With recent scandals surrounding Carl Lentz and Hillsong Church, Bill Hybels, and Tulian Tchividjian I can’t get the church out of my mind. These events leave me frustrated at how many (maybe the majority) of Christian leaders seem to be missing the point in their vocation as pastor.
Did Jesus envision a world of thinly disguised businessmen and entrepreneurs acting as pastors to an increasingly divided congregation? Where programs and projects and buildings are more of the focus than the consistent, messy, and often frustrating attention on tending to people's souls?
I can’t help but think that we’ve all missed the mark and fallen short of the simple life that Jesus showed us how to live.
Was Jesus into big and loud and boisterous? Big vision casting of changing the world? Did he rally the troops and chant worship anthems from the rooftops or was he found in the quiet, personal moments of writing in the dirt, helping the vulnerable and broken know that they were loved—that they mattered?
Was it through his careful attention to “church growth” steps that his ministry grew and took over the world? Or perhaps it was his countercultural way of focusing on the person right in front of him. The focus on the one, where they knew without a doubt that despite their messy lives that they were loved and had purpose. Where he called them into a new way of living as they followed (stumbled?) after him.
Maybe we’ve got it wrong. Maybe we’ve missed the mark.
I can’t help but imagine what it would look like if we put down our relentless pursuit of growth. If we stopped all of the programs and never-ending call for more things to do, and instead simply pointed people to Jesus. The way that he modeled an ever-present awareness of God’s presence in the mundane details of life. A focused passion for people, of stepping down from his position and finding himself in the weeds of others lives. A pervasive attention to what God was doing in the here and now. A calling it out to help others see.
How would we change if we actually took steps to live this way?
How would our families change?
Would our friends notice the difference?
I can’t help but have hope that they would. I can see a picture of it in my mind. I know like most of these pictures, the one that’s painted will likely end up much different. But I want to take steps to get there. I think that’s this small but tenacious trust they call faith.
And maybe, just maybe there are others who would join me.
November 12, 2020