Going far beyond the tasks
by José Bernardo
Working to motivate Timothy to devote himself sacrificially to Christian ministry, Paul presents this as the ideal career path for a young man in the Roman Empire: the soldier who became athlete and finally farmer. It is in this context that he says: “The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops.” 2Tim 2:6 NIV. Either this or that the farm should first work hard to receive a share of the crops, the motivation should be always in the fruits, in the results, like to be honored by the commanding officer or crowned as a winner athlete. The Second Letter of Paul to Timothy was the Word of God to me to found the ministry in Brazil. In 1997 I was praying to God because everything hindering and the sin that so easily entangled the Brazilian Church. In that moment, I felt directed by the Lord to study this letter. So, when we started the ministry in 2000, to bear fruits was already an element of our vision and base of our action. However, outside wasn’t like this. I found a church full of activities but poor of fruits. That is why I published the manifest 'I sent you to reap' at the end of that year, based on the story of the success of the Samaritan woman and the fields ripe for harvest that the disciples did not see. Also started a large cycle of crusades called 'Fructify', insisting with the churches to work for results. 'If you go out to sow pamphlets, you only sows pamphlets; go and reap the fruits that God has provided', I used to say, 'this is no more time to sow, it is time to harvest'. The resistance of the church, however, leaning in an absurd 'theology' that deny the harvest, made me think about the reasons for this neglect.
Production not product in a colonial society. The growth of the Brazilian Church could deceive an observer, as in fact eludes Brazilians themselves. However, having grown in heresy, superb, disunity and so much sin, shows that this growth was not the result of the harvest planned by God. Our church has grown in production but not in product, there are many leaves and so little fruit. Why? I think that the exploitative colonization that our nation suffered, as other in the same way, imprinted an extreme disconnection between work and results. The Catholic mentality of penitential work and of wealth as evil, to favor the concentration of goods by the Church is a first assault. The slavery that endured so long in the Colonies, even if Portugal was the first to reject it in Europe, had to be absorbed with a double morality, and established that millions should work without expect results and eat only from the 'goodness' of their masters. These prepared the scenario for the third assault, the paternalistic approach of the government. As early as a colony, then as an empire, and for all the republican history, politicians in Brazil are expected to take care of the needs of the people. Brazilians expect to eat, dress and have fun from the gifts of people in charge, not from their work, even if they work hard. This mindset of being cared, affects even labor relations, since many workers are led to believe that their salaries are result of good relationship with the bosses and not of the quality of their work. When they work hard is to be ‘good people’ and receive gifts, not to be payed. In the church, the disconnection between what to do and what to receive reflects like in the misinterpretation of “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.” 1Cor 3:6 NIV. No matter what we do, God will give the results, so let us distribute pamphlets or do any other sterile activity, pretty much to act as good kids and deserve gifts from God.
Outputs not outcomes in a contractual society. The American culture is quite different from ours. The Pioneers imprinted a very different dynamic while willing to found a nation, not exploit the land to return rich to Europe. They worked hard expecting to see the results, but, unfortunately, their heirs were betrayed by the system. To work together and achieve common results, Americans have developed a contractual society in which the basis of freedom and rights lays on the clear establishment of the responsibilities of each part. This system has become so strong that it ceased to be an instrument to become a purpose in itself. It was to be expected that, in every part fulfilling its contractual responsibilities, the results would come, but this is the same thing as form the man from dust but not blow into his nostrils. The fulfillment of tasks cannot be, ultimately, regulated by a contract, should be for the result to be obtained. It is the passion for the fruits, the deep desire to see the product, hunger for the result, which should boost, model, quantify and direct the tasks. Without this, the feeling of having finished a task is fool vanity. The projects are departmentalized, people work disconnected from the result to be achieved, there is no longer true commitment to profit and the American Dream becomes a nightmare. It is urgent to go back to the time when the contract served the desire to produce results, when people were driven by the desire to see the fruits, when everyone had the vision, not just one person on the top floor of the building. At the church, singers sing, pastors preach, deacons help, believers sit, adolescents have fun, children play, teams travel, and all that never makes a full worship.
Organization not organism in individualistic societies. This, however, both cultures have in common, we believe in individuality. Modernity looked at the man as there was not seen yet. In 1879 the psychology was founded and this process accelerated until the Western worldview consists no longer of a people, church or family, but simply individuals. I think that the limit for this setting is absolutely prosaic: the members of the human body are connected by supporting ligaments, instead, the people, the church and the family does not. This is ridiculous in time of wireless, to consider as individuals things that are physically connected. Recently, neuroscience has shown, to the despair of psychology, that the mirror neurons makes up half of our brain and have the function of integrate persons in a neural network that shape collective individuals. About this, the Word of God has taught: "… in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others." Rom 12:5. Paul teaches that, in order to comprehend this truth, we must do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our mind. Unhappily, we lost the divine cosmovision of collective individuals, where persons are specialized members of the body of Christ, to see ourselves as collections of individuals trying to be self-sufficient, insisting in procedures, rules and organization and failing completely in being a productive organism. How horrible vision is the body of Christ dismembered because of having been seduced by the worldly idea that we are individuals and can function without being fully connected to each other. Without being, as the Philipians heard, like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind (Phi 2:2), Without being as Peter said, like-minded, sympathetic, loving one another, compassionate and humble (1Pet 3:8). No way! The whole body of Christ only grows when is joined and held together by every supporting ligament (Eph 4:16). Then, the task of each part drives to a fruitful work.
I am the true vine. Both, in the secular ambiance as in the Church, I discussed the idea of the inverted pyramid in leadership: empowerment instead of control. The workers in touch with the market at the top and the managers at the base. Many people thought that this romantic idea was the solution to leadership in the pass of fast changing XXI century. The problem is that this does not work. It is enough to see a picture of the inverted pyramid to quickly calculate that it has no support base. On the other hand, at the night when Jesus finally established the Church structure, he said 'I am the true vine'. A tree, not a pyramid. An organism, not an organization. A flat, simply, fully connected, and purpose driven ministry to God. In a tree like this, the Brazilian Church can overcome the disconnection between work and result, because all that the vine does is to produce fruit. In a tree like this, the American Church can unite the contracted parts and tasks in a productive whole. In a tree like this, we can all be just one body, for we have all one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all (Eph 4: 4-6).