How can pastors foster change in church? Not the kind placed in offering plates, but change of another sort. Change—alteration in character, attitude, and behavior, and the priceless gift of a new, or at least better, world.
Many people are rightly agonizing over volatile financial markets and companies defaulting on their fiscal promises. There should be equal or greater concern about the balances in our moral accounts, lest insufficient funds lead to bankruptcy of our souls and foreclosure on the common good. Often when we think about mechanisms for social change, we conjure images of Washington politicians and Wall Street profits. Yet, to fix our broken world, we need more than profits. We need prophets—faithful, fearless people willing to invest in social change through prophetic proclamation in word and deed.
As Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel astutely suggested, prophets are more interested in knowing what they see than in seeing what they know. Do we see the tragedy of the wealthiest nation in the world failing to provide health insurance for its most vulnerable citizens? Do we see the irony of building state-of-the-art prisons while our public schools have to beg legislatures for financial support? Do we see how many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people suffer emotional and physical violence, while many churches and cultural institutions remain eerily silent about their civil rights and moral equality? The priceless change so desperately needed in our world will arise when we are less concerned about making profits and more concerned about becoming prophets.