Thursday, 14 June 2012

Ministerial Time-servers

Believe it or believe it not, they do exist in our churches.  Ministers whose only aim is to draw their salary, keep their noses clean, and retire on a decent pension.

Let me tell of a case I was made aware of recently in which the minister decided that he would play it very calm and cool, not rock too many boats, and get his ministry in with as little ease as possible.  He was in a nice quiet rural parish, quite small, and nothing much to do.  He had all the time in the world to do what he wanted, and frequently made excuses for not staying long with church members whom he 'visited' in hospital.

His preaching ministry left a lot to be desired.  And his over-riding concern was to see his time through until retirement with minimal hassle. The people he watched most closely were his elders, then his colleagues.  So long as he was saying and doing what they were happy with, he was on a pig's back, as we say.

Now this scenario is not uncommon.  The work to which such men were 'called' just is not being done.  But the church loves it, and so also does Satan.  The last thing in the world that the church wants today is any kind of trouble, or controversy.  Keep the church pagans happy at all costs, because that keeps the money rolling in to our ecclesiastical coffers.

What is also very sad is that many of these men know the Gospel, but refuse to preach it with the power and passion that is needed to awaken a sleeping church.  They will go "thus far and no further."  They do not want to be known as passionate evangelical preachers - that's only for mission halls.

To be fair to them, they know that the Gospel of Christ has divine power to affect change; but that's the last thing they want because they do not know how to handle or work constructively with change.  I mean, what would people say if a church elder was converted and became a Christian?  Or the minister?  Or some other church member?  What would that say about the spiritual discernment (or lack of it) of the elders who accepted these 'professors' as real Christians?

And what would happen if these newly converted people were to take their new faith seriously?  Think of the extra work that will give a minister!  And him near the end of his working life.  You just cannot have that!

Then if these true Christians were to become passionate about evangelism in a church where the leadership, including the minister, were not?  How would that make them feel?  And look?  If God was to bless their work and people were to leave other churches, even within the same denomination, and come here, and many were converted to Christ, well, that would be embarrassing.

Then there is another danger.  If some of these new Christians, who are the most active members of the church, were to offer themselves for full-time Christian service and ministry, where would that leave us?  The gaps would be hard enough to fill, but we could manage that by closing down come of the work they did; what would become of the income - and my salary?

No, taking things too seriously is not recommended.  It only brings more work - and we can't have that.  After all, I have to attend so many committee meetings at Church HQ (committee meetings are where people in a special interest group meet for discussion and a bit of craic and where precious little of substance is ever done) and I would not have the time for all this other church work, especially if it is too spiritual.  I need to be seen to be a good churchman, because I am now of an age where I could become Moderator, and I don't want to compromise that possibility.

You get the picture.  Time-servers are everywhere, and in every church.  They love the position, the greetings of men on the streets, and the applause.  Keeping in with the world is of utmost importance to them, because that same world is deeply embedded within their church.  But evangelism?  Oh, I forgot to say, what we do in the community is called 'pre-evangelism.'  The health club, the golf club, the photographic society, the young farmers club, local history club - that's all 'pre-evangelism.'

But is that what the minister is called to?

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