Having pastored for about 5 years, and not pastoring for about 4 years now, I’ve had some time and distance away from it to come out with 3 observations about church life (in no particular order nor priority, just what comes to mind during this blogging moment):
1. Church is both organism and organization. Even the most organic expressions of church (a word with roots going back to Old English and the Greek for “the Lord’s house”, and related to the word ekklesia, meaning “the called out ones”), it still has levels of organization, albeit less formal, less systematic, maybe less planned and more spontaneous. Organization has been developed to such a business and science in modern America, some half-jokingly describe how America has turned Christianity into an entrepreneural enterprise.
2. I went into ministry expecting God to do more of the work for me, and I would do the spiritual disciplines kind of thing to show my dependence and reliance. Waiting on God. Prayer is the real work. Let go and let God. Those were the foundational mantras. The practical reality of things involved more of my own effort than I bargained for. Not that I didn’t want to work hard, I did. I was plain naive. Now I’m realizing that it’s as much human effort as it is divine intervention, not less human effort.
3. Scorched souls are among the greatest tragedy of church life. While each church caters to a particular demographic, whether through a social network, or a strategic targeting of a community segment, the best intentions of well-meaning Christian leaders has scorching negative impact on some of its attenders and/or members. I’m just speaking of upstanding Christians, not those who choose to opt-out of the faith to explore other options (whether it’s towards a sinful lifestyle or an alternative religion). I still know a handful of people who have yet to recover from the scorching effect of burnout, legalism, power trips, church conflicts, poor counsel, et al. Intentions don’t matter as much as the impact on the recipient. Quality congregational and pastoral care is so hard to find.