Escape the Zero-Sum Ministry Priorities Game

| March 25, 2015

“How can you justify supporting ballet when there are children dying every day from starvation, disease, and neglect?” J. T. asked, filling the car with tension. Since I was sitting in the back seat and he was driving, I couldn’t see his face, but I didn’t need to in order to know that this was not an idle inquiry. 

After several agonizing years, and at great personal expense, he and his wife had recently adopted two boys from Ethiopia. He knew the global need and the gospel call to care for orphans, and he didn’t want to see our church reduce our contribution to that cause one bit. And that made our church’s decision to invest in a faith-and-work initiative seem problematic.

It would be tempting to write off his dismissal of the arts as the result of clashing contexts. J. T. is a project manager for a mid-sized construction company in central Pennsylvania. He’s a former football player and still walks with a bit of an athletic swagger. Admittedly, ballet is not his thing.

But to reject his question as merely a failure to appreciate art wouldn’t be fair to him or the issue he raised. He is driven by his aching…

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