“Man’s nature, so to speak, is a perpetual factory of idols.”-John Calvin
My propensity to prop men up on unwarranted pedestals knows no bounds. You could call this personal bent “idolatory” if you aren’t in to word mincing. So far from being shiny portable statues, my golden calves look more like the mega conference pastor/speaker with book deals and podcast fame. I functionally bow down to them with my time with every perused blog and heard sermon. At conferences, sometimes these anointed men sign bibles and babies on their way to a five figure honorarium (do I sound jealous yet?).
I’m thankful for these men of the Word who throw down the gospel hammer like Thor on their speaking circuits. I aspire to be as bold and clear with my gospel presentation as they are.
There’s nothing wrong with being a keynote public speaker, and there’s nothing wrong with making some green for your services. We should feed the oxen well for its gospel labor (1 Timothy 5:18). What is awry is our cultural inclination to ascribe the cult of celebrity to a normal dude who burps after meals and puts his britches on like the rest of us. Like Jesus sprinkles a little more Holy Ghost dust on his words than anyone else’s.
We don’t have a yearly pilgrimage to Mecca or Jerusalem but we’ll frequently follow the same conference headliners around like fundamentalist fan boys.
And this pernicious worldview has seeped into the church where the leading servant (pastor) has become the leading CEO, Educator, and “professional” minister.
The lay ministry hemorrhages when an assumption is made that real ministry is for the pros and not the Joes. This may not be an explicit message but it is implicit in the way any church handles the pulpit, worship, or prayer ministry. Who dominates these positions on Sun AM, Sun PM, and Wednesday nights (or whenever)?
Are the average saints being equipped to serve or are consumers being fed to fatten?
One unintended consequence hardly ever considered when vocational ministry becomes cultural Christianity’s main path to real ministry:
Young men quietly resolve they are either “called” to seminary/pastorate or they are left with a life less significant. A vocation less meaningful. A calling less radical.
As a result we’re left with fledgling pastors in the pulpit who could have been excellent businessmen, artists, public servants and teachers in the world. Because they’ve accepted the false dichotomy of ministers/members a lost world is a little less salty. Yet it doesn’t get more radical than shedding gospel light in offices, neighborhoods, stores, and the particular corner of community they’re in Mon-Sat.
At least in the Bible belt, we’re no longer just seeing a church on every corner, we’re seeing a church plant on every corner. The traditional First, Second or Third Baptist Church has given way to more catchy titles. Buildings bloom but the deficiency remains.
I’m only submitting this: Maybe we don’t need more men ordained into vocational ministry but more men enthralled by a vision of anointed lay ministry.
People need to hear and be empowered by the gospel of grace, and then live it towards everyone they meet. They need to know that this everyday ministry of grace is every bit as significant as the church elder’s ministry.
Beloved, your ordinary faithfulness to Christ is extraordinary. Your name may never be on a marquee but it will assuredly be written where it matters most (Luke 10:20)
So take heart my lay brethren and sistren.