welcome. why "weak on sanctification"?

this accusation is often made about lutheran christians. because we focus so strongly on god's justifying grace in christ, and our continual need, as "sinner-saints," to receive god's gifts of grace through word and sacrament, people say we are "weak on sanctification." i prefer to say we are strong on jesus, whose sanctifying work in our lives is the fruit of the gospel all along our lifelong journey. i would much rather focus on what he has done than on anything i might do.

the weekly discussion

each week I set forth a topic to promote discourse about some aspect of Christianity, the church, or the spiritual life. i would love to hear your perspective and thoughts on each week's subject. these discussions are usually posted on mondays, so if you missed this week's post and would like to catch up on the conversation, just scroll down and join us.

November 6, 2009

why you should be very scared...

some folks think i'm too hard on the evangelical church at times, but i was referred to something recently that sent me into a funk of untold depths.

i will not mention the name of the author or where i found what he wrote. suffice it to say that these are the words of a "pastor," who from all appearances is a fairly typical contemporary evangelical church-planting leader. for reasons i don't know, he is no longer on his church staff or involved in vocational ministry. i'm not interested in besmirching his name or criticizing his church or anything like that. but i have to confess that when i read his list, my mouth dropped open in unbelieving amazement.

the title of his article refers to the move from being in church leadership to having to function in the "real world". in his piece he lists some of the lessons he has learned in this transition. i paraphrase some of his reflections...
  • he testifies that, until he left the pastorate, he had absolutely no idea about the financial, job, and family pressures most of the people in the church were facing in their lives.
  • he realized after leaving the ministry that getting up and preaching what people should do is easy, but living it out is not.
  • he realized after no longer being in the pulpit that he will never preach a lot of his sermons because he sees now that it is not possible to actually live any of it out in real life.
  • he apparently had no idea that he was asking too much of people to do all the volunteering he was asking for after they had worked long hours at work. by comparison, he realized how little he himself had been working while on a church staff.
  • he testifies that, when he was a pastor, he truly had no idea how many hurting people there are in the world.
  • as a pastor, he really didn't know that a lot of people actually hate the church.
  • now he realizes that as a pastor, he completely shielded himself from criticism, something he cannot do now that he's in the real world.
  • he confesses how much he really looked down on women and was sexually inappropriate in his thoughts, words, and perspectives.
  • he has now learned the value of the apology. as a pastor, he would never have said, "i'm sorry," because he thought he always had to be right.
  • he had a lot of fake friendships when he was a pastor.
  • now he's thinking that it will take a different kind of church to reach a community. when he finds out what it is, he will get back into trying to start one.
i'm practically speechless. this guy called himself a "pastor"? for heaven's sake, i think i would have known more than this as a new christian fresh out of paganism 35 years ago!

where did this guy get his training? who affirmed his calling and authorized him to stand in front of people and open the bible? did anyone ever check his theology? his ideas about what it means to minister to people?

it's obvious he never visited a parishioner at home—never even considered people who attended his church parishioners in the first place! probably never darkened the door of a hospital room. surely he never prayed at the bedside of the dying. did he ever pray with anyone? about any real life issue? did he ever stop planning cool church events long enough to listen to any real person? it's obvious to me that this guy was doing his own thing from the start and was as clueless as homer simpson about what it means to be a church leader, especially a pastor.

if this is the state of the "pastorate" today, may god have mercy on us all.

today's van gogh
two thistles, 1888


  1. Makes you wonder how much of the faulty perspective came from his seminary, and how much from his congregation. It is possible that they wanted an entertainer, and that he was giving them what they wanted all those years.

    It certainly is disturbing. But I'm encouraged that he got the right notion of ministry at all. How did THAT happen?

  2. It makes one want to view their pastor more closely. And it is very disheartening. Thanks for the thoughts.

  3. I have found this to be true. I was asked to leave a church because I was too pastoral. How ridiculous!