Thursday, June 24, 2010

Evangelism Myth 2 = The "Ideal" Myth

There is another Myth going around concerning Evangelism - and this is the myth of the Ideal. I noticed this because I heard a bit of the "Ideal Pastor" myth lately - that if your Pastor is just a certain way, a certain kind of fellow, then people will flock to him.

Oh, it's not said so bluntly as that. It's said under the guise of "leadership" - or that the pastor will be an "example of this outreach lifestyle." What in reality this all boils down to is that an ideal Pastor is supposed to be an out-going, creative person who is good looking, slick, the kind of guy people will look at and say, "Man, I wish I could be like him." In fact, at the TCN the other night, the "Ideal" pitchman-pastor noted how part of the program is that pastors in the program would be held accountable for their health and habits. . . translation - we think fat pastors are lousy pastors, cause people don't envy fat people in America any more.

And this got me to thinking. Am I the ideal pastor in any way? I'm not a stunningly handsome or charismatic man. I'm not outgoing - I'm much more of an introvert. I'm willing to serve and go, but I'm less likely to suggest. And even with things like this blog, I'm not nearly as creative as I am a responder (this is a response to what I have heard, not me just making something up). I'm a shy, intellectual counter-puncher, who likes to analyze and examine things, tinker with them.

(Side note: this might be why I love the Japanese - this is culturally what they excel at. Take something from other people, examine it, tinker with it, improve upon it. And Musashi Miyamoto, the greatest Samurai of all time, basically taught that the most effective way to fight was to wait for your opponent to expose a weakness when he began his attack - or in other words, be a counter puncher.)

So - what does this mean? I'm not the Ideal pastor - does this mean I am doomed, doomed to utter failure?

If I had just considered the plans of men instead of the world of God, yes. However, I much prefer to be in the Word. Consider this - "Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone."

Now, consider the typical Evangelism program that comes down the pike. Although they say they will customize it to you, to your demographics, and the like - are they not all pretty much cookie-cutter? They want pastors to act in way X (where X has nothing to do with preaching or teaching), they want people who outreach by doing Y (cause the people in the pew are going to be "ideal" pew-sitters too -- and they may even have a neat catch phrase for what the laity must be like). And if my talents don't lean that way. . . well, we'll just have to put you through training and try and fix you since we are stuck with you.

But thanks be to God, our Lord doesn't work that way. Do you know why I am a Pastor - not because I fit some ideal mold, not because I'm some bureaucrat's poster-boy vision of what the LCMS should look like. No, I'm a pastor because God in His wisdom gave me my talents, and then called me to be a pastor. Let me improve who I am, not attempt to be something I am not.

Likewise the laity. What are your joys, what are the ways of loving your neighbor that you delight in? Go do those! Go live out your vacation. If you like to bake - go bake. If you like yard work - go help out someone with their yard. If you are a nurse - go help someone with health stuff. If you can build - um, I myself could maybe put you to work. But whatever talents, whatever gifts God has given you (and I'm not talking about some "Spiritual gifts inventory" here, which assumes that only "Spiritual" gifts have real value - Hogwash!), go put those talents to use in showing love to your neighbor.

Then, as you do that, as you have opportunity, as God gives you courage (if and when He does), confess your Lord.

That's Scripture's instructions - instructions that are so flexible that they can be applied to us all - even if we aren't the "go-getter" that some slick-haired fellow tells us we should be - even if we aren't as fit as we ought to be. God made you - you are His workmanship, created for Good Works which He designed especially for you? Now, doesn't that give you more confidence than any $8000 Outreach "intervention" done by some so-called expert in Evangelism ever could?

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