Friday, May 28, 2010

Link: Internet Monk--my issues with evangelicalism part 2, pastoral ministry

I'm not sure I have anything to add about this at this time. Maybe later. An interesting link.
Well, okay, I was at a church where the pastor was a combination of drill seargant, CEO, visionary leader, and spiritual technician. At some point he was a shopkeeper type and figured out that was harming his health (though in many ways he probably didn't shake that off for a while). He also has master of ceremonies elements. Though many parishoners viewed (and view) him as a professor type actual professors have taken issue with his handling of biblical texts (not that I necessarily agree with those).

Every pastor may have dribs and drabs of each of the qualities Chaplain Mike outlined but the pastor at a church I was at earlier was a heavy mixture of drill seargant, CEO, visionary, and technician. Those are all potentially immensely positive qualities. Over time, though, the qualities that became most prominent to me were the drill seargant and the technician.

With these sorts of gifts come these sorts of weaknesses. I don't pretend that those qualities aren't gifts but they come with a price tag and the price tag can be that after a decade it's easy to see a slogan like "it's all about Jesus" read as though it really says "it's all about numbers" when annual reports essentially amount to a "look how much we've grown" sales pitch. I know that is something people can get excited about but I'm not the kind of guy to have much enthusiasm for that. My enthusiasm lights up when I see people are learning things about the scriptures they didn't know before and seeing them strengthened in their faith. Seeing people challenged by the difficulties of the biblical texts but not being thrown off by them is what encourages me. I suppose a person might rightly suggest that that all suggests my gifts are less with preaching (amen) and more in something like teaching (yeah, I guess so).

What Chaplain Mike's post points to, and especially comments in response, is that evangelicalism in America has a propensity to go for a type or to search for a pastor who fits the all-in-one label. The megachurch pastors tend to have all or most of the elements Chaplain Mike talked about. There's vision-casting (double ugh for me), there's the drill seargant rebukes of the cadets who aren't passing muster, there's the technician to explain to them the five simple steps to get `er done, and, well, those are theoretically nice qualities but the all-in-one pastor risks setting a precedent by example of being the body when the body should be the body.

Of course I still consider myself evangelical. I just find it immensely useful to be more aloof to evangelicalism and aspects of it than others who still identify themselves by that jargon.

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