Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Mark Galli, a Christianity Today editor points out that many of the pastors he has observed at this year's National Pastors Convention in the US seem to harbour "a simmering anger about the church" (read it all in his blog posting, "Pastors as Lovers")
Having been a pastor himself, he understands that the primary cause of this slow burn are the people that make up the flock. It is not a problem unique to Western Christianity, but is just as real here in Singapore. I'm quite sure many pastors have thought, "I love the church, but its the people in the church that I can't stand."
I am sure that the reasons for this can be complex, but I can't help but think how it boils down to how most pastors view their people. They mistakenly believe that change is the natural outcome of good preaching, teaching and leading. The cause and effect thinking that if we just give them good teaching, they will be transformed. Yet what happens is that we run up against the reality of the bound will, and get frustrated when our best efforts seem to fall on deaf ears.
The irony is that Pastors conferences heap on the misery when they continue to exhort these weary pastors to just do more of the same. Galli says, "I just wish that at NPC, more of the presenters would not have fed the anger with calls for revolutionizing this and transforming that, which only puts more guilt and even more unrealistic expectations on the shoulders of men and women in pastoral leadership..."
I've been there, done that, but refused to buy the t-shirt because who wants to be reminded of his inadequacies and failings? Ironically, Galli's prescription to "love the church" may not be any more soothing to tired souls. How can a bruised, beaten up shepherd, rise up and love his flock. I believe that it is only when he receives the love of the Shepherd, that he can rise up and love others. After all it is only love that can beget love. Christ said to "love as I have loved you." And to be fair to Galli, he sort of instinctually understands this. He points out towards the end of the of his blog post that the healing and renewal he had received in past conferences came because of the opportunities he found to commiserate with fellow sufferers, and the fact that he found sympathetic listeners amongst the walking wounded. Love indeed births goodness.