Someone asked me the other day,”What concerns you must about the Church today?” I had to think about my answer. I could have answered her question in so many ways. But I finally responded. “What concerns me most about the Church is why countless thousands of young pastors, with their whole life in front of them, drift through life, changing dirty spiritual diapers, coping with dysfunctional, conflicted leaders, and not winning one soul to Christ in their entire ministry.”
I simply fail to comprehend how anyone could waste their life in the vast majority of today’s churches. It’s as if they are trying to fool themselves into thinking that they are performing pastoral ministry. Give me a break. About all 80% of the pastors today accomplish is consoling dying parishioners, responding to the complaints of mean spirited people, trying to get institutionally insane leaders to get off the pot, or worse yet, going to denominational meetings as if doing so might make a difference in the world.
No this is what concerns me most – young pastors wasting the prime years of their life being caretakers of the museum, doing the bidding of someone else. That’s one of the reasons I wrote “Put on Your Own Oxygen Mask first.” I wanted to challenge church leaders to lead based on their call not what the church wants and if the call is to be a chaplain, get out of leadership.
One of the realities of getting old (I guess I should say “mature”) is that you can’t go back and relive your life. Try as we might, we only get one pass at this thing called life. When we are asked to give an account of what we did with our life, it’s too late to try to change anything. Saying we’re sorry won’t cut it. Our one chance is over. Period.
Now and then I look back over my life, most of which is behind me. I don’t like everything I see. So many wasted motions. If I had taken the bull by horns earlier and more often my impact on earth could have been much more productive. I haven’t done badly; I just could have done so much more and I don’t want that to happen to you. I can’t imagine how bad it must feel to turn 55 and realize that much of your life has been wasted and can’t wait to retire. Many pastors in their 50’s are in this group of disillusioned folks.
One of the problems in the church today is an incredible lack of urgency. Church leaders just don’t get it- the world is dying without Christ. And most church leaders act as if they don’t give a damn. The newcasters make fun of the evangelicals and fundamentalists, but at least they understand the basic premise of Christianity – that without a faith in Christ nothing else matters. Somehow over the decades this urgency and passion has been lost among a vast majority of pastors. Even those who say they believe that Christ is the hope of the world are more likely to give lip service to the belief than putting feet to it.
Do I sound mad? You bet. I’m mad as Hell. You and I are entrusted with the most precious truth the world has ever known. If we don’t believe that, we should get out of the kitchen and get out of the Church. Christ didn’t die so you and I could play nursemaid to a bunch of losers.
When was the last time you talked with another person about Christ? Committees that talk about evangelism and sermons that invite people to Christ don’t count. I’m talking about a face-to-face, one-on-one conversation with a non-Christian.
Remember the parable of the five wise and five foolish virgins waiting for the Bridegroom to arrive? The foolish virgins felt no urgency of the moment and let didn’t replace the oil in their lamps. And “while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut” (Matthew 25:10). I’m afraid too many Christians will find the door shut one day because of their lack of urgency and compassion for those who do not know Christ. That saddens me; it also makes me mad as Hell because we of all people should know better.
Remember the lead actor in Network? He finally had it with the system and he hung his head out of a New York window and shouted, “I’m mad as Hell and I’m not going to take it any longer.” That is what church leaders need to do. We need to decide not to put up anymore with churches content to float along, dying on the vine, doing nothing to reverse the trend. Its time we kicked some butt. Leaders, Kick out the bullies and the mean spirited people who intimidate the Hell out of good people. It’s time pastors get out of the office and onto the streets and into the homes of the unchurched and begin to lead people to Christ. It’s time lay people quit playing church like kitties in a sandbox, coving up the you-know-what.
So, here’s the point of this article.
- I’m calling for a wholesale strike on the part of every pastor who is saddled with a church that is dying and doesn’t give a damn. That’s right. Refuse to show up. Refuse to preach. Refuse to go to the hospital. And when you are fired, go out and start your own church.
- I’m calling for a wholesale strike on the part of every lay person who has been willing to put up with intimidation, decline, and whining-self-serving-entitled church members. Refuse to put up with them any longer. Show them the door. Remove them from office.
Of course, do all of this in love and you’ll no longer be mad as Hell.