Ashamed of the Gospel
"A pastor ashamed of the gospel, these days, isn’t saying I’m ashamed of it. He’s saying, “It’s foundational, but let’s talk about this instead.”' - Matt Mason, Worship Pastor at the Church at Brook Hills
Yesterday I had the great pleasure to participate in the Philadelphia Partnership. It is a three-time-a-year gathering of pastors in the region meant to build a fraternity of sorts for pastors to hear teachings of refreshment and encouragement and share a meal together. No competition, no swagger, just pastors blessing each other. The session yesterday was rich. Dwayne Bond, a church planter from North Carolina, was our speaker and he called us to put expectations in check against the gospel - the work of Christ for us. Through our struggles, worry, toil and even success, Jesus calls us to himself to find rest. It was an important word for pastors in all seasons of ministry and one I think all Christians neglect. It was all about having a heart tuned to Christ and not our false expectations.
After the morning session I spoke with another pastor and he gave me his sense of things. The conversation went something like this: "I appreciate the heart stuff, and that is good, but I was sitting there thinking these guys need skills..." From the importance of a heart reliant on Christ for justification, purpose and passion, how often to we leap to capabilities and our strength and training for a task? Sadly too often. Sure skills are important, but let us not miss the fact that we live in a culture of information gluttony. There is more access to leadership training, success stories, best practices, than ever before. When it comes to ministry, however it is not the "skills that pay the bills" it is Christ and his empowerment that build a church and keep the churchman. After the brief conversation with the pragmatic pastor I am left only with concern for his heart, and the heart of so many others that, in my book, miss the point.
It is as if we are ashamed of the gospel when we move beyond it to anything other than it. If we are honest, most of the time Jesus is not our hero, we are in fact our hero. And if we are not running to Christ for empowerment and rest, we surely are not leading our people to him. Please, don't be one of those that miss the point. Run to Jesus.
"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30