Last weekend I was in Philadelphia and had the opportunity to explore some or our nations historic sights for the first time. I threw a penny on Benjamin Franklin’s grave, fought the temptation to kiss the Liberty Bell and walked through the doors of Independence Hall. One of the things that really struck me was the simplicity of it all. When you compare Independence Hall and the surrounding architecture to our nations capital and the edifices on the mall in DC it all seems so plain, efficient and practical. Here is the place where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States were debated and eventually signed and yet it pales in comparison to the magnitude and complexity of Washington DC.
I returned from this trip on Monday and on Tuesday went to our circuit pastor’s conference. Now I love getting together with my brothers in the ministry. It is a time of worship and good conversation and faithful study. The problem is that the bureaucrats both within our church body and without have caught on to the fact that there is a group of pastors gathering together and they always want to worm their way into the conversation. It isn’t enough that our church’s mailboxes are full of their constant supply of bulletin inserts and flyers or that my e-mail inbox has a hard time filtering most of the crap out. Anymore it seems that what the bureaucrats have to offer is whatever the leading church consultants have come up with; the latest and greatest “whatever” to grow and promote the church.
And here is the haunting issue that I think you need to know about. When the bureaucrats and church consultants come calling these wizards-of-smart take what is a simple task and make it very complex. To be a pastor is to be a preacher and to be a preacher is simple. Not that it is easy, in fact it is a wearisome and often terrifying vocation but the task is not very complex. To be a pastor is to be a hit-man and midwife of God, to kill and make alive by the preaching of the Word. Yet what your pastor is inundated with time and time again is an encouragement to be something more than a preacher; to be CEO or a coach or program manager or even a fund raiser.
While all these things may prove to be beneficial to the growth and health of the organization what they will not do is allow more time for the crafting of sermons and honing of preaching skills. In other words, in their attempts to help they will pull the preacher away from his main and simple task. And here is why we should do our best to passionately resist this crap; when a pastor is led into the complex and consultant-driven intricacies of modern ministry what will begin to creep in is a distrust that the proclamation of the Gospel is enough!
We will be more inspired by the structures of DC forgetting the plain halls of the Pennsylvania Sate House, proud that we have found our way through the complexity of it all and finally become “successful.” But what do we lose?