I was asked recently how I keep going as a pastor. The question came from work I have been doing with the Wytheville District Strategy Team. So, the answer was going to be passed on to other clergy. I was honored to be asked such a question. Why was I honored to be asked how I keep going as a pastor?
Knowing that every year there are literally thousands of clergy who leave full-time ministry, to be asked how I keep going as a pastor means a lot to me. It is by the grace of God that I go. Men and women leave the full-time ministry for reasons ranging from being tired of all levels of church politics to personal health reasons. Including in the reasons are sins that make pastoral ministry difficult.
So, each of the reasons are valid. I pray that my colleagues in the ministry who have had to step away from full-time ministry are being warmly accepted and encouraged by the many churches around this country. For it is when we are encouraged, that God can use these men and women to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ once again.
And I also know that some of the same reasons that clergy use to leave full-time ministry are the exact same excuses that the laity of the church use to leave the church. That is right, I know that the people in the pews get tired of all levels of church politics. Sometimes when a church member is caught in sin, they don’t want to hear the gossip about themselves at church, or receive the looks from the rest of the church! And yes, when our health keeps us out of church, we sometimes keep out of church even when we are doing better physically.
What are we to do about this leaving of the church? The writer of Hebrews gives us some good inspiration in chapter 10, verses 19-31. The verses that sticks out to me are 24 and 25: “And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (NRSV)
It takes both the clergy and the laity of the church to encourage one another. That is right, as disciples of Jesus Christ all of us are responsible to find out what is keeping our brothers and sisters in Christ from weekly worship. Then, instead of gossiping about it, we encourage one another to get back into worship. It is when we are in worship that we can be inspired to do the good deeds that God has set out for us.
I hope to see you Sunday. You are important to the church. For when you are missing, there is less love in the church. For when you are missing, there are fewer good deeds done.
I don’t want you to be caught unaware when Christ Jesus returns. Beloved, be in church so you can be ready for the return of Jesus.
In Christ’s Service,