In the current book I have been reading they used a phrase I have never heard before but I found quiet spot on. They referred to a group of church people as “protectionists” I wondered if they made it up. A Google search later I learned that protectionists is a noun that means “The advocacy system, or theory of protecting domestic producers by impeding or limiting, as by tariffs or quotas, the importation of foreign goods and services” It is a term used in economics.
The definition has some church similarities too. The way the author was using it was to describe those people within a congregation who protect certain church buildings, rooms, or other items. These are the people who are the protectors of the parlor, the defenders of the doilies, they protect the fine tablecloths from ternary, and they are the guardians of…well…”stuff”.
These are the people, and every church has them, who don’t want the good tablecloths used because children may spill juice on them (because older people never EVER spill anything!). They are the ones who want banners to stay on walls forever because they were donated by Mr. and Mrs. Legacy and they would roll over in their graves if they ever came down. They hold down the status quo and are road blocks for change.
Protectionists believe they are doing what is right for the church. They are protecting the church from what they deem as harmful and heresy. What they don’t realize is in the midst of their protecting they are turning those items into idols. At some point tablecloths are more important than welcoming children. Couches in the parlor are too good to be used for a bride to get ready on. They are turning things into holy objects that are to be worshiped They are creating idols.
What is more important to a church, hospitality or clean tablecloths or couches? What looks more inviting, new carpet or the old 1970’s green that has faded in the sunlight over these 40 years? Nothing should be more important than bringing people to Christ. No building nor the objects within them is more important then our mission to follow Jesus, make disciples and transform the world.
Protectionists out there…what are you protecting? Have you created your own golden calf?