From the smaller churches to the large mainstream denominations we encoutner a similar dilemma: not enough pastors.
As we move beyond the confines of our denomination, we meet with even more pastors and churches that struggle; they struggle to stay together, they struggle to stay alive, they struggle to make sense of why their good intentions and fervent desire to honour God does not quite cut it.
An American writer calls Christians idealists. We ought to be. We ought to hold tight to the ideals God gives us in Scripture: his promises of wonderful things, like the child and adder playing together given by prophet Isaiah. This kind of idealism keeps us dreaming and going. This kind of idealism calls us to remember that we are building a kingdom not of this world.
But there is another idealism that can be foolhardy. Such as these: it is enough to love someone (where love is to give strokes alone), or that pastors should all come in particular molds and walk even-paced and have radiant faces and perfect kids. Or that churches that are true and godly will not experience conflict. We may not admit to these ideals; but really, we cherish them and are scared our of our wits to realise they are not happening….
The latter kind of idealism and our glib use of important phrases like ‘by God’s grace’ sometimes just shuts down the critical thinking that is so needful to help us mature as a body. I suspect that this has some thing to do with our shortage of pastors. Pastors hold up ideals they cannot maintain (or stop trying altogether) while churches want the church as a spiritual entity to walk on cloud-nine. There is enough unsustainable idealsim between these two poles to crush many a tender soul and sabotage any godly process as we get impatient with each other (and dare I say, God?).
Since the church is made of each of us; we each have the rsponsibility to make it work and grow and accomplish her glorious mission – as we follow Christ and obey the Spirit. Some of us do this as members, some of us as leaders. But we must accept and embrace our calling and place and do our part.
God is maturing His church and preparing for His Son a wondrous Bride. That is an ideal ! Do you believe it?