Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Wow Men?

I have struggled the last few years with a deep conviction that we/I have been overwhelmingly influenced by a world view of church that is not a God view of His church. The word, the concept, the functions, and the success of "church" is defined more by the world than by what God created the church to be. Time and space won't allow a detailed discuss of this in a blog, but I can't help but wonder how much our view of "The Preacher" is defined by the world rather than the Word.
I remember having several meetings with a Minister Search Committee at a Bible Belt church in Tennessee almost five years ago. The older members of the team, including the older staff members, wanted a minister with maturity, someone who could provide spiritual leadership and guidance, and show them how to be like Jesus. The younger members wanted a "Wow" man. A dynamic-knock'em-dead-in-the-pew-preacher who would attract listeners from far and wide - or so they imagined. I remember leaving our last meeting with them and mentioning to Donna "Those folks wouldn't hire Jesus. He wouldn't be dynamic enough for them."
That wasn't being defensive or judgmental on my part. It was an honest evaluation of what their view of the preacher was - which is probably true for lots of Committees, elderships, and church folk in general.
I have a friend who is a preacher. He is one of the most Christ-like brothers I have ever known. He exudes the very essence of the fruit of Spirit. He loves people and they love him. He ministers to their needs and SHOWS them what it means to be like Jesus. He is not a dynamic pulpiteer. After a long ministry with a congregation, the leadership talked with him and decided it was time for a change in preachers. Was he not enough like Jesus? Did he fail to grow love within the family? Maybe he wasn't enough of a "Wow" man.
To often the job of public speaking is a greater priority than the job of quietly being like Jesus to people who desperately need to see Him. Sometimes the job of preaching resembles American Idol more than it does the Pastoral Epistles. Maybe with our consumer-driven-church shopping-make-me-feel-good-or-else mentality about religion, it shouldn't be surprising that "Wow" men are in demand and the number of people training to be in ministry is at an all time low. After all, what do you want when it comes to church? Someone who captures your attention or someone who draws your attention to Jesus?
I'm not saying these are mutually exclusive. I happen to think I do a decent job of preaching. The question is about what's most important. A ministers most important task, hands down, no exception, far & away, is being Jesus - as best you can.

1 comment:

N.R. Kehn said...

I'm glad you added that last paragraph, because I was thinking the same thing. But I'm not sure which one is more important. I think it's a combination of the two. If you are like Jesus, I think there will be some attention on you. But at the same time, it's completely believable that someone is like Jesus, but no one pays attention to them because they do not appeal in a culturally relevant way. What I mean by that is, if people can not see the principles and meanings behind what it is that you are trying to communicate, then you're not really reaching anyone. When the prophets spoke, it was in a way that the people would understand what they were trying to say. They were culturally relevant (when it came to looming destruction). Jesus himself was a "wow" man to some extent. Perhaps not in the way we might all imagine, but He was someone who people were drawn to. So in my own conclusion, it's a combination of both those things. Being Jesus is the first priority to us all, but part of being a preacher is being able to communicate in a way that is meaningful to the recipients. Now that does not mean they will always agree with you, but at least they understand what you're trying to say... Of which you do great Mike, no worries. :)