There are some people in church life who have a lot of good things to say. They are worth listening to and getting to know. There are others who have… well… just a lot to say. And much time is lost listening to their drivell. It is one thing to have an honest question which is puzzling you, or simply to have misunderstood something. It is quite another to have got things wrong and yet to assert something strongly with a come-on-then! attitude. This will sound/read as uncharitable, but it is true. Such people would be better off, and I dare say more useful, learning what their limitations and channeling their energies more fruitfully. They would be much better saying less and thinking or serving more.
This applies to blogging as much as to face to face conversation.
With such uncharitable views it is only natural that I should apply the same line of thinking to myself. I have not blogged much over the last few days. It is not for lack of time. Just that my contibution to anything useful in this sphere must necessarily be limited. There are much more important and useful things to be doing.
I have been taking the time to think over some aspects of church life. At the end of June I will finish my stint at Derwent Free Church. What can be achieved in the five months that remain? It occurs to me that the answer seems to be “not much”? In my time at DFC, which has been part-time, my priorities have been,
- Preaching and teaching. This must be maintained at all costs. As Driscoll says, “preaching is where it’s at”
- Pastoral care. Not only the elderly and the sick, though they are important, but also the others. Helping bring the scriptures to bear on life is the real challenge rather than simply passing the time of day.
- Evangelism. A church must be outward looking, seeking to carry out the great commission.
All in all I have been able to maintain this list. However, the last item – evangelism – has suffered the ravages. I am the only one in that church with any meaningful time to spend in the locality of the place of worship. On paper at least.
In practice there has been precious little time and this has frustrated me. I do not think I am the greatest evangelist and I have always feared the process of evangelism. But in my time at DFC I have had a growing desire to reach out with the gospel. I am not one for fire and confrontation in evangelism. I do not believe methods such as street preaching is appropriate today. But I do believe people know the “real thing” when they see it – real love, lives that really have been marked by the gospel. I am frustrated that in a small church like DFC we seem unable to get out into the community and let people know.
I have also come to believe that as much as possible a pastor must model the behaviour he would like to characterise the church. If the church truly is a new community of God’s people characterised by love and upbuilding fellowship then the pastor needs to be a catalyst for this community. If he wants the church to be a welcoming place to newcomers then he needs to show how people are to be welcomed. Much of this comes down to dealing well with people, spending time with them, praying, reading, laughing.
We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. 1 Th 2:8 (NIV)
So that is what I have been thinking about over the last few days and attempting to do something about it. I expect this will dominate my thinking over the next few months. Frankly, blogging is well down the list. Besides, instead of reading what I write here, come on guys! shouldn’t you be reading Calvin or something instead?