16 March 2005

Christian institutions: unrealistic demands?

For those of us working at christian institutions, there can be an implicit demand made on us to translate our total commitment to the cause of Jesus Christ into a similarly total commitment to that institution. Stuart Fowler offers a needed corrective:

The differentiation of communal life -- that is, the fact that human community is expressed in a diversity of communal relationships, each having its own distinctive character -- raises the important question: How do we balance the demands of the various communities to which we belong? It can be a serious weakness of the Christian shool that, because it is a Christian school, it demands so much of the time and energies of its members that other communal relationships suffer. This is simply not good enough. It is, in fact, an abuse of Christian community. Every community to which God calls us requires our equal commitment. We cannot measure this by the amount of time given to each, for each has its own particular character. What we can do, and must do if we are to experience the fullness of life to which Christ has called us, is ensure that each has the full commitment that it needs in order to flourish. This is not an easy matter, and requires a constant review to keep the balance right.

Fowler writes this in his essay, "Experiencing Community in the School," published in Jill Ireland, Richard Edlin and Ken Dickens, ed., Pointing the Way: Directions for Christian education in a new millennium (Blacktown, NSW, Australia: National Institute for Christian Education, 2004), p. 129.

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