The New Heroes
Identifying heroes is good business for any organization. Heroes are those who live the virtues and values of an organization with drive and dedication. Hard-core, full-metal-jacket riflemen in the Marine Corps are an example. Selfless, caring nurses at a hospital are another. By identifying and praising heroes, organizations give an "attaboy" of encouragement to workers, and, at the same time, identify the highest and best traits expected of employees.
Heroes are people who act as prototypes, or examples, by which others learn the correct or 'perfect' behavior...Heroes may be the janitor who tackled a burglar or a customer-service agent who went out of their way to delight a customer. In such stories they symbolize and teach the ideal behaviors of an organization.
This article is written about changes being suffered by Churches of Christ, changes reflected in difference between the heroes we once honored and the heroes we now honor. Who are our new heroes? What impact are they having on us?
The Old Heroes
Our heroes have been historically defined by practical and everyday characteristics that are closely associated with our work and worship. Not imaginary ideals, this list describes many real Christians.
- Attends services on Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night; rarely misses; sacrifices other priorities to worship.
- Teaches at least one Bible class per week (and treats the kids to an occasional outing).
- A "cheerful giver."
- Often engages in personal evangelism; often builds up discouraged members.
- Is known to frequently visit members who are ill or in the hospital.
- Regularly engages in personal Bible study; firmly grasps "the truth of the Gospel."
- Can be depended on to show up for work days, or even to show up on their own to take care of things that need to be done around the building.
The New Heroes
Undergoing wrenching changes like almost every other institution in our society, The Churches of Christ have been battered by change. Some see these changes as positive and productive. Others see these changes as damaging and destructive.
These changes have been accompanied by entirely new descriptions of our heroes. Our new heroes possess such a "get it" sense of "grace" that they:
- Skips lots of services and feel pretty good about it (because all forms of guilt and shame are really, really bad).
- Eschew Bible teaching and Bible learning (because they do not consider doctrine to be important).
- Cheerfully avoid giving very much at all.
- Replace evangelism with the pleasure of their company.
- Visit members who are ill or in the hospital (if it can take them away from services).
- Disregard Bible study (because most conclusions reached from Bible study are "Legalistic").
- Depend on others to take care of the work (because those who really "get it" about "grace" have better things to do).
The Impact of Different Heroes
As long as there are hard-core, full-metal-jacket riflemen, the Marines are in good hands. As long as there are selfless, caring nurses, patients in hospitals are in good hands. As long as the old heroes dominated Churches of Christ, we were in good hands.
But what will come of us if the new heroes come to dominate? When attendance and giving are no longer priorities, when Bible teaching and Bible-bases conversions are not longer considered important, and when workers are replaced by feelers, what will come of us?