have the fullest of both. One must always surrender to the other.

This is why I claim that churches are healthiest if they put the person and relationships first and let mission develop in pockets, spontaneously and occasionally.

It’s one thing for a business to have a vision and a mission. They pay their employees to get with the program and promote it. The church, however, is a gathering of volunteers who actually pay the church to support it.

You’ve probably heard the expression “Get with the program!” Or “Get on the bus or get off!” In fact, maybe some of us, like me, have said this. The problem with this when it comes to people is that if you don’t get with the program then you get streamrolled by it. If you don’t get on the bus you get thrown under it.

Well, here I am writing about it again because it not only takes place in the church but in Christian movements such as Emergent. We see people sacrificed to a greater good.

The gospels say that Jesus said, “They will know you are my disciples by your love for one another.” Unfortunately, when you put increasing the reputation of the disciples or increasing their numbers first, the love for one another gets… well… steamrolled.

*** The Lasting Supper is an online community of people, many of whom have been steamrolled, but are anything but flattened. Come join us!

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9 Responses

  1. Pat Pope says:

    The last sentence says it all.

  2. Joy says:

    I’ve driven the steamroller…. And I’ve been under it. 🙁

  3. the other mike says:

    We have a large mega style church here in Lexington where the lead Pastor succumbed to his own Ego fanned by rapid growth in numbers and peer recognition of his amazing “success”.Gradually it became apparent to everyone on the outside that he had cleverly developed a Cult of Personality. People were encouraged to sell homes and downsize, cash-in retirement savings and College funds, take out a second mortgage etc all to fund a new massive complex for Jesus’s mission to conquer the region. This guy had the amazing ability to psychologically transfer allegiance to Christ into allegiance to himself by developing the perception of being the infallible Oracle of Jesus in the eyes of his followers, Unfortunately for him, about 4 weeks ago he and his female worship pastor were forced to publicly confess a “long term” physical relationship. The future of the church is now in question.

  4. Caryn LeMur says:

    The mission is always more important than human life… at least that is the military approach. I find that now, after 20+ years out of the military, I am able to put people before the mission.

    But oh, in the younger days, I could not comprehend the human side of Christianity….. now, I live a balance with more leaning towards the people.

    I am able to delay my day’s ‘mission’ and be more open to ‘changing plans’. I can hear people and be patient with them. I can think beyond my generation, and understand that my ‘mission’ may take more than my life-time.

  5. There’s an interesting discussion going on at the religion and morality subforum on Gaia Online asking if it is ETHICAL to try and convert someone. I argued it depended on the method. What you, David, have touched on is the majority approach to trying to get people to believe as the preacher/believer/missionary does. It’s something that shows up in all religious and nonreligious areas of our lives. (I am NOT the author. You will spot me by my name)

    It’s not a fun feeling being thrown under the bus – whether for the sake of a unified program, or for the sake of laughs.

  6. It happens everywhere. Yep.

  7. Rayzor says:

    Great article. I’m sure this happens in many different religious denominations, however from my experience it is common practice in the LDS church. I spent 20 years of my life as a true believer; most of those years in leadership positions. Looking back I realize how often I was the steamroller driver. It took stepping back and looking in from the outside to realize what was happening. Glad that is past me, but I truly feel for those still caught in that particular religious cycle. Keep up the great work. I’ve gained a great deal from your perspective.

  8. wanderer says:

    100% agree with this post.
    The last church I was part of was all great and good until they started having discussions like “We need to get it in gear! Look, it’s great for the whole family to be in the car on vacation, but at some point you need to pull out the map and decide where you’re going.”
    I thought “why? Why do we need to get it in gear? What’s wrong with the way we’ve been hanging out and caring about each other for 2 years? Why is it all of a sudden not enough?”
    And that was the beginning of the end. Not only for me and my involvement with them, but for the church’s existence. I’m glad, really, since once a group gets busy deciding they need a “there” to get to, the steamroller starts kicking into high gear, typically. This way fewer people got run over.