Sean-Martin and I remember going to a church which seemed the quintessential example of this. (We lasted a while but ultimately had to bail.) When I look back, the thing that is most disconcerting to me is the way that pastor who, for all intents and purposes WAS the church, was actually the only one allowed to DEFINE what ministry even was, how it should be implemented, who should implement it, yada, yada, yada...
The man was in love with his programs, and he was the one who decided whether or not they were working. I've never been to a place that browbeat a congregation like that into working so many programs. This guy just wore people OUT, starting with his wife. His wife was and still IS a big supporter, because that's what Godly women do, I guess. Anyone who questioned him was deemed UNgodly--aka ME. He told me that I hadn't been "discipled" as far as he could see and that I needed to attend one of his discipleship classes.
You remember Bible college, Cody? Remember Old Testament Survey? Did you NOT get choked up when you stood at that burning bush and realized that "I AM" STILL IS? I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure if my professor had given an altar call, I'd have gone forward! FOR SURE! Bible college rocked. It was truly the place of my birth.
There are a million little pieces of lives weaved together, equipped and commissioned to be Christ on this earth and to further God's kingdom right here--right now. What a slap in the face of the Holy Spirit who has--with the power of a mighty, rushing wind--led, comforted, taught, admonished, healed, prepared, AND DISCIPLED all of us who are willing to be about our Father's business. I would like to say, "So what if some pastor isn't secure enough within himself to 'Let go and let God...'" But people get sucked into this. People get burned out (and subsequently BLAMED) from implementing all these programs and meetings and Sunday school and bringing the donuts and setting up the chairs and folding the bulletins. Does anybody really get saved over a Boston creme and a cup of Maxwell House? Really?
C'mon, people! Put your arms around somebody! Make someone a lasagna! Babysit for free! Pop somebody five bucks! Feed, clothe, visit. Ministry is JUST not that complicated! It doesn't necessarily have to occur underneath that steeple. Our silly, little efforts to make it harder than it really is is only a ploy to elevate ourselves in this crazy hierarchy of importance in a social network of knuckleheads! Put the donuts down, folks! Step away from the bulletins! Just remember what Christ has done for you, and go do it for other people. It doesn't have to be during the ten o'clock hour on Sunday morning. In fact, just to be different, make sure it's on a Thursday at, like, five! Get crazy! Be creative! Act like one of those teenagers Jesus chose!
Cody, I'm posting your blog post on my blog and my response. I'd like to get MY social network of knuckleheads in on this discussion too! :)
Love you, brother. Congratulations on getting all those funds raised for your trip! Can't WAIT for all the great writing that is going to come out of THAT!
Take care of yourself--and somebody else!