Monday, May 12, 2014

Conservation of Spiritual Resources

By Don Campbell

     We, our fathers, our father’s fathers, and their fathers have followed the belief that the blessings of God in nature are inexhaustible.  As a result, we have wasted, destroyed, and polluted many of God’s blessings.
     Conservation has been defined as “The fullest possible use of resources without abusing the ones exploited, without destroying any needlessly, and without neglecting any that can be used” (Conserving American Resources, Parsons, p.3).  The term fullest possible use separates conservation from preservation.  Some resources are non-renewable and must be either preserved or lost forever; but that is a different discussion.
     Is there a lesson for the body of Christ as to how we should allocate and use resources?  Every program in the church should be a conservation measure—an attempt to make the fullest possible use of every available resource.   Our renewable resources include: elders, deacons, preachers, teachers, and every other member, as well as buildings, equipment, and money.  Time, talent, and opportunity are non-renewable resources, which if neglected are lost.  No program is sacred.  If it does not yield the greatest possible return for our expenditure of money, time, and talent, then it should be scrapped or revised.
     At one time Sunday schools were innovations as were vacation Bible schools, Wednesday night services—even Sunday night services.  These innovations were embraced as a means of reaching more souls and serving more souls.  Are they still serving their purpose or have they become unproductive, unnecessary burdens—burdens that we refuse to lift, because “We’ve always done it”?  Are there innovations that might be more productive in our current society, innovations that are blocked by the companion platitude “We’ve never done it that way before”?  I certainly am not advocating innovation for innovation’s sake, much less innovations that compromise truth.  Dan Saffer wrote concerning the “deification” of innovation:
     It's not hard to see where this deification may lead: innovation for innovation's sake. For proof, simply walk down the aisles of any supermarket and take note of all the "New and Improved!" labels. What it gets us, in other words, is purple ketchup and Crystal Pepsi—products that no one needs and few actually desire (“The Cult of Innovation,” BloombergBusinessweek. 2007).
    Perhaps the best way for me to get off this thin ice onto which I have skated is to asked some pointed questions, rather than point the finger at any program.
    Was the program implemented to meet a need that no longer exists?
    Has the program become a burden to be borne by the strong, rather than a program to lift the burdens of the weak?
     If there is still a need, is the program meeting that need in a way that best utilizes all resources?
    With what can the program replaced that will meet the needs of the body and effectively use the resources of the body?
    If a program is dropped, what will be the immediate consequences, the intermediate consequences, the long term consequences, and the unintended consequences?
     You may think about these questions and risk a headache, or you can just ignore the whole thing as coming from a preacher with nothing better to write about than things nobody cares about anyway.  Hmm…I wonder if that’s the real problem.

- Don Campbell preaches for the Puryear Church of Christ in Puryear, TN. He may be contacted via the congregation's website:

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