I once heard a description of a man and then the question was asked would you employ him as your pastor?
- He is in his early 30’s
- He enjoys spending time with thieves & prostitutes
- He once was in a house where there were so many people the roof was damaged!
- He once destroyed the furniture inside a religious building in a fit of rage!
- He enjoys arguing with religious figures and lawmakers.
- He was kicked out of a town because he killed off a whole herd of pigs.
- He loves telling stories which confuse some people.
Or would you employ this man?
- Violent character- physically assaulted a member of the army
- Known to be dishonest and disown friends without much hesitation.
- Has a lack of faith when its needed most!
On Tuesday, I read the first three chapters of 1 Corinthians and discussed them with my wife, what amazed me was the number of times Paul reiterated the fact that, what the world considers “wise” and however much people strive to acquire “factual knowledge”, God uses the “foolish”, the “weak”, the “uneducated” to shame them! “Preaching” is considered foolish and silly but I believe Paul was saying that it is more effective, and I agree with him! “Preaching” the fact that Jesus lived, he died for us, and we need to actually respond and act in a way that shows that to others is more effective than quoting 5 different scholars and theologians in a sermon!
When I was in South Africa with my parents, they expected one of us to preach each night (they have church almost every night! Why don’t we?) Some evenings, I did not have the foggiest what to talk about but with the Holy Spirit’s help I was able to share what I have learnt about the nature and love of God, and what God expects of us! I am the only one of my family without a degree/diploma “under my belt” and although this used to niggle me, I am no less able to understand the will of God than any of my parents or siblings!
Its bizarre, what qualifications some churches expect of their leaders/ministers but have no problem with the following:-
- You can lead a worship band and link songs with a short word or comment.
- You can lead a sunday school group/youth group with no actual “bible-college” training. (Isn’t it more necessary?)
- You can lead a Family service
- You can pray for people/lead intercessory prayers (some things that get said at these times are weird!)
- In the Anglican Church you can have a theology that may not agree with half the other priests (you can even be an Atheist apparently as some see it as just a job!?) as there is a union of minds and certain things you will be in agreement with but others you can disagree with.
Jesus called his disciples from where they were, at no point did he say “OK, if you want to follow me you need to do this course, you need to do …”, I know some things are a necessity in this day and age (like criminal record checks), but if you discover someone was in prison for stealing or fraud, would this make you not allow them to serve in your church? What Would Jesus Do?
Paul has a list of qualifications for deacons and I spoke about them before
- Husband of one wife (not an adulterer)
- Children who are respectful and not unruly (if you are unable to bring up “good children” who are physically yours, how can you expect to guide the “children of God” who are put into your care?)
- Able to teach.
- Not a drunkard.
- Be well thought of by those around them.
- Not a recent convert.
- Not a gossip.
- Not obsessed with money.
- Not violent.
How many church leaders would fail at one of these, how many would fail at most of these. We have no right to judge, but instead of churches wanting a leader with a doctorate or a degree in theology or anything, should we actually be looking at their heart and their nature? As surely whatever they believe and profess, needs to be displayed in their day to day actions! One church I was in came up with a “members constitution” and I sat and read it thinking “this is a wish list! I cannot agree to be a member if this is what they think the church is like!”
I know we all have different gifts and abilities, not all of us are capable of speaking from the front but some of us are great at “pastoral work”, offering support and direction to those who need it. When I was exploring getting into ministerial training, someone said to me “Can you do what you think God is calling you to do, without being a church leader?” If you explore your options and discover you can, then you may be better off going down that route, some current church leaders need to take a long hard look at themselves too and ask “is this truly the best place for me to serve God? Am I still being of use or am I just “coasting” in a position where i am being no longer of any effect?” If you refuse to move on you may be preventing the someone else from doing the job that God has called them to do!
Just in case you didn’t realise the first man was Jesus and the second was Peter now would you employ them? 😉