Tiptoeing Around The Believers, Or Balancing The Scales

I’m out of town this whole week, so I’ve scheduled a few posts. If this is your first time here when I’m on vacation I polish off the posts stalled in draft-land and offer them as b-sides. I will likely not be able to reply to comments til the end of the month. 

A little while into my job search now, I’ve begun to consider just about everything possible I could do for income. Included in that brainstorming has been applying to work for a church.

It didn’t take me long to realize just how horrible I’d be at church work – I’d dismantle all the programs, try to ask questions and spark discussion during the Sunday sermon, and I’d loan out questionable books to parishioners. Not to mention when this blog would be discovered by the members I’d be ousted for sure.

I read a few blogs by pastors and other church workers, and when I do get this feeling that they’re restrained. They can’t really write everything they want to – if they say any number of things or align themselves with any number of causes that may differ from their flock they’ll be in hot water. They have to watch what they say. It’s almost as if they’re allowed to write Our Daily Bread style stuff but aren’t entitled to any opinions on any current issues (because that’s possible!) – for fear of choosing incorrectly.

This got me thinking about the dynamic between the pastor and the people. The pastor is of course there to serve the people, but does that mean he/she can only say people-pleasing things? That’s certainly not a healthy church. The people need the pastor to lead – meaning the people need the pastor to pull them forward into uncomfortable places. They need him to be the vision, to see when it’s foggy.

Should we be like one of these? Full steam ahead?

So which is it? Does the pastor cater to the people or does he constantly push them out into rush hour traffic?

What I’m finding more and more is that this isn’t an answer a) or answer b) . The answer almost always lies in between, somewhere foggy enough that both answers blur into one.

In college I kept coming back to this idea that everything is a balance and my youth leader said “be careful – I know plenty of people who say that’s where the devil wants you – not going for either hot or cold but luke warm.” It’s that mentality of there is no balanced Christian life – you just charge full steam ahead and love extremely. We are supposed to be over the top.

So what do you think – do you think our faith is more of a balance or a foray into the extreme?

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9 Responses to Tiptoeing Around The Believers, Or Balancing The Scales

  1. Faith is a fight.

    Pastors are expected to always be victorious in the fight. The rest of us are allowed to slip up.

    Our youth Sunday School lessons (sorry, Charlie, I know ya hate em) lately have been about leadership. Becoming a leader.

    It’s been tough for me to know how to present the concept that leaders are called to a higher standard. Because, honestly, I don’t believe that. I believe we’re all called, if that’s the right word, to an equal standard.

    The idea of “better Christians” and “normal Christians” bothers me. I believe that every Christian should be just as worried about following Christ fully as the pastor is “worried” about it.

    To me, the idea that a pastor can’t voice thoughts that might be interpreted wrong but a lay person can is offensive. That’s one of the reasons pastors blow up and burn out. They encounter the same internal struggles that Charlie does, that I do, and they have nowhere to turn with their questions. Or, at least, they feel like they have nowhere.

    And that’s very, very unfortunate.

    Hope Charlie is having fun… 🙂

    • Gotta say Amen to that Bernard. I struggle with the idea that people are allowed to pop off to me about me, but if I dare say anything in the “correction” mode, I am castigated. It comes with the territory, I know, but that doesn’t make it any better.

  2. David says:

    Good question, faith is not free. It takes trial and adversity, as well as mountain top experiences to form it. Deep faith is really intimacy with God as described in Song of Songs.

    Me, I want a pastor (leader – because I think the church suffers from not having a 5-fold leadership model Eph 4:11) that hears God and does it. I don’t give a crap about what he thinks, or what programs a church has. We don’t need any debate, those should all be resolved in prayer. I don’t care who comes or how many come, nor how they dress. I am there to engage the living God, and serve him because I love Him. Under good leadership, that service should be fulfilling – and though challenging, I am there.

    I am content to say that my pastor spends a lot of time with the Lord, and does hear him. He works hard to be in the Spirit during a service and other times as well. He’ll stop worship, or preaching when nudged by the Holy Spirit to let someone else participate. They share words of knowledge for healing, prophecy, and some timely nuggets of revelation from the Word of God. Not everyone gets to the mic, but in home-groups they can express what the Lord is saying under the mentorship of seasoned elders.

    We are not perfect, and some of the regular church stuff still happens. People come from other places and don’t know what biblical freedom and grace are. Many have not been trained to hear God, to love by their actions, or be in solid relationship.

    Disciplship is messy, but it’s worth it.

    If Sunday morning is just a place to voice a personal opinion, or share some nice Christian platitudes after singing a few nice Christian songs or hymns, then I think that church is missing the mark.

  3. “Many have not been trained to hear God” – contrasted by “my sheep will know my voice.”

    The only training we need to hear God should come from God. Check Damascus road and Paul’s subsequent desert experiences.

    • David says:

      I will respectfully disagree. God speaks in many ways, the word, prophecy, audibly, circumstances, in prayer, the church etc.. The training is in teaching others to know what they are, and help them in discerning the voice of God. For example, Samuel heard the voice of God, but didn’t recognize it until he was instructed by Eli, the chief priest (1 Samuel 3:1-10)

  4. Larry Hughes says:

    Here is my take.

    I have noticed the pastor walks a thin line and on egg shells in their congregations not to offend any one. That is one of the reasons I was not ever able to become a pastor. Never was much of a diplomat and I have always stated what I thought no matter whose toes was stepped on. But I always spoke the truth to others. Never sugar coated an issue.

    In a corporate management structure, it got me rapid advancements to the top. In the spiritual culture, I am afraid I made enemies but I spoke what was the truth. People for the most part I believe are too thin skinned and do not want to hear of their faults or errors. Sadly, people need to hear the truth in order to correct their errors. One just has to work with words in order not to totally destroy others ego when they have to be spoken the truth or corrected.

  5. Su says:

    Extreme. Definitely. But my husband heard the same (or something similar) when he was in college for ministry: Don’t go into a church talking about this stuff (the issues they were struggling with) or you’ll upset the old people and the church will fall apart. The second part is probably true, but there’s a big part of me that thinks a church that is that shaky probably needs to fall apart. :/ Yep, that’s me, bringer of joy and light.

  6. Pingback: I Am But A Pile Or Garbage Rotting In The Desert Sun, Or The Dichotomy Of Moving Mountains | Charlie's Church of Christ

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