The Expertise of the Inept
Everywhere we look, there are experts: Experts on the family, experts on childrearing, sex-education experts, money experts, church growth experts, mega-church experts, Bible experts, financial-planning experts, experts on the last time, theology experts, marriage experts, divorce experts, legal experts, moral experts, adolescent experts, parenting experts, medical experts, experts on dying, experts on youth ministry, experts on counseling, and experts on experts.
It’s no wonder that most of us feel completely inadequate to do anything other than cook breakfast, and even then we wonder if we shouldn’t check our menu with a dietician, a nutritionist, a vitamatician, and a chef.
Then we go to church, and we leave completely demoralized by the expert insights into the nuances of the original Greek and Hebrew, which are obviously out of our intellectual reach as laypersons; the clear and obvious principles of godly living that everyone should know, but of course, we don’t know; the unending litany of success stories that make anything that has happened to us pale in comparison. The worship band is so polished, the choir is so professional, the drama is so theatrical, and the multimedia presentation so state-of-the-art that we leave reaffirmed in our own incompetence. It is no wonder that you and I, the ordinary people of God, go to bed each night with a dull uneasiness, a gnawing ineptitude that is present when we drift off to sleep and there to greet us when we awaken in the morning.
We constantly hear complaints about the lethargy of the Church, the apathy of the congregation, the inactivity of the majority. Could it be that the collective passiveness of the church is the direct consequence of the expertise of the leadership? Could it be that the unwillingness to perform by the many is a natural response to the flawless performance of the few? Could it be that the authority of the expert has robbed the non-expert of any authority at all? Could it be that the unending parade of “heroes” has made it impossible to find the real heroes hiding in the ordinary and commonplace?
It is time for us to reclaim the glory of the common, the power of the plain, the authority of the unpretentious. It is time for us to reclaim the radical consequence of the Gospel—which is that the weak, the broken, the fragmented, the suffering, and the non-experts are the authorities of the Church. The miracle of the Gospel is that “the lost” are the ones who show “the found” their lostness; it is they who minister to the ministers. It is the blind who expose our blindness, the lost who expose our lostness, the crippled who expose our handicaps, the weak who expose our weaknesses.
There is an authority that each of us possesses that goes beyond words. It is the authority of our own conversion, the authority of our personal walk with Jesus, the authority of our past, the authority of our suffering, the authority of our failures, the authority of the nicks and bruises life has given us.
Every minute we live with Jesus, every week we follow the Master, every year we mark in the company of the Savior gives us a wisdom about life that transcends the expertise of the expert. Experience is more than a great teacher, it is a great resume that qualifies all of us to make judgments, decisions, and choices that we can trust and that others can trust. Even our failures can occur with passion and confidence because we know they are the fruit of our previous self, the evidence of our unknowing, the mistakes we need to make in order to know we’ve made a mistake, the necessary preface to new insights and awarenesses.
Jesus Christ has called us the Church. Our life in Christ is a light, a grain of salt, a place where the integrity of the Gospel is visible and knowable and touchable. People really do see Jesus in us, and Jesus wasn’t kidding when He said to His disciples, “Whoever receives you, receives me.” Wow! Talk about authority! Talk about being an expert! We each become our own little experts on the Christian life; we each develop our own unique expertise on a relationship with Jesus; we each become a consultant on intimacy with Jesus.
Our churches are full of those who have been battered and beaten-down, trampled and broken by people like me, the so-called “experts” of communicating the faith. How many of us out there are buoyed, at first, by those of us who can turn a phrase, manipulate words, weave a story, only to be let down, the moment we get home, by the realities of a life that doesn’t sound pretty or work perfectly? It should be buoyed by the everyday insights we are learning in the trenches of our own faith. We should trust the sacred intuition we have developed over the years of our walk with Jesus.
The power of the Church is not in its super-preachers, or its mega-structures, or its large institutions. The power of the Church is in its individual people whose sacrifices throughout everyday life have an authority no expert can match.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.