Recently, I woke up sensing a number of pastors were discouraged and feeling overwhelmed with not just what is going on in their churches, but also what is happening in our country and world. These are tumultuous times!Being in ministry for 36 years,I completely understand how pastors feel! I vividly remember those monday mornings after a Sunday when they hear nothing but bad news-somebody having marriage problems or needing a miraculous healing or hearing that people you love and care about are leaving the church,saying “The Lord told me to leave”. Financial challenges pile on and then there all the dreaded meetings coming that week you just don’t want to go to! Inside, you might feel you want to go back to bed and stay in your room for a few….months! Then you have staff and board meetings that are really all about what a BAD job you are doing.
It is SO much more difficult pastoring today than when I started 36 years ago. Today the persecution churches and pastors face with the LGBT rights emphasis would have been unimaginable then. People expect things of pastors that are unrealistic and those who show up after a debacle in their former church,somehow bring all their garbage with them. And today,everyone can compare what you are doing with everyone else on earth.Through Youtube and social media the world is smaller and more connected. And unfortunately the more we “compare ourselves to ourselves, we end up without understanding”. (2 Cor 10:12) The truth is,the more we compare then adopt what others do,the less distinct and unique we become. Nothing is wrong in picking up good habits or traits,but In some ways, all the connectivity seems to cause some people to adopt what others are doing more than being real. And it appears to be bringing a frighteningly rigid uniformity almost like cloning.Actually in many ways,there is much LESS diversity and creativity. Trying to “be different”, everyone is becoming more the same. And when you pile on the insecurity in pastors,it further causes pastors to resist being “themselves” thinking they don’t measure up.
WAL-MARTING of the church
I have been speaking and visiting a number of churches and church websites recently and it is troubling and even sad to me how many churches are becoming more and more alike. Every preacher wants to be Andy Stanley or Joel Osteen or Robert Morris. Each church’s worship is attempting to be like United or Bethel. Many of the programs are all the same, with themes being imported from denominational headquarters or North Point or Bethel.A few days ago I was looking at three different church websites in three entirely different areas of the country and noticed that they all had the exact same theme for the summer! While I understand the majority of churches are smaller and don’t want to “reinvent the wheel” so they use what is working somewhere else, the “Wal-Marting” of the American church is disheartening to watch. As Wal-Mart helped to wipe out the family store that had diverse items, unique character and met a specific need,all the churches in US have become all the same and the quality of the product is not long lasting and of dubious quality.The new motto for church is becoming, “We’re special & different-just like everybody else!”
All of this kind of confusion and difficulty makes for rough mondays for a lot of pastors. BUT….
Ephesians 3:20&21-Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.(NASB)
Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.(NIV)
This scripture always blows my mind because it says whatever we think needs to be done,whatever problem needs to be solved,whatever need must be supplied…is within God’s unfathomable ability to not only do… but do to it in such away that we can’t imagine it in our wildest dreams!! This is better than.”Yes, I know God can,but…” It is that God has placed in each of us the key,the “secret sauce”,the awesome ability in HIM to get the answer,breakthrough or whatever we can even THINK OF,the answer will be beyond that!
WHATEVER- we think,imagine,dream or conceive in our imaginations….
THING-needs to start,stop,begin or end,be supplied or denied…
HE’S ABLE-HE is ABLE to do THAT in such a way that HE somehow does it through US…
HE PLACED POWER IN US-In accordance with the power He placed inside each of us, allowing us to work with HIM….
So He can display HIS glory to the church in Jesus!
HIS glory to the church in Jesus,throughout all generations!
There is absolutely nothing so bad,so big or so complicated God is not able to bring the answer! Remember this when you are discouraged and get ahold of the surpassing incredibleness of God and His ability to help you through His power IN YOU!