we [clergy] also complained about the people in our churches. they were incessantly lazy and under committed. their priorities were wrong. they weren’t serious about the kingdom of god. they were basically lousy Christians. i’ve come to realize that i need to ask forgiveness for those comments and thoughts. i realize now that those of us in that room were not as in touch with the real world as we truly believed we were. we were paid to study, to coffee, to talk. we were paid to go to the board meetings, no one else was. people were not under-committed, they were over committed. they were not lazy, they were harried. it wasn’t that their priorities were necessarily wrong; it might have been that we had completely unrealistic expectations. life is nuts. (The whole thing here)
This is why I NEVER whine about my schedule. I NEVER badmouth my congregation; a lesson I learned from my intern supervisor, a very wise and effective pastor.
It makes me crazy when I hear my colleagues grumble about their congregations. Most churches are filled with hard working, faithful believers who are trying to do the best they can with limited resources but huge commitments.
This past weekend our congregation celebrated it’s 50th anniversary of ministry and mission to the people of Lethbridge. The whole event confirmed my view that people in our churches will give until they drop if they believe in a cause deeply enough.
The work that went into planning the weekend, much less making it happen. The hall, the worship, the history book, the banner, everything was done with love, joy, and excellence. All I had to do was show up. The committee did everything else.
It reaffirmed for me that I serve the best congregation ever.
When I was in the seminary, I was the typical sanctimonious seminarian. I saw the congregation as lazy, uninterested, goons, who were more interested in getting rich than furthering God’s kingdom.
Then I went on internship and had to confront my prejudices. My internship was a .life changing experience. The folks were faithful, hard working, and very patient. They gently guided me to a newer, and fuller understanding of what God wants the church to be.
I learned that God wants fewer heroes and more disciples, more graciousness and less sanctimony, greater love and care and less judgment.
Funny. When the scales fell from my eyes I began to see most churches like this. It’s amazing what happens when self-centredness and arrogance are washed away. Life in the church begins to look a whole lot different.