“In America the quirk was that people were things.” The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
People are not things. Colson Whitehead’s novel about escaping from slavery reminds us that being “owned” by another human being was unspeakably miserable in spite of what many of us (white people) were taught. Stories of benevolent slave owners were part of my upbringing along with myths that people were kept as slaves for their own good. Seriously, this has been the narrative for generations.
People are not things. While politicians might say anything to win our votes, we are more than our ballots. We are more than our polled comments. We are human beings who deserve leaders who serve a cause bigger than themselves for the sake of the whole.
This week I am in St. Pete’s, FL at the national conference on evangelism and church growth. Starting new churches, much less serving established congregations, is not for the fainthearted. There are countless cultural and personal reasons why people are not as active in spiritual communities as they used to be.
People are not things. They are not numbers to bolster our sense of success. They are not financial pledges. They are not “targets for evangelism.” We are human beings who crave community and healing and forgiveness. And we deserve leaders who understand that we are created in God’s image. Every one of us – even the cranky and mean ones.
Congregations flourish when we love people and use things. Congregations die when we use people and love things.
And so we begin the Go Disciple Live Conference this week. How can we be the light in a world that uses people?
Note: I heartily recommend The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. And the image comes from the PCUSA Go Disciple Live Conference featuring keynoters Casey Wait Fitzgerald, Ralph Watkins, and Mike Breen.