Let’s be real. The furore around Arise Church is not really about overworking interns.
If it were, there would be many organisations / workplaces / churches under the same spotlight (Including my time heading up South Auckland YFC in the early 1990s where we had A-Oners and Y-Oners and Certain Sounds teams who were effectively ‘paying for the privilege’ of serving, training, travelling, working some long hours including staff on week-long camps with very little downtime. And all our full timers were also raising their own support!).
To clarify, the Cambridge Dictionary defines ‘Internship” as:
a period of time during which someone works for a company or organisation in order to get experience of a particular type of work
So the intern is generally unpaid, but gets some experience in a particular type of work. As mentioned, many organisations and industries use interns, including our media. There is benefit there for the intern, so long as they are gaining relevant work experience and they’re not taken advantage of (i.e. being used purely as free labour to perform menial tasks totally unrelated to the job or industry they seek. Read – mowing the boss’ lawn and trimming hedges is not part of gaining relevant work experience in a Christian church). The organisation must ensure that working conditions meet standards set by New Zealand law (particularly those to do with NZ employment law, plus health & safety in the workplace). The intern is making a sacrifice (of not being paid) in return for gaining valuable experience – ultimately it’s for them to decide if they are gaining enough valuable experience to compensate for their lack of income. They must also consider the workplace and culture, whether it’s fit for purpose.
To be clear – reviewing an organisation’s approach to worker / volunteer wellbeing is not a bad thing IF there is exploitation and unrealistic expectations of workers.
If the Arise Church furore was about disgruntled ex-members or volunteers who have left the place because they no longer adhere to the rules or don’t like the environment or leadership, well, you can find those at the local tennis club also. And many workplaces and most organisations.
And for what may be genuine and legitimate grievances, we have a biblical process of dealing with those scenarios; in addition there’s the Employment Relations Authority for employment grievances, and ultimately the Police (and Courts) for anything of a criminal nature. Nowhere should the preferred process involve feeding information to people or the media who clearly have no interest in strengthening the church (or organisation or workplace).
But let’s be real.
This furore is actually about organisations and especially churches who opposed the recent conversion therapy bill. The politicians who opposed it got it in the neck. We got it in the neck (I have some emails to prove just how nasty it got). But if you opposed the conversion therapy bill, you are now ‘Public Enemy #1’ to the identity politics woke brigade.
Life, City Impact, Arise – they all made a principled stand for biblical sexual morality. And now they’re being targeted and scrutinised.
Any other group or church or organisation who makes a stand against the radical left’s agenda around sexuality and gender ideology will also be a target.
Expect it. Take some concrete pills. The fiery furnace is being heated up. They want you to shut up. Don’t.
Sadly, some groups supported the conversion therapy bill. They voted to criminalise biblical sexual teaching and prayer ministry. And if they respond with “no, we just wanted to stop the coercive abusive stuff”, they obviously never read or understood the legislation.
Making a stand for biblical morality, especially on the sexuality issue, and especially in the current cultural and media climate, will be very costly. But we were warned.
John 15 – Jesus said:
25 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”
And John 12 – “they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”
Welcome to the club. It’s only going to get hotter. But it’s worth it to speak Truth to a culture desperately needing it.