Wednesday, April 17, 2013
"What did I ever do to You to deserve this?...Why tell me to carry them around like a nanny?
It's too much...If this is how You intend to treat me, do me a favor and kill me right now.
I've seen enough. I've had enough. Let me out of here."
Early one crisp spring Sunday morning on Cherry Street in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, a pastor and I were milling around in the sanctuary when a florist came in with flowers and asked, "How do you want these arranged?"
Hardly concealing a smile about to erupt in laughter, Stimp asked, "Well, bishop, whaaaaaddddaaaaaya think?"
Without missing his beat, I replied in kind, "Not sure, brother, 'cause I'm trying to recall what we studied about that in seminary."
He lost it.
The florist didn't..and, staying focused, repeated, "So how do you want these arranged?"
Modern ministry commences with a major misconception fed by seminaries - that anyone really cares about those courses on CPE, exegesis, ecclesiology, eschatology, evangelism, hermeneutics, homiletics, traditio-historical-ideological irrelevancies usually rarely incidentally related to Holy Scripture, missiology, pastoral psychotherapy, polity, Biblical languages, rhetoric, soteriology, and...
Modern ministry is more about babysitting than discipling; or as Dylan warned about religious-not-relational "Christians" expecting "an errand boy for their wandering desires."
Most clergy spend about seven or more years learning to disciple (nurturing Biblically Christocentric faith) after conversion (accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior).
But like sentences ending in prepositions, entry level pastors soon discover survival often depends more upon agreeing with the last person that they've talked to.
I remember a pastor about my age right now saying to me not long after it started officially on May 8, 1977, "You'll often have to decide whether you're going to be a good humor man and tell people what they want to hear or faithful enough to tell them what they need to know."
Buechner put it this way, "A prophet's quarrel with the world is deep-down a lover's quarrel. If they didn't love the world, they probably wouldn't bother to tell it that it's going to hell. They'd just let it go."
Are you willing to salt to save; or do you prefer salving to survive?
What's more important to you?
Being liked on their terms or loving on His terms?
Are you an existentialist or eternalist?
Really, every pastor - I prefer saying undershepherd to the Good Shepherd - makes that decision eventually with the inevitable consequences: "If any man would come after Me, let him..."
I don't like to admit it...buuuuuuut the more I scratch the surface of the Bible to find out what it's/He's all about and what we're supposed to be all about upon getting what it's/He's all about, the more I get being an undershepherd comes with a lotta expectations from Him about not toning down or watering down to get along with anyone who doesn't wanna be totally committed to Him in praise and thanks for who He is and what He's done for us.
Or something like that.
I guess Billy was right.
The big decision is followed by many smaller decisions that will or, uh, will not confirm if we've really made the big decision.
Getting back to Moses and the nanny church, God said, "Bring Me 70 elders who are known as leaders to you...I will take of the Spirit that is on you and put the Spirit on them. They will help you carry the burden of the people so that you will not have to carry it alone."
That's a good preface to the expanded revelations of interdependent ministry dependant upon God's calling/gifting in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, and...
That's His way of doing church.
Simply, identify gifts and unleash 'em!
Nanny churches - pseudo-churches in which "Pastor ___" controls/does, uh, everything - build unhealthy dependencies from God to themselves, enable idolatries to themselves that distract from the attention/affection/allegiance due God alone, and inhibit true evangelism setting the stage for the discipling that multiplies the undershepherds needed to increase the Kingdom "on earth as it is in heaven."
Let me put it another way.
We've identified and unleashed several elders/leaders who can lead worship and provide undershepherding care so that our family of faith on the corner of Lincoln and Main in Belvidere, Illinois is increasingly interdependent in dependence upon Him not, uh, me or anyone other than Him through His.
Aside from allowing me to exercise my Beruf/charismata as undershepherd that includes - in addition to my primary call to FPC to be the guiding-gatekeeping undershepherd - being a friend to pastors, fulfilling ordination promises to my judicatories, and taking missionary trips to evangelize/disciple/whatever, it allows time for my continuing intimacy with Him that increases the efficacy of my Beruf/charismata as...
Anyway, I was away this past Sunday; and, later in the evening, my youngest son poked, "Well, dad, if you keep letting other people lead worship for you and stuff like that, maybe they won't need you anymore."
I replied, "Good!"
While I'm beginning to get my role as noted in the second and third sentence-paragraphs of this section juxtaposed to Matthew 10, John 10, Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, and..., I know my role is integral yet not indispensable.
JB set the standard for undershepherds: "He must become greater. I must become less."
That includes identifying and unleashing gifts in an interdependent-upon-each-other-dependant-upon-Him kinda way.
Let me put in another way.
A little card was taped near our church's mailboxes for staff and officers: "It's not about you! It's about Him!"
I put it there.
I need to be reminded.
I suspect I am not alone.
Truly, I/we am/are not alone.
Blessings and Love!