17 July 2006

Are We Called to Be Nice?

There is something going on right now that really has me torn. I know of a fulltime paid pastor who is on the verge of losing their job. On a personal level, this person is great to be around. If there were more hours in the day, I'm that there could actually be a good friendship there. The problem is ministry. This person just can't seem to stop doing things wrong. I don't mean the subjective, "I don't like how they do this" type of wrong. I'm talking about stuff that has to be done a certain way by a certain time and things that are just non-negotiable.

I've worked with this person in the past and have become extremely frustrated. After a few failed attempts, I tried to change my approach. I tried be understanding of this person's situation and not get so uptight about stuff.

One area was music in the context of worship. I admit, I used to be really hard on people who weren't totally prepared for rehearsal, service, etc. Then I started to look at the leader who was supposed to provide the direction and resources and saw that they just constantly dropped the ball. So i offered my help in preparation and they refused. Other people involved took some leadership responsibilities and even devised ways of keeping things more organized. A website was created some time ago that was to serve as a place for people to get the song lists and sheet music for the week. However, the leader (fulltime, paid pastor), who had tons of help offered from unpaid, stressed out volunteers, refused the help and wouldn't get the songs out until people showed up to practice an hour or so before the service. Then the person would have the audacity to not even know how to play songs, asking others how it's played. And on, and on, and on...

Other relatively minor things are also constant irritants. NEVER on time for anything. NEVER prepared for anything. Flat out missing dates and times for important things. Just complete chaos surrounds this person and they are oblivious. They have no idea the stress they cause others by their actions. Then there is the big one. The thing that makes everything pale in comparison. Discipling young people.

I can't even (and won't) get into how much more harm than good this person has done to the high school students around them. Some junior kids, too. But, this person is actually great with junior high kids. So much so, that our high school kids are starving for real discipleship. There have many many times where this individual has almost been fired. Too many times. When is enough, enough? Where do we draw the line?

The kingdom of God is not (only) about numbers, but numbers do matter because numbers represent people. In over five years, our congregation has grown significantly while the youth ministry has barely budged. Spiritual growth may be cited, but I credit the parents of the particular kids with that; they are growing in spite of what is (or isn't) going on in youth ministry. Over five years. That's an entire "generation" of high school students.

Grace? Yes. Love? Yes. Mercy? Yes. Plenty of those things have been given to this individual. What about the Grace, love, and mercy for the kids? When do we stop being nice and trying to save face and realize that this person needs to go? For the sake of these kids and the kids that won't come anymore because of it?

Call me "divisive" or whatever else you want. It's the truth and it hurts. And I have to get it out (again) before I explode.

10 July 2006

Everybody Wake Up

There's a song by Dave Matthews called, "Everybody Wake Up" that has the following lines:

And our finest hour arrives
See the pig dressed in his finest fine
And believers stand behind him and smile
As the day lights up with fire

Now, I know that he is most likely referring to our president, but the first thought that came to mind was "Is he talking about preachers?" Notice I didn't say pastors, but preachers.

Today, there are far too many preachers and not enough pastors. These morons on TBN, Daystar, and The WORD Network aren't pastors (most of them, not all). They preach for selfish gain and to be noticed. But, I'm not even going there today.

What about pastors of local congregations who fall into the trap of asthetics? What about worrying to much about the delivery of the sermon? Imagine staying up late Saturday night/early Sunday morning and practicing your sermon. I don't mean running through it outloud pacing back and forth in your living room. I mean actually in the pulpit, rehearsing every word, hand gesture, joke, even down to which side of the congregation you will look to after a certain comment. Rehearsed exortations, and repetitions (repeating yourself so you can get an amen; also known as an ego boost).

Then there is the other end of the spectrum. Ripping off someone else's sermons so you don't have to do your own work. Personal communication with God and drawing from your own experience will always be more effective than the most well-rehearsed and polished piece of plagiarism. That's why testimonies are so powerful; they are about as tangible as you can get when it comes to proof of God's work among his people.

Yet the pigs continue to dress in their finest fine while people go to hell and fall away from God.