October 4, 2018

Dear Friends,

I saw a post on social media this week suggesting the need for what the author called “the uberization of American Christianity.”

The author wasn’t using the word uber the way Nietzsche used it. He wasn’t saying that we all need to be some kind of super Christians.

He was using the term in the modern day, ride sharing sense of the word uber.

Uber, as you no doubt know, has completely disrupted the decades old taxi business. From the first appearance of a taxi cab on the streets of Stuttgart Germany in 1897 until 2009, if you were without a car in a big city and needed to get from point A to point B in a hurry, you hailed a specially equipped yellow vehicle with a lighted sign on top. You took a taxi.

That’s how ride sharing has worked for more than 100 years. The only people who have been able to legally charge money to take you across town in their car had to have a specially equipped vehicle with a city issued medallion on the hood. In New York City, that taxi medallion can cost literally hundreds of thousands of dollars.

On top of that, the only people allowed to drive taxis in New York are people who have passed a criminal background check, taken a defensive driving course, been drug tested, gotten a doctor’s signature on a medical examination form, demonstrated a basic proficiency in English, paid all the necessary fees to the city, and finally, the prospective driver has to have completed a wheelchair accessible vehicle training course.

But everything about ride sharing changed in 2009 in San Francisco, when Uber appeared. The premise was simple. Uber advanced the idea that driving someone from point A to point B in a big city is not a task that requires a special kind of car, special kinds of training and a mountain of city fees. A lot of people have cars. A lot of people know how to drive. All Uber had to do was to connect the people with cars who already know how to drive with the people who need a ride and, voila, the problem is solved.

So what does all this have to do with the “uberization of American Christianity?” The author’s point was that the work of ministry is not something that should be cordoned off for a specially selected, specially trained group of professionals. The work of ministry is something to which each one of us as followers of Jesus is called.

His point is that as the church in America has become more institutional, staffed by trained professionals, we have fallen into the trap of thinking that ministry is something best left to a special group of highly skilled, highly qualified men and women.

Don’t get me wrong here. I think there are some pretty significant problems that can occur when people react to the institutionalization of the American church by throwing the baby out with the bathwater. They often wind up neglecting the very practices that the Bible tells us ought to define a local church – the preaching of the Word, the administration of the sacraments of baptism and communion, the setting apart of elders and deacons and the ongoing responsibilities of shepherding a local body of believers. To be a church that reflects the teaching of the New Testament, there has to be some formal structure and organization.

The ride sharing disrupters at Uber know that. They have a structure and a process of their own for approving and continuing to work with their drivers. They have lowered the bar for entry and participation in the ride sharing economy. And in the process, there have been tens of thousands of people who know how to drive and who have a license who are now in the ride sharing business.

I think all of us in the local church need to recognize that the New Testament bar for participation in ministry is lower than what we often see at work in local churches. Training and oversight for ministry are not unimportant. But there are a lot of people in our world today who need to be taken from where they are right now in their understanding of who God is and what it means to believe in Him and follow Him to a new place. And that’s a journey many of you are capable of taking someone on.

As you know, Redeemer is not a typical institutional church. We don’t have a big staff or a ton of programs. When ministry needs to happen, we all roll up our sleeves and pitch in. In many ways, Redeemer is already “uberized.”

But you may be one of the people in the church who has the basic skills (we call these the gifts of the Spirit) and who needs to put them to work more regularly than you currently do.

The harvest, as you know, is plentiful. In fact, there’s a whole lot more work to be done than the trained and certified workers are capable of doing.

Is it time for you to get uberized? To get in the game? Take a minute right now and simply ask God how you might be able to give someone a spiritual lift today.

The work has begun! Here are a few pictures of what’s happening over on David O’ Dodd this week:

Please continue to pray for the work, for the workers and for the weather as we move forward with the construction of our new church home.

And speaking of our new church home, if you don’t have Sunday, October 28 already circled on your calendar, now’s the time to do so. That’s the day we’ll have our all church picnic on our property. We’ll plan to gather around 4:00 pm, enjoy some food, throw a few Frisbees, maybe sing a few songs, and enjoy what we hope will be some cool autumn weather by then!

Tomorrow night (Thursday) is Kids Small Group. The fun begins at 5:45. Dinner is provided. Again, if you have questions about Kid’s Small Group, contact Matt Gurney at mattgurney77@gmail.com.

It’s time for a few good men and women to sign up to lend a hand in the nursery at Redeemer. We need volunteers who can serve for one or two or three or even four Sundays between now and the end of the year.

Do you have a Sunday you could spare to take care of babies so their moms and dads can have some time to be refreshed in worship and the ministry of God’s word? Don’t make Kelly Rackley call you out! Volunteer right now. Send Kelly an email at suubifamily@gmail.com and let her know you’d love to help.

Why did Mordecai tell his cousin Esther to keep her Jewishness a secret from the royal authorities in Persia? Maybe for the same reason that some of us are tempted to keep our faith hidden from friends and neighbors. We’ll talk about living for Jesus in a sometimes hostile culture as we continue our study of the life of Esther this week.

See you in church.

Soli Deo Gloria!
Pastor Bob

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