We are the Church of many
I have not been an ELCA pastor very long, but already I know one thing for sure:
The Church is in trouble if they only look to the pastor. The Church is in even bigger trouble if they only look to me.
Yes, my wife would say this is again me being self-deprecating. But, the fact is it's TRUE. People of Holy Redeemer often hear me say this and I cannot stress it enough.
The Church is not the church of one. It's the Church of many.
It's the Church of many grounded in Scripture. The Church of many discerning God's Spirit and activity. The Church of many expecting Jesus to show up and be present in our community.
That's the Church I desire. That's the Church I strive to be.
And I see this happening at Holy Redeemer, where I am so blessed and privileged to serve as pastor. Thus far, this has been my favorite aspect of being a pastor. Watching the Church in action. Seeing communities collide. Observing as young and old join in service of the Gospel.
In Mark DeVries book, "Sustainable Youth Ministry," he argues that nowadays we live in an "expert culture." I agree with him. We live in a time where everyone only does what they are an expert in. Everything is so specialized and we dare not do something that we aren't trained or schooled in.
Now for some things, like home projects I am a proponent for this mentality. Although with the internet and youtube "how-to's" so accessible, people are re-claiming this sense of "Do-it-Yourself" again. But, I think this "expert culture" mentality has found its way into our churches. I see this especially in youth ministry. I cannot tell you how many parents have in some form or another shared how they weren't equipped to teach about faith or the Bible and that's what I, as the pastor, was for.
I want to push back on this. I want to reclaim that faith isn't reserved for the few. It's for all. Jesus didn't die for the few. He died for all. Jesus doesn't call the qualified. He qualifies the called. And Jesus calls all of us to be a part of His ministry. Jesus calls all of us to participate in His mission. Not just me but you as well.
This isn't meant to be scary or burdensome.It's not meant to add more to your already busy schedules. It's meant to empower you. For you to realize, Jesus wants you, yes you, to be a part of this work.
I want to end by reminding you, God loves you. You were fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139). You are beautiful and have unique gifts to offer this world. May the Church be a place and space for you to live out your gifts, skills and talents that God has given you. That's when I BELIEVE the Church is strongest and at it's best. When we are many pointing to the one who gave himself away for all. When we come together to shine our collective light. When that happens, that's when we are Church.
God Bless you and the work you do!