Most Monday mornings I feel like resigning. Did I explain God’s Word well enough? Was my sermon understandable? Was I faithful to the biblical text? Should I have used more illustrations? Would another minister do a better job? Is it all worth it?
Monday morning blues can be quite typical for those in the ministry of the Word. I constantly need to remind myself that the success of the church is definitely not up to me (thank goodness!). I need to remind myself of the calling and confidence of the church.
The big question the REACH SA Generate Conference sought to answer was, “How should the church (and how we do church) respond to a changing culture?”
The answer was that we must “make sure we know why we exist and remain faithful to that; and feel free to change the rest.”
We exist to reach non-Christians and grow Christians with the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. That truth is fundamental and unchangeable. How we manage the programmes and processes that go towards that great goal are flexible and changeable.
I’m sure you know of the couple who woke up one Sunday morning and the wife said to her husband, “Get up or you will be late for church!” Her husband replied, “I really don’t feel like going to church and I don’t like the church people that much anyway. Give me 3 reasons why I should go this morning.” The wife responded, “Number 1: Church is beneficial because your hear God’s Word. Number 2: The people at church actually care for you. 3. And number 3: You’re the pastor!”
It sounds like that church may not be the spiritually healthiest church around – at least not the minister! Of course we should not expect perfect churches because churches are made up of sinful people. We are forgiven, but not sinless. God doesn’t call Christians and churches to perfection, but he does call us to make progress.
We live in an age of professionalism and specialisation. If our air-con breaks we phone the air-con specialist. If our child is sick, we don’t go to the GP but the paediatrician – who sends us to another specialist. If the bulb goes in our car’s headlamp, cars today are so sophisticated, we often have to take the car to the specialist at the dealer to replace a simple bulb.
Even in the church, the minister is seen to be the professional. The thinking is that we need ministry done – so we pay the minister to do the ministry. If he does his job well we are happy and might put more money in the thank-offering.
Ephesians 4:11-12 breaks this Christian professional mindset. It says,
(v11) And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, (v12) to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ…
We might be tempted to view churches with big attendance figures or large membership registers as successful. After all, they must be doing something right? Very often it’s the mega-church pastors that get asked to speak at conferences on church-growth and whose services are recorded for TBN. Mega-churrch pastors often write books that share their “secret” with the rest of us mediocre pastors.
Mega-churches may be very successful, but they also may not be.