Monday, January 25, 2010
"I Will Build Jesus' Church"
I have a theory that I hope is wrong.
There is a lot of talk at conferences, on blogs and in books about how pastors need to take care of their marriages and families. This is a good subject and I am glad people are talking about it. But I am wondering why we are talking about this so much nowadays. Why the need to talk about this so much now? I do not think the answer is simple and flat. It is possibly multilayered and very complex but I have a sneaky suspicion about one reason in particular.
Today's pastor is expected to be almost anything but a pastor. He is leader and CEO par excellance. He is not only the man charged with steering the boat - keeping it afloat but he is also the program director in charge of drawing people onto the ship. He is a manager with a winsome personality. Therefore pastor search committees best be looking for Type A types.
As Eugene Peterson writes, "If we all get caught up in running the store, who will be the pastor?" Well, my guess is the guy running the store will do his best to be. He will sacrifice his "off days" and time with his family to do all this. Thus the need for all the talks about family health.
He has bought into a subtle new and improved version of the first lie. "You shall as be as God for your people. You will save them. You are responsible so you better be responsible. It is up to you and that is why attendance has been down. Work harder. You are the Messiah for this congregation. Save them with your works." Of course just like the first lie this one contains a significant amount of truth. That is why it is so hard to counter.
No one really believes what should be the hope-building words of Jesus when he says, "I will build my church." "No, no, no Jesus. We got that. At the expense of our families and marriages and friendships we do the ministry."
I suppose one issue making a pastor's marriage and family are so important a subject is because they are an example to the rest of the congregation and the larger community. Yep, maybe. But even more is the example of the pastor's belief that God is the one who saves and Jesus will build the Church. But is it any wonder our people struggle with grace? When we are willing to sacrifice our families on the altar of ministry, should we wonder?
No one says it outright and most of the time all this is so subtle and so harmless looking, we never really see it happening. But let's stop and think. It seems like nothing is happening at your church. It needs a boost, right? New program! New event! More work. (By the way, no one ever suggests more prayer...unless praying about a new event or program.)
We are like bloggers who want more readers so we start doing giveaways. Why should our people buy into grace if the pastor and the leadership of their church cannot stop working and planning at the expense of their wife and kids? We tell them to stop working for their salvation. Why? Because Jesus did all that was necessary for us to be saved. We just relax in his love and grace and believe the the good news. We then tell them Jesus will build his church but we need a new program so people will be excited and more people will come in.
And lets face it, not so far deep down we want to look really, really busy.