Cracks in the Walls

Any building, over time, will settle into the earth.  As the building settles, you’ll start to notice small cracks.  At first, it isn’t a big deal.  But if the owner of the building doesn’t take action (especially when the foundation is on, say, sand), those cracks could lead to major problems.

Having spent nearly eleven years in “professional ministry” in the local church setting, I think the idea of a permanently paid guy serving the church has cracks.  Some have been exposed many times over (paid guys do most of the ministry, paid guys are “hired guns”, you can fire hired guys, etc.), so I won’t go into those.  I just noticed another possible crack the other day.

I’ve been asking some friends who’ve been in Greenville for a while what the city’s biggest problem and greatest needs are.  I’ve had some interesting responses, and so far they seem to be related.  But I got two responses from guys who are in professional ministry (one part time, one full time).  Their answer was surprising:  “I don’t know.”

These are guys that I respect deeply.  These are guys that love God’s church and who love people.  These are guys that want to see Greenville taken back for the kingdom of God.  In order to do that, one must have the time to search out the darkness in order to shine the light (something which I’m now working on).  It’s entirely possible that these guys simply may not have time due to the structure of their jobs.  I know what it’s like, because I’ve been there.  Looking back, it wasn’t a great place to be at all.

When we spend a great majority of our time preparing for a 90 minute Sunday service and tending to the wants and needs of those already in the church because it’s expected of us, we find that we don’t have the time to be salt and light in the community beyond a “come and check us out” approach.

I’ve now been out of the “professional” ministry for four months.  I have more time to discover the greatest need of the city I’m in now than I ever had as a paid preacher.  The knowledge that “Sunday’s just around the corner” at all times puts the pressure on to perform.  I’m relieved that I no longer have to worry about those things… and I’m wondering if there’s anything I can do to help guys who want to be out in the harvest fields of their city but have to spend too much time feeding sheep and “cleaning up the barnyard”.

What are some things that churches and leaders can do to help free their preachers to be salt and light in the community and thus lead by example?

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About Aaron

Aaron is a follower of Jesus. He's married to his smokin' hot wife Laura and is the father of three adorable girls. He enjoys a robust cigar, a complex root beer, a good movie, writing, football, thought-provoking books, and rousing discussions about subjects you're not supposed to talk about (like theology and politics). Religious people irritate him (because he once was one). He's on a quest to find the perfect dry rub and sauce for ribs.
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7 Responses to Cracks in the Walls

  1. lsaufley says:

    I think supportive, active elders are the most important thing that the traditional church needs. And I think that congregations need to stop expecting that the preacher is the “only one” who can do the visiting and praying over and teaching, etc. Congregations expect way too much out of their ministers.

    I have seen preachers run ragged because they are expected to be at every single birth, death, surgery, etc. I can remember a preacher saying something about “getting in trouble” if they didn’t attend a birth. What the heck? I have always loved my preachers but I don’t care if they come and sit in the waiting room during the birth of my child. That’s just weird.

    However, I don’t think things will ever change. Especially in the south where preachers are put on such a pedestal and people don’t think that anyone else can do the work of an ordained minister.

    It did not surprise me at all that the only responses you have gotten to your question has been from people who are working in a secular job. People that are around the lost of our community on a daily basis. Let’s be honest—MOST preachers (I didn’t say ALL) don’t have the opportunity to be around lost people. They work on their sermons and visit the sick (of their own congregation) and they teach others how to reach the lost. Then they wait on those people to bring the lost to them. Again, I said not ALL ministers do that but let’s be honest….that’s how the majority of churches function.

    • Aaron says:

      Well said, babe. Somehow, church leadership must get back to equipping the rest of the church for ministry. And Sunday morning ain’t cuttin’ it. Maybe it needs to be reworked into more of a participatory structure… yet that will only work to a certain size. Not sure what the answer is…

  2. Koffijah says:

    Yeah, babe, well said! Oh, I can’t call her babe? Sorry.

    Hey Aaron, just wondering… have you ever gotten the “you just couldn’t make it as a real preacher, so that’s why you’re into this house church stuff” from people? I’ve never met you, but I think you would probably do just fine as a traditional preacher if you believed that was the way to go. But I can just guess that those who might want to justify the traditional model and feel threatened by something so “strange” might think or say something like that. You know, the “well, you just don’t have what it takes to draw and keep a crowd of 1,000 so you build your own little small group and try to act like it’s better” attitude.

    When you do get people talking this way or treating you this way, how do you respond?

    • Aaron says:

      Actually, you’re the first person who has ever said it to me. So… you’re a jerk (not really–that was just really fun to say!).

      I mostly get, “Well, that’s really cool but…” responses. I was just involved in a conversation yesterday with a group of traditionally structured church preachers, and some started lamenting the fact that the Sunday service wasn’t doing what it was supposed to, and they weren’t quite sure what it was supposed to do besides have people show up, sing songs, preach, and take up money. I had to leave for a work-related meeting, so all I said was, “I don’t have headaches like that any longer.”

      I haven’t had anyone be really… mean… about it. Mostly, it’s been “You’ve got stones! Wish I did…”

  3. Laura says:

    I have a response to that. Aaron has had people tell him (well, one person tell him) that house churches just don’t work because we don’t have 1000 people attending. And basically that there is nothing worth considering or learning from the house church model because it “just doesn’t have the results” of traditional mega church settings. (Forgetting about the explosion of the underground “house church” movement in China as well as other countries around the world). I hate it when people think their method is the one and only way and can’t be open minded enough to realize that any method is a good method if it produces sold-out followers of Jesus. We try not to dog the traditional churches and appreciate if they give us the same respect.

  4. Koffijah says:

    No, Aaron… I really wasn’t being a jerk to you. Nor do I think that way in the very least about you. In my experience, no one is usually mean enough to put it out there like that so explicitly. But sometimes this is exactly what they imply with their words. I’ve gotten this on a couple occassions from people doing traditional kinds of mission work in “open” countries. I was just wondering if you had a good way to respond that was (1) full of grace–not returning the “jerkiness”, (2) Incredibly convincing for those people who don’t want to take the time to listen to your whole spiel explaining your approach, and (3) somehow showing them that even if you were as smart and as sexy as them, you would still choose this approach.

    • Aaron says:

      I’ve had two people say, in effect, “It’s just not going to work because you don’t invite a friend to go to a stranger’s house to have church.” My response was simply, “Of course not. Especially because church isn’t an event to invite someone to. It’s a lifestyle to be lived.” As to #3, I simply talk about my experience in a traditionally structured church with all the headaches, worries, etc. that go along with it compared to the freedom that comes with simple church. Not convincing at all, but I’m really not looking to convince them of anything, because it isn’t them I’m trying to reach.

      I’m trying to think of a wisecrack thing to say about brewing coffee, but it just isn’t coming to me…

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