About that day I stood on a stage OR what is church commitment?

Multicultural groupI stood on a stage in June 2013. Well, it was more like a platform where they pulpit resides. I stood with several other people in front of the congregation. We were reciting vows. No, not saying “I do” in matrimony but definitely making a commitment to the local church.  We professed faith in Jesus Christ. We agreed to be involved in the life of the church. And, wait for it…we agreed to be submitted to it’s leadership and including, should the need arise, agreeing to church discipline.

“Wait, whoa, what? You actually agreed to THAT? That’s what cults do!” I might be the reaction of the reader. Of course, this came after a 12 week class on basic Christian doctrine, the definition and role of the church and Presbyterian specifics. We each met the pastor and one of the elders to give our testimony and share with them where we are spiritually. This does give one the opportunity to see if this is something they want to be committed to. (On a side note, I have made similar commitments before. But prior to joining the PCA, I came from a place with very loose commitments and little accountability and it showed.)

But given the reaction to the recent social media explosion over The Village Church, I can bet that this scenario immediately inspires thoughts of control, abuse, and squashing love for members. Now granted, there was some fumbling on their part especially considering the highly sensitive and painful nature of circumstances. They did apologize for the careless and insensitive way in which is was handled (not that it will ever be enough for public outrage calling for their pound of flesh). Nonetheless, I’m not writing about that specific incident because there’s been enough ink spilled already. Rather, I want to address the mass response that I saw that by and large rejected any type of commitments to pastoral intervention in the lives of its members. It made me question what exactly do we consider being part of the life of the local church.

I’m no fan of J.D. Hall of Pulpit and Pen nor the site, but I think he delivered what I believe to be a fitting and poignant commentary regarding the situation and specifically the reaction against making any kind of covenant with the local church as unwarranted, unbiblical and otherwise unnecessary. In this post here, he states, Continue reading

Dear Obscure Pastor

Yes, I intentionally said obscure. Because that means that you aren’t well known, except by those you serve in shepherding and those within your sphere of influence. You have no book deals, don’t really utilize social media unless its to make your congregation aware of some important issues. If that spills over to others, then that is an added bonus. In fact, you probably aren’t a heavy social media user because of your attention to the task you’ve been called to do. This consumes most of your time.

Unfortunately, as Christians applaud the visible “pastors” in the limelight, promote their books and blogs, there is little sentiment left for your obscurity. In fact, some may even disdain it as being non-effective. After all, if you were really doing kingdom work, you’d have a wide impact and be in the spotlight to “reach people”, which may cause you to overlook the people right in front of you.

But your goal is to be faithful to the position for which God has called you. Your heart is burdened for discipleship. You want people to know the Lord and grow in grace and the true knowledge of God. You are engaged in activity that most don’t see: time in prayer, long hours of sermon preparation, agonizing over the struggles, rebellious sparks, and concerns of your congregation.  You visit the sick and downtrodden, befriend your non-believing neighbors and network with other obscure pastors for encouragement and learning. You meet with elders, deacons, other leaders, and if in a denomination, your governing body’s organization over the direction and concerns of the church. You encourage outreach to the surrounding community, leading by example of loving God and neighbor so that your congregants will do the same. Continue reading