May 252015
 

countrychurch-2““None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.””

(Romans 3:10–18 ESV)

I have made my name in this world by speaking loudly and often of others mens sins.

This is the spiritual equivalent of making your name walking the high wire over Niagra after a few drinks.

Eventually, you’re going to fall.

When you fall those brothers in arms who have cheered you on will turn those arms upon you and it will be next man up for the wire.

We speak of the evil that men do while offering little insight to our own…there are few mirrors in my home.

There is none righteous…

The ones spoken of want forgiveness without repentance, we prefer judgment without grace.

No, not one…

I feel my foot slipping.

I have not told the whole story…

The board in the foyer tells us that last weeks attendance was 53 and the offering was $104.00.

This week will be about the same.

The pastor stands at the door and acknowledges his flock as they leave…if they were walking the other way it would look more like lunch time in a rest home than a church.

He preached again with passion and that passion was lost on people who gave passion up many years before.

He spoke of being a soul winner though any souls that have been won have apparently gone elsewhere for a new home.

His wife taught Sunday School as she does every week, though the only children there are her own.

Both wife and children look like they could use a break from each other.

They will not get one.

The pastor watches the last car leave the gravel driveway, locks the door, and hurries home for lunch.

He  has to work the swing shift at the Wal Mart tonight.

This is how it goes week after week, year after year.

That is the life of the average American pastor.

He has no money, no retirement plan, no hope for earthly ease in this life.

His special messages are for funerals, not conferences,… and it won’t be many more funerals until the church is closed.

He chooses to stay and do the funerals anyway.

He is blamed for the sins of men he’s never met and never will.

Those guys don’t do funerals.

They don’t shop at Wal Mart.

This is the only story that will ever be written about him and I can’t remember his name.

I’ll get back on the wire when I do…

 

  25 Responses to “Another Story About Another Pastor”

  1. Whew. I can see this story in a 1940s era black and white film, with Jimmy Stewart playing the pastor, wearing a dusty suit that’s a bit short and thread worn…. Picturesque, ala Grapes of Wrath.

    True story….. Pointing fingers need to grasp the reflection side of the mirror before allowing the tongue to speak or mind to make the decision to despise or judge. Alas. We won’t.

    My hope is built, on nothing less, than Jesus’ Blood and Righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ Name.

  2. Amen and amen, Paige…

  3. If only this pastor would attend the next webinar on how to break the barrier of attendance. If only his preaching were more relevant. If only he’d just take a few pointers from Andy Stanley or Ed Young. If only…

  4. One of the main things we just might be facing when we stand in front off Jesus is how we really treated others.

    We’re we condescending or arrogant towards others etc…

    Our dear pastor in your post steps up to the plate and keeps swinging.

    He is fulfilling his role to his sheep not as a hireling like some but as a true shepherd.

    If he cleans the floors at Walmart to survive he will do it.

    He signed up for the duration.

    And so should we…

  5. Well, clearly God has not specially anointed that guy nor blessed him with special profit powers…b/c “Where God guides, he provides!” and butts in seats and money flowing are THE “fruit” that you are God’s anointed…

  6. One of the unsung heroes……this side of heaven.

  7. Nonnie,, words right on target (again)… “this side of heaven”

  8. sitting here thinking because when i leave this site, i’ll go back to working on a rewrite of my biographical novel of my maternal grandparents’ lives – the first time i sat down to do this a few years ago, i was concentrating on being sure my facts and chronology were accurate, but this time i’ve been deeply impressed by the man’s walk, his absolute dedication to holiness that i thought was unrealistic. It may have been,,but going back over their history now… my word! How did i miss how God kept them through everything… i hope that what i’ll leave the children now will reflect that – not so much just the places, names and dates

  9. Our small parish has about 50-60 people on a Sunday morning and our priest has a part time secular job and his wife has a full-time secular job. She’s not the Sunday school teacher because we don’t have Sunday school but she directs the choir, which in an EO church means nearly 2 hours of continual singing and chanting. Yet our parish is vibrant, with people of all ages and nationalities. We have more baptisms than funerals. It’s a lively little church; nothing sad sack about it at all.

  10. Of course, if some gigantic mega-Orthodox church set up shop across town with a famous priest known for his dynamic homilies, our parish might dwindle.

    But we don’t do that.

  11. Good reminder. Thanks Michael.

  12. Thank you for posting this. I was almost ready to give up ever visiting this site again.

    I feel like I’m drowning sometimes in negativity when I read here.

    The incessant attacks, mocking and scorning dished out here by one individual in particular is so overwhelming and overbearing at times I can’t take it.

    I mean, I’m a realist and understand the need for dealing with matters, but post after post, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year? Really?

    Thanks again for reminding me that for the most part, this church, it’s pastor and congregants are in the majority, not the other way around.

  13. This is the state of every church in my little town…it’s not as sad as it is a testimony to faithfulness.

  14. I think Christians ought to go to these little churches and help build them up.

    We are to love God and love our neighbor. What better way to love one’s neighbor than for a vibrant young family to become a part of a failing church. So what if the sermon is dreary- if it’s good sermonizing you want, there’s the Internet. (I think sermons are over-rated anyway.) If the music is pokey, help them sing! So what if there’s no rock band or Disneyland-style children’s ministry. That’s not what church is about anyway; it’s about being faithful to God and to His people. Just don’t go in with the idea you are going to change everything to your own liking and bring them “up to date!”

  15. There is a dissatisfaction that underlies all of this.

    The pastor seems dissatisfied with his number, the offering, the demographics, the level of engagement. He seems dissatisfied with his secular job.

    On the other hand, he seems to be the one that is most satisfied. The rest of those gathered there seem almost like they can barely stand to be there.

    I’m not sure that this is a description of the faithful pastor. It seems like there is something seriously wrong with this gathering, and if this is the majority, we are likely in even bigger trouble than we thought.

  16. dswoager,

    It’s really hard to pastor a church, work a job, and raise a family.
    Most of these little churches are older churches that have been in a community for years and people have grown old in them.
    I think this is a wonderful thing in itself.
    I think these churches used to be the “fabric” of a community.
    Unfortunately most people who live here drive to other towns to worship…more programs, better music…a better show.
    The small church doesn’t have the tools to compete…but these pastors stay faithful.
    I think they are great men of God.

  17. Xenia,

    I will go you a step further and say that instead of planting new churches, the planters should be coming alongside these existing churches to strengthen them.

  18. #17 I think that is why B.Graham will always have a stronger legacy than those who used ‘revivals’ to build ” new word” aka their own kingdoms. His revivals brought churches together, plugged folks into existing bodies. Just my opinion from outside the camp….

  19. Michael, I don’t necessarily see anything wrong with the gathering that your are describing other than the fact that everyone seems pretty unhappy. I don’t think it’s necessarily about competing with the megachurch down the road, but if everyone is miserable you should perhaps look at what you are doing and see if there is a configuration that might make things a little more bearable.

    I’m not reading the joy in spite of their lack of conventional measures of success. I see the description of a bunch of people who have become resigned to be unhappy with their church.

    That’s sad, and probably unnecessary.

  20. Michael, absolutely!

    I remember a few years ago two men with big smiles came to the door advertising their shiny new Baptist church and would we please come. I said that there were already eleven Baptist churches in our small town and why did we need a new one? Why couldn’t you two hale and hearty men join the work in progress and hold up the feeble hands? They replied that they had something new and vibrant to offer. Phooey. If they really cared about God’s people they would have found a floundering congregation and served the (probably elderly) members. But nope, they wanted young people and a rock band, not lovely old hymns and people who really could use their help. Instead, they wanted careers as pastors.

  21. as i grew up, i didn’t see my grandfather as a pastor as he wasn’t pastoring a church during my growing up years
    i was surprised to find the assistant pastor of the mega church that i’d joined come and sit by his bedside for an hour or more (he’d had a debilitating stroke) afternoon after afternoon, i know he was in prayer while there and i know that the most my grandfather could articulate was a garbled amen… but i don’t know that, do i? they were alone, so who knows?
    he spoke to my grandmother with deference and respect – he said these visits with my grandfather blessed him and deepened his faith
    perhaps, some of these mega church pastors today could benefit by spending time with an anonymous faithful man of God
    and it makes me wonder if we should broad-brush all mega pastors as shallow and ambitious? dunno, we live in a time where the world will consume you, if you have anything that pleases them

  22. Everytime I see a new Walmart go up, I lament the loss of small family businesses.

    Everytime I see a new mega-church come to town, I lament the passing of small churches.

  23. Xenia @ 22…amen.

    dswoager….the people in the congregation are very happy the church is still there.
    In corporate church culture, it’s survival is quite uncertain, however.

  24. A good post… Nothing like a reality check to keep my feet planted firmly on the ground.

  25. “The board in the foyer tells us that last weeks attendance was 53 and the offering was $104.00.

    This week will be about the same.”

    In the modern apologetically / financially driven enterprise this pastor would be gutted like a dead fish on Friday with absolutely no mercy whatsoever.

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