People often wonder what it's like to be a pastor. It's simultaneously the most fun and most frustrating thing in the world. Many days are exhausting but very few days are filled with back breaking physical labor. One of the challenges of being a pastor, at least a pastor with an obsessive personality, is that I am constantly thinking about the church. And by constantly I literally mean virtually non-stop. There is not an hour of my life that goes by where I don't think of the church in some capacity. I don't just go to church for an hour or two a week, but the church haunts me. Sometimes, there aren't enough hours in the day to ruminate on the life of the church so my mind keeps working when it should be asleep. So I thought I would simply share three quick thoughts I have about church life that I've been having recently that are keeping me up at night.
1. Who Would we Strive to Reach if we Reached the People in Front of our People?
Chances are the church I pastor is not going to reach many Bulgarian Grandmothers with the gospel of Christ because no one in my church knows a Bulgarian Grandmother. Who do we know? Those people we actually know, who our lives intersect with on a regular basis, are our first (but by no means only) mission field. So, if we were in a community of Bulgarian Grandmothers, how would we reach out to them? What songs would we sing? What language would we speak? What about their culture would we affirm and what would we confront? Obviously, those are questions any decent missionary would ask, so how do we transpose those questions onto a (predominantly) white middle class materialistic Southern society that still carries with it the ghost of Cultural Christianity? Who are your people around every day that they can personally share the gospel with and invite to church? Some churches are full of poorer people who can reach poorer people, others are full of educated professionals who know other educated professionals. Whoever those people happen to be they are, by God's sovereign plan at this point in your church's history, your target.
2. What Would We Do If We Did What We Are Gifted To Do?
Many churches take a lot of flack for "doing what they've always done". In some ways that complaint is warranted and in others it isn't, but the role of pastor is to help equip his congregation for the work of the ministry. The ministries your church should be pursuing are the ministries that line up with the gifts your members have. HERESY ALERT - If you don't have someone competent in leading a choir why do you have a choir? Every church will not look and act the same because not every church has the same gifts present. The gifts you do have present in your congregation are the gifts that need to be confirmed and unleashed in your church. Anyone who has ever sat in a Sunday School class with a teacher who obviously didn't have the gift of teaching knows how miserable it is to see square pegs crammed in round holes. Why do we do that? Because we have to? Who says? God's word says that we should let people serve in the areas they are gifted and we will all be better for it.
3. How Would We Function If We Ministered to the World the Way It Is And Not The Way We Wanted It To Be?
We are Christians. We want people to believe the Bible and love the church. We want people to want to be in church three times a week (or more) the way they were in the 1950's, but it isn't the 1950's and people's minds don't function that way and their schedules aren't organized that way anymore. Like it or not, that's our reality. What many churches do is look at the world the way they want it to be, or more often the way it used to be, and organize their church to reach that imaginary world and then get mad at the world and cast blame at it because the church is ineffective.
Just think about it.