Y’all, I teared up.
I can’t recall the last time I felt this affirmed about the ministry God has given me! Out of the blue, unnecessarily, I received 2 words of encouragement and affirmation yesterday. They were unrelated comments and given by two totally different people. I usually struggle with compliments. Many of you know that. But I received those words as true affirmation. I didn’t think too much about it afterwards.
I’ve cried in Bible study before. I had tears when I read Same Kind of Different as Me–which I heard the movie is on Netflix now. Other than that, I don’t know that I’ve ever been emotional after reading something. Then last night I began reading From the Steeple to the Street.
Where do I begin?
I hope I do this justice.
The author wrote about “Petrine apostleship” and “Pauline apostleship.” The easy way for me to boil those terms down is by suggesting there are, for the sake of this conversation, 2 types of pastors: Those who pastor established churches (Petrine, considering the apostle Peter’s ministry) and those who plant churches (Pauline, considering the Apostle Paul).
I’ve wrestled with this for a long time. Because, I think, of my big mouth and personality, people have often tried to lead me to Pauline apostleship, church planting. Let me confess to you. I’ve considered becoming a church planter many times because I’ve often thought it couldn’t be anywhere near as difficult as trying to reform an already-established church. That doesn’t mean I don’t think there are challenges in church planting. I’m smarter than that. I don’t know how I would handle some of those challenges.
But starting new has its great advantages.
Trying to renew, it seems, merely has advantages.
To be frank, the Pauline pastors are the ones everyone wants to hear from. They, supposedly, have all the good ideas and are in tune with the new things of the Spirit more than anyone else. I don’t want you to think I’m ranting about anything. So, I’m going to keep that thought short. Just know that’s the way it is sometimes.
To be even more frank, there have been times where I have questioned what the Heaven I’m doing in these churches. People complain too much. Bicker too much. Criticize too much. Pray too little. And then tell me it’s all for the glory of God. Thankfully, I’ve learned to let all that slide off. I don’t take any of it personally–just ask my wife. But it is frustrating because we’re supposed to be dedicated to the kingdom of God, not to the kingdom of Me.
Have I bored you yet?
Okay, here’s the part that brought out some emotions in me. The author had something strong to say about pastors like me (See? I’m not the only one!). I’ve already considered that you might not find this as meaningful as me, but that’s okay. Speaking about Petrine pastors, he says:
Complex organizational realities and competing political realities don’t rob Petrine apostles of their joy. (Not completely, at least.) The needs of the world outside the church, and the potential meaning and joy that come from being a missional church, keep the Petrine apostles in the proverbial game. Petrine apostles will be misunderstood by both the old-schoolers within the traditional church as well as the spiritual swashbucklers outside it. From the one side will come unwarranted complaints that the Petrines only care about the new and creative ministries. From the other side will come unfair accusations that, if they had missional hearts, the Petrines would be out on the front lines instead of in an established church. They miss out on the hero status bestowed upon the pioneers, and suffer from charges of neglect from people who crave more attention. They are disparaged by tradition-bound pastors who view the Petrines’ creativity as frivolity, and, on the other hand, are dismissed by pioneers who assume the Petrines are motivated by fear or money or another one of the unseemly reasons why someone would want to draw a salary from a church.
The one called to love God’s sons and daughters as they are, and to draw out from them a God-given passion for those yet outside the family, are Petrine apostles.
I want to say something about every one of those sentences. For now, I’m thankful that God saw it fit to give some encouragement and a strong, renewed sense of affirmation. If you thought I was annoying up until now………