Monday, April 25, 2005

More Eph. 2 Problems

"[Jesus] gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, some as pastor-teachers, for the equipping of the saints" (italics added . . . by most 20th/21st century Christians who speak or write).

More issues I have with making this the latest job description for "pastors" (ask most any church historian for a run-down of the verses used by 'professional Christians' over the last 1000+ years as their 'job description' verse - it's fascinating!). But first, some quick backdrop...

Most every citizen of the United State believes that what they think is important is concurrently important for EVERYONE. Ever come across a salesperson who is "off duty?" They sell anyway. Ever come across someone with a disabled child? The message of their child's illness needs to spread, awareness needs to be raised. Ever talked to a disgruntled church-member about the local, professional sports team? The teams failings, miraculously!, mirror the failings of their local church.

So it is with pastors. We(?) speak as if "the ministry" (one of the most vague terms/concepts in Western Christianity) is the goal, point, apex of human existence. You're not fully alive unless you are doing "Ministry." The God-shaped void is not fully filled until one is (1) a Christian and (2) equipped unto service. Why? Because the pastor's job is to equip! That's what the verse says! God said it, I believe it, that settles it. [Maybe that last sentence should end manditoraly with a comma]

Therefore, the human-who-is-pastor does what we all do (see paragraph 3 above). We assume that what is important to me/us is vital for every human. So we make people's vocations less than their "spiritual calling." I am tempted to end this post now, but I'll continue a bit further.

The rise of business literature that proposes a humane approach to not only activity directed towards employees but even their community will make this all VERY disruptive. What do we do when the boss is asking the employees to do, be, own a Christ-like character? Who is to be listened to over the other (should the case arise): my pastor or my boss? What if my boss is proposing something even MORE in line with the words of God than my pastor? Does that then make my vocation more "spiritual" than my service to my local congregation?

Perhaps, as I hope it was in my "sermons," this is all just an issue of meeting people where they are. Perhaps I spoke in terms of "real life = serving Jesus alongside other people in the congregation" because so many people had no meaning to their lives. I remember talking to some who LOVED being together with the Body because it meant they could be a part of something significant (vs. their data entry, no-conversation-allowed job). Or maybe it's a more sinister issue.

And I owe this all to the Chairman of the Board of Elders of Highlands Church, who is also my boss, who is also one of the most respectable and to-be-mimicked followers of Jesus I know, Brad Holaway. He runs his business as if it were owned by God Himself and attempts to "keep" the culture consistent with the values of the Owner.

So thank you, Brad Holaway, for destroying yet another paradigm while being in the middle of the paradigm. A true deconstructionist (grin)!!

4 comments:

Ty said...

It is late so maybe I am not fully getting your message but anyway... my 'problem' with Eph. 2 is the word 'pastor'. This is the only time we find this word in the NT - actually we find the greek word but it is translated as 'shepherd' most of the time. Are there those in the church (universal) that are the people who inspire, motivate, and challenge their fellow believers to use their gifts and abilities to minister to others. ie, 'fully equiped'. These then are the pastors, shepherds, overseers (there must be some tie to the qualifications in Tim. and Titus) These people are found in the employ of the church (local) or business world but they can't help but equip others....

BAB said...

I think that you are right in that many pastors equip saints to do the work of the ministry in the church created in their own image. I do think that the pastor should shepherd and direct people into the ministry. I just wish they would, as you said, not pigeon hole people with what that is.

David M said...

Ty -
My contention is that "equip" and "pastor" (which I see as the same as elder, overseer, etc.) have been tied together unnecessarily. Like saying all four-wheel-drive vehicles are SUVs. Not always "wrong" but certainly restrictive. And once Christians in the U.S. find a way to restrict a definition - it's set in stone!

Ty said...

David -

Everyone can equip, everyone should equip? Everyone has a special gift of equiping?

i.e. 'some as evangelists' - everyone should help others meet Christ, but some have a special gift from God for it. In the same way some may have a special gift from God for equiping, but all should equip other believers....