Our fearless leader, Dr. Youngblood, really gave a thought-provoking post on Monday. She sent us in the group a message prior to it being published, that we should read it with an open mind. If you missed it, you can catch it here. It really is a good read, and it makes you think.
At least, it made me think. For as long as I can remember, people have said that I was going to be a preacher. It is in my family line, but then again,, who DOESN’T have some kind of preacher in their family line? I never paid it any attention until I had my own encounter with God in my car one night, where I know for certain that he wanted me to preach His Gospel. I also came away from that encounter knowing that at some point I would Pastor a church. The funny thing about God, though, is that He will often give you the endgame, but never tell you about the sometimes long and winding road that you will take to get there. So, while I waited impatiently, I have served under Pastors. My experience in the “Black” church has been so different from my experience in the “Interracial” Church, and as I reflect on what Marta wrote on Monday, I hope that she won’t be too offended that I simply piggyback on the wisdom that she dropped, because it is so very relevant.
The church has had an unhealthy relationship with the office of the Pastor for a very long time. I say that it is unhealthy, because it has fostered a culture where the Pastor of a church is the end all, be all. This is not what Jesus intended when he left this office to men. Ephesians 4:6 says explicitly that Apostles, Prophets, Pastors, Evangelists, and Teachers were given to the church for the “equipping of the saints.” They were not given to be revered or placed on pedestals. When I was in the “Black” church, I saw these pedestals front and center. Even as an associate minister, we were trained early on that we had to conduct ourselves in a way that brought no shame to the office, to the pulpit. Women weren’t allowed in the pulpit, and don’t even get me started there. Pastors had bible bearers, and people would bring money to the pulpit for them as they spoke. This always grieved my heart, because while I am a big believer that we should honor our leaders, we take it too far when we give them the mindset that they are above us, not one of us.
So imagine my shock and awe when we moved to Missouri and began to worship and serve in an environment where the Pastor admitted his mistakes, or never took credit for anything. Imagine how hard it was to get used to the actual idea of team ministry being implemented in away where everyone felt valuable? I have ben exposed to an arena where it feels like the New Testament church, where the Apostles worked in tandem with those who came alongside them. The Book of acts is rife with example after example of what ministry is supposed to look like. Nowhere do we see the Apostles, or Jesus for that matter, needing people to do things for them that they could do for themselves.
When this begins to happen, pride takes root, and then we see a generation who hates the church because of the “god” worship of men and women who put their pants on in the same way that we do everyday. We see a generation of people who may never come to Christ, because we have a steel curtain up in our pulpits and refuse to understand that even getting to God in the Old Testament was as “easy” as going behind a cloth veil. This is an affront to God’s intent. I have learned by watching and serving that a Pastor is not having his things carried, but rather is carrying the things of others. A Pastor is not being celebrated on the shoulders of his parishioners, but rather trying to do all that he or she can to carry and celebrate those he serves 24/7. When we get it twisted, and engage in anything other than a biblical perspective, we begin to see all of the scandals that have rocked churches and pulpits worldwide.
I wanted to be a Pastor who wore suits so multicolored, that Joseph would toss his robe down in shame at how poor he looked compared to me. I wanted to be a Pastor who preached to millions and made people dance in the aisles. I would have people bring my Bible and my water. I would be a Pastor who was part of the problem, part of the culture that is in truth, anti God, and pro position. I thank God that He moved me, sat me down, and reprogrammed me over this past 7 years. When my wife and I accepted a position with our church as OutReach Pastors in the spring, our only motives were to go what Jesus would do if He were here right now.
For me to get to that frame of mind, I had to have an honest conversation with myself about my relationship with God’s calling. Was I worshiping what it could get me? Or was I worshiping the One who called me as I served in it? Are we, as laymen and parishioners in the church, holding our leaders accountable? Or are we too busy drinking the Kool-Aid to make them pull the curtains back and be accountable to Christ for equipping us Biblically to change a world that is rapidly decaying? I pray that the eyes of our understanding are opened.