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?