Sunday, April 01, 2007

Professional Ministry (2)

One reason that I resigned from the professional ministry was that I discovered that the modern preaching ministry is quite destructive for the church and the minister. The professional minister spends most of his life preparing for his next Sunday performance. His self-esteem depends on how the last past performance went.

This focus on a Sunday performance also tends to encourage passivity among Christians. Their main contribution to the “main event” is to tell the pastor that they enjoyed it. By encouraging passivity, this style of ministry has made the church impotent.

The preaching ministry had a role when large portions of the population were illiterate. They needed someone who could read to explain what the scripture taught. Those days are long gone. Christians now have access to an immense supply of good teaching through television, tapes and the internet. There is no need for average teaching from a local professional, when they can listen to teaching by the best in the world.

Preaching is a very blunt instrument, because the listeners have different needs, experience and circumstances. The best sermon will still bore some, mislead a few and actually hurt one or two.

I actually found that preaching to Christians is a fairly ineffective method for bringing change. It is like water dripping on a stone. It will eventually wear a hole, but it takes a very long, long time. If you are serious about making stone sculptures, you need a more efficient method of shaping stones.

Judging by what people said, I was a very good preacher. People said that they found my content relevant and preaching style entertaining, which made me feel good. However, judging by the changes in their life, my preaching was mostly ineffective. A church activity that has its greatest impact on the ego of the pastor has to be fairly dangerous for the minister and the church.

The New Testament model for changing lives is to take people with you when you are doing the stuff. When they have watched for a while, you let them do it with you. They can soon do the stuff on their own. Not long after, they can take others with them to learn how to do the stuff. This is real multiplication.

1 comment:

Steve Scott said...

Not having been on your side of the pulpit, I can't know how you've experienced this. But I can see what you're saying. I've heard the preachers I've sat under make comments as to having preached long and hard about something and what's wrong with you people anyway, don't you listen? Your point in part 1 about all the people being involved is a good one. In my experience, the one-way preaching method leaves no room for the pastor to receive exhortation, encouragement, etc. He must resort to pastors' conferences and leadership retreats to get his food. He's fully aware of how lonely the life of ministry is, because he's really not shepherding those "among him." They are below him, whether he tried to make this happen or not. We really have discarded the discipleship method shown to us in Scripture. My church has one, but it is in an academic setting, classroom style.