A couple of days ago, we got word that my denomination, the United Church of Christ, was going to engage in additional cuts to jobs as they were restructuring departments. It broke our hearts that many of our colleagues with whom we’ve worked closely would be no longer be partners in our journey together.
Word has been released that many of the positions cut focused on communications and publishing. I had worked with some of these amazing staff members on various projects, and it saddened me to know that they would no longer sharing their talents with the denomination.
Now, I understand that there isn’t as much money flowing upward to the denomination. With each of our churches growing smaller, individual congregation are not able to send as much money to the denomination, and the current structure is not sustainable. I can imagine that these choices were extremely distressing to the decision-makers who are faithful people yearning to always make the best decisions possible for the denomination.
But I also know this: with less people attending church, the materials published by the denomination is a primary way for us to communicate and spread the good news of God’s love, grace, and acceptance. I know cuts needed to come from somewhere, but I am saddened that this is the department that is receiving drastic cuts.
I started out as a PR person in my younger days. I worked for non-profit organizations, sending out press releases, crafting newsletters, finding additional ways to spread the word about our message and mission. This year, I was working a few hours per week for a local non-profit. When restructuring was done for that organization earlier in the summer, my position was cut as well. (I still work full-time as a local church pastor but last year was offered an additional part time job utilizing my PR skills.)
So with marketing and communications cuts by all types of non-profits, we are slashing efforts to send out any good news into our world.
Evangelism (or PR and communications for God) is one of our calls as people of faith. Evangelism isn’t our efforts to convince people to believe what we believe but to simply spread the word about God’s unconditional love and grace.
Mark 16:15 notes that Jesus said to his followers “‘Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.” We too are given this directive – whether by our preaching, our teaching, our mission and justice work, or our writing.
I know that the people who remain in the department are remarkable, and they will use their gifts to their full potential. But recognizing that 21st century Church is mostly being done beyond each of our local church walls, I still need to ask: are one or two or three people in our organization enough to share this radical message of love and justice?
So progressive Christian writer friends – this is a call for us to find new mediums or create new avenues to share the good news. With marketing, communications, and church continuously evolving, let’s ensure that we are continuously sharing our gifts in these areas as a primary goal instead of burying these talents outside of our shrinking congregations.