Today's 'thought' has to do with ministry - true ministry - difficult ministry - Christian ministry. It comes from David Hansen's book, "The Art of Pastoring" and carries a challange to pastors.
But before you click the 'delete' icon, thinking this thought only applies to pastor types, read on. For if you've ever struggled with choosing the easy way, or the quick fix, instead of the best way, or the hard road to healing, his advice can give helpful direction. Enjoy.
"We pimp shortcuts. Everybody wants them. People will pay good money for them. We love cheap love and hate the costly cross. By giving people shortcuts we are cheating them out of life in Christ, and it destroys us. Entertainment, management and counseling are valid activities in their proper arenas, but for pastoral ministry they are easy outs, quick fixes, short-term satisfaction, shortcuts that bypass the cross... Many people who come to me for counseling want a quick fix; they want me to give them a way around living a moral life, a shortcut to happiness that skips following Jesus in costly discipleship.
In our hypertherapuetic milieu, people want professionals to do something to them to make them feel better. Living through life, meeting the demands of following Jesus, living under the lordship of a holy God doesn't appeal to the general public these days... people would have me do something to them rather than admonish them to live through the thick forests of their lives by following Christ in discipleship....
There are other shortcuts... For instance, people need to worship God, but they want to be entertained instead. Maintaining worship as a vertical dialogue with God in which we eschew entertainment and press our minds and bodies into service is a battle against one of the public's deepest felt needs. Boredom is so extreme in our day that people feel they are dying. Boredom makes people feel as if their central nervous system is winding down and shutting off. People will pay any amount of money to relieve boredom for the same reason that they will pay any amount of money for a pacemaker.
People want singing that excites and envelops, special music that impresses, sermons that warm the heart, testimonies that make them cry and miracles that make their skin tingle. Worship as entertainment, defined as the ritual excitement of the central nervous system to temporarily relieve boredom, is a shortcut to the believer's soul-deep satisfaction of serving God through vertically oriented worship. Entertainment is passive and is an effect wrought upon the participant by the 'worship leaders.' Worship (on the other hand) is active and requires effort expended by a thankful congregation of believers on behalf of a holy and merciful God, initiated and led by the Holy Spirit.
If we entertain people, our church will grow. If we lead in worship, our church may shrink until it is composed of a group of people who want to worship. Then the church has a chance to grow based on the precedent of worship. The church that worships will have many visitors who never come back, yet a few who cannot stay away."
Pursuing worship in spirit and in truth,