I figured I would start out my blog post similar to Calvinist Coulson’s (@XpCoulson). IN fact, you can consider this Part 2 to his piece, When the Guest Pastor Stinks!
I have not been a Lutheran my whole life. Similar to a pot-luck at school, my background has many dishes that do not go together. Experience with Baptist, prosperity gospel, non-denominational denomination (I love saying that—it’s so ironic!), Catholic, Islam, and Methodism. It’s been like going to a buffet and having five different types of meat on a plate at once: turkey, spam, tofu (okay, a meatless meat), hot-dog, and steak all jumbled up. Needless to say, all this has enabled me to experience all sorts of styles of preaching.
Since becoming Lutheran, I have gotten used to only organ music, because the hymns actually have more Gospel than many sermons. What I truly appreciate in worship is the law and Gospel packed sermons—to the point that I am spoiled. But I can recall a time prior to this when things were very different. Let me take you back…
In my Methodist days, I had a very enthusiastic pastor. He was good or in my opinion, tolerable. My family really liked the denomination and this pastor tried to preach good sermons. However, I never felt “moved” (no conviction or to use Pentecostal slang, the “Spirit wasn’t moving”) by his sermons. One week, he flew in a guest pastor from LA (that’s Los Angles, California, for the non-West Coast people!). Now this pastor was sweating in the pulpit, preaching God’s word as if he knew the rapture was tomorrow, and he did not want us to be left behind. I am not a very, let’s say, Charismatic type of guy, but the pastor got me to stand up a few times (relax Lutherans, it’s okay to get excited!). I felt a conviction from God’s law, and the Gospel was a sweet lather of ointment that I needed. I almost shed a tear in the service, but Lex don’t cry!
So the next week when I returned, the pastor whose sermons I was okay with, was no longer tolerable anymore. It almost felt like how you feel after a Thanksgiving meal, when you grab a burger from McDonalds and it’s just not up to par anymore. This three apples high man’s sermon now annoyed me. He annoyed me. And it was not all his fault. Now I am a sinner so we won’t delve into how I handled this, but I will talk about the ideal way to handle it. LEAVE THAT CHURCH!
Okay, I’m just kidding.
First, we need to realize that church is not all about you. It is about God and the community, the church. God has placed you around these fellow saints for various reasons. Some of us are role models to the youth, while others may be placed there to support or receive support from another person. God works in mysterious ways and we should not treat church as if we are shopping for the latest and greatest trend.
Secondly, we have to ask ourselves, “Is my pastor delivering God’s word faithfully and accurately?” If this is the case, we have to remember we were not baptized in the pastor’s name and that pastor did not die for us.
What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” 13Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you?
-1 Corinthians 1:12-13
We are in church to hear God’s word and be pointed to our Lord and Savior. If this happening at your church week in and week out, we must ask ourselves, “Why am not satisfied?”. Nine times out of ten, the reason will be us focusing on worldly things.
Thirdly, there is a reason God called this man to be your shepherd of the flock. You might not understand why, but you are not the one making the call. Not to be rude, but the church is not our personal kitchen. Sometimes you might get a plate of only vegetables because it is healthy, not because it is flashy and bursting with flavor. Maybe God wants to use you to support the pastor, help the pastor, etc.
On a final note, we have to stop thinking that church is all about us. We come to God’s house, to hear his Word, not to come and become a project coordinator. Christ is not divided and the good Shepard knows what he is doing. You might not see it or realize it, but in our vocation God is using us more than we can imagine. Praise God for simple things, the hard things, the good, and the bad. Remember one of Christ commands was to to “Love our neighbor.” The people in your church Sanctuary are your neighbors. Christ died you, me, and them. Trust that God has it under control, focus on God’s free forgiveness of your sins and continue to stare at Golgotha!
Grace, Peace, and Mercy to you!
ThM recommends reading The Hungry Church-Hoppers