I already know how this entry is going to sound and thus the disclaimer and the hope that it will not be misinterpreted.
This morning, as I read the local newspaper and Tom Ehrich’s article, Churches are More than Buildings1, I realized the unique responsibility of my calling, to speak truth. I know how vulnerable one becomes to criticism, when words like unique or prophet are used in today’s world; let alone making the assumption of “truth.” However, I also know what the Lord spoke to me in March of 2009, “My Church is in foreclosure.” Little did I know about how far this financial climate would take churches across our land?
The same was true in 1978, when He said to me, “Wherever I send you, seek that city and I will give you a city.” That was two decades before “City-reaching” came into vogue for copngregations in the late 90’s. Even then, when I resigned my second “real job” in 1996, to move downtown in order to pray over one of those cities, I never dreamed he would then move me to Clemmons where I would become Mayor! I am now headed toward election time, so I must be careful here (levity), though I have led with a competency that has also gained me leadership in numerous other non-profits. If I am some religious quack, then a lot of intelligent people have misjudged me (now I am asking myself questions)?
Yet, being a truth-teller comes with its own peril. Pushing the edges as a change agent allows no room for being judgmental of those same whom God might choose to change through you. Being judgmental always brings its own judgment and pain. Being a truth-teller allows no room for “having to be right” or saying “I told you so.” When I read articles about churches closing their doors, it gives me no joy but in my best moments, simply moves me toward seeking answers for those same people of God; many good people, somehow lured into the organizational pitfalls that come as one attempts to serve God and others in an deeply institutionalized religious setting. Mercy is in fact the calling of a pastor, and a prophet must first have that same heart (please, remember the disclaimer) if he is to discern truth.
Walking with Jesus, being Christ to others is no easy road. The internal pressure and self- correction is huge, when bounded by a love for God and His people. It affords little place for personal pleasure and demands humility, while acting through a personality type that often comes across as a “know it all”, stubborn and cynical being. Try living with that, while running ahead of the curve of leaders who are often more about consoling flocks, for the sake of maintaining the treasure once stock piled within our campuses!
God is love and even in this season of radical change, which may cost the investments of even our most well-meaning congregations, He is only better preparing His Church for a time in which He will release His redemption across the cities of this nation; offering real solutions against the perils of a globe ill-stewarded economically, environmentally, politically and socially are called to task.
1Tom Ehrich, http://www.morningwalkmedia.com