A Sober Warning


If you've looked at this page in the last couple of days, you know I'm just back from holidays, as witnessed to by a rambling blog that a former chair of my council said was merely bait to get people to see what I did on my holidays. Well, whatever! He did read it, though--and it DID have a more serious point than self-promotion.

Returning from holidays means, of course, that we take necessary steps back into the day-to-day work of pastoring. (The calling always remains--whether one is on holidays or not!) One of the best helps I was blessed with for that walk in the last few days was a sobering email from a Mennonite pastor and friend now working with Mennonite Central Committee in Ethiopia. He pasted an op-ed from the August 7 New York Times, written by a pastor from the United Church of Christ. Called "Congregations Gone Wild," G. Jeffrey MacDonald sketches a serious warning to pastors and congregations about our consumerist culture's potential to blow out the foundation and integrity of the pastoral calling. Take a look at this link.

Chew on this. Evaluate it. Does any of MacDonald's points wound your part of of the body of Christ?  Pass it on to family, friends, congregation members, office bearers--all the while clothing ourselves with the armour of God (Ephesians 6) to withstand such contemporary fiery darts of the evil one.

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Often I will say at the beginning of a church service that we come to be renewed, refreshed, reminded of and in what God has done for us through his Son Jesus Christ. But in several conversations with other pastors I can't help but observe that many people are simply looking for 'respite'. The world is a hard place to live in; there are many cares upon their shoulders. So despite the fact that "Pastors believe they’re called to shape lives for the better, and that involves helping people learn to do what’s right in life, even when what’s right is also difficult.", sometimes all the people want is relief - some comfort - someone to kiss their owie. Only after we have met this need may we attempt "to save [their] souls by elevating people’s values and desires." Only then can clergy "ask for personal challenges, in areas like daily devotions and outreach ministries." I think this observation adds a different spin than what Jeffrey MacDonald says is happening in the pews. (above quotations are from Jeffrey MacDonald's article 'Congregations Gone Wild'.)

Hi Dale, I'm not sure what your spin is saying. Could you explain it in another way?


If I read MacDonald's article rightly, then he was making a call for the laity to understand what a preacher is called to do; and a call upon preachers to not allow the lazy ethics of the laity to deter him/her from their calling. My spin was to view it from the pews... I feel like we need to be able to trust our pastors before we allow them to preach to us. So basically the call is to pastor first, then preach... "to shape lives for the better, and that involves helping people learn to do what’s right in life, even when what’s right is also difficult.".

Thanks for the response, it makes sense. I think we should also look at qualifications for counsel leadership. Maybe a test at the canidate level together with training.