Church Confusion

There are plenty of things that make the job of a pastor difficult*. These are well documented. But one of the difficulties is confusion. * I love my job.

Pastors are called to build their church. Not the dozen churches in his town. Not the hundred churches in the surrounding towns. Not the thousands of churches within driving distance from his church. Just his church.

But pastors are also called to build the Church. The universal Church made up of all believers, all places, all time. So, he is called to build up the dozen churches in his town and the hundred churches in the surrounding towns... and the thousands of churches within driving distance. Not just his church.

Just his church. And not just his church.

Confusing, eh?

But that’s not all. You see, the way that he builds the universal Church is by faithfully building his own church. And at the same time, the way that he faithfully builds his own church is by remembering that he is building the universal Church. Even as I write it, I’m getting confused.

All that is to say, a balance must be struck when you’re serving in the church, whether you’re a pastor or volunteer.

The tendency for pastors is to get caught up in building their local church. They place too much of their value in the size or success of their churches. The get depressed when people leave their church. Or they get angry and bad mouth them. The temptation  is to believe that they are competing with the other churches in the area. We need to be reminded that we are all serving the same God and building the universal Church.

So, how can you ask someone who is in charge of the success of a local church to not be overly focused on its success but at the same time be focused enough to not neglect it? Where is that perfect balance between serving both the church and the Church?

Ultimately, we have to do what we can do and trust in God to do what he’s gonna do. I once asked Tim Keller about power in preaching. He said, “you have to ask God for the power.” And then he said, “And then you have to be content with the apportioned amount.” So true! There are some things that I can do as a pastor and some things that I can’t. All I can do is what I can and I have to trust that God is gonna do what he’s gonna do.

The way that I see it is that all I can do is bring my 5 loaves and 2 fish. God is the one who feeds the 5000. Some of you might have 10 loaves. Some 2 loaves. Some of you will feed 10,000. Some maybe 500. We do what we can do. Let God do what he’s gonna do.

Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. ~ Mark 6:41

And all of that takes faith. Which, I guess, is why we’re doing what we’re doing in the first place.