I have meat to eat ye wot not of
So, I started a new God & Me
class tonight. I have four boys -- two in Kindergarten and two in 1st Grade -- with parent support. It was lively tonight. Oh, yes. I also accepted a request to come out to the District Camporee in a couple weeks and lead chapel on Sunday morning. Deanne was kind of surprised at that; after all, I'm supposed to lead chapel (and cook) for the Council Cub-o-ree two weeks later. Aren't I getting kind of busy?
Some would see my love for Scouting as the motivating factor here, but they would be wrong. I love Scouting, don't get me wrong, but it is not my love for Scouting that makes me say yes to these kinds of opportunities. It's my love for Jesus and my call to ministry. My life's work has been telling people about Jesus -- especially, telling young people about Jesus. That hasn't stopped because I retired; in some ways, retirement has freed me up to do ministry without the distractions of The Job.
Being a pastor not only has its distractions -- meetings, administration, keeping difficult people happy, keeping discouraged people connected, and so on -- but, well, the dirty little secret of the Church as we experience it is this. A majority of people in a majority of churches
-- even evangelical/orthodox/spiritual/whatever you want to call them churches -- are not serious about making disciples.
They haven't the first clue how to go about it, and they don't want to learn. This doesn't mean they're bad people, or unbelieving. They are, by and large, good people, concerned about their own souls and about those of their families. And they want their churches to prosper. But they can't see all the people I see who want to believe and belong -- and if they could see them, they would just count them as a nuisance instead of an opportunity.
Why do I do so much Scouting ministry? It's not because it gives me an opportunity to do Scouting,
but because it gives me an opportunity to do ministry.
I get to teach little kids how to pray! I get to tell a whole bunch of men and teens -- a goodly portion of whom rarely darken the doors of the church back home -- about the love of God and the adventure of faith. I get to talk with young adults who are wrestling with the future they're grasping for. And they want
me to do this. They seek me out!
Compare that with the people who make excuses about having to teach Sunday School. With the people who are fine with letting youth ministry slide so long as their church connection meets their own needs and convenience. With the people who complain about messes and dirt and want to write endless lists of rules. With the people who want their church to grow but who can't think of anyone to invite. With those who are jealous of the pastor's time spent with those
people, but who won't respond when the pastor offers to spend time with them and theirs. As I say, these are not bad people. They'll work, and work hard, doing programs, running events, attending things. But an awful lot of them don't know what actually matters, and they won't learn; meanwhile, the few who do know or want to learn struggle to do their ministry while the church piles all kinds of other responsibilities on them.
Behold! Kids matter. Lonely people matter. Overwhelmed parents matter. The spiritually hungry of all ages matter. I was sent to them, to seek them out wherever they might be found. I am as surprised as anybody that so many are found in uniforms of one color or another (adorned with lots of bright patches), but so it is. And best of all, these hearers are eager to listen to what I have to tell them. Who knows what wonders they might receive because they believed the word that was told them?