In praise of pastors

Notes on Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck’s
Why we Love the Church:
in praise of institutions and organized religion

Chapter 4 : Appetite for Deconstruction (Why Church is boring, Christians are __…)

“The pastors’ conference was an eye-opening experience for me, a non-pastor. I got to spend a week having really interesting conversations with a whole bunch of mostly hardworking, earnest, kind pastors who are really concerned about shepherding their flocks and reaching them with the gospel.

…I had settled into a sort of de facto, either/or dynamic in which pastors are either wanna-be revolutionary types, or mostly boring but get-the-gospel-right young Reformed types. What I see here, at the conference, is a ‘both’ sitation. These guys, for the most part, are real and passionate about worship, about getting the gospel right, and about reach the lost. They sincerely care about reaching postmoderns, and not just because their future (read: members) depends on it. Most of them have been to seminary, and while seminary, as all of the ‘left the church and found God’ books will tell you, isn’t in any way a fast track to superspirituality, the majority of these men have spent more time studying the Scriptures and classic Christian texts than I have. I appreciate them for this.”

Ted Kluck, Why We Love the Church

What is it like to be a pastor in this day and age, when the trend among professing Christians is to be anti-church? I don’t know, but I can’t imagine it’s easy.

I can see this de facto either/or that Kluck refers to–either a pastor is hip and relevant or he is boring but Biblical. Either he’s chasing numbers and revolutionary ideas, or he’s stuck in the mud with yesterday’s doctrine. That’s the perception at any rate, the opinion you could easily get from reading the “get away from church” lit.

And then there’s the seminary thing–the books that say that seminary doesn’t do anything for pastors but turn them into dusty fuddy-duds. Seminaries are a thing of the past, today’s prognosticators declare. Call a seminarian and you’re fast-tracking your church for the grave.

That’s prevailing opinion–or at least that’s how prevailing opinion appears.

I’m heartened to hear of Kluck’s experience at this pastors’ conference. I’m heartened to hear of pastors who are passionate for postmoderns and passionate for sound doctrine. I’m heartened to hear that the seminaries aren’t dead–that young men still hunger after the Word of the Lord–and are willing to devote years of their lives to learning it.

It gives me hope for the church.

Kluck has a last coment about pastors in this segment of his chapter (yes, this is mostly footnote material): “They’ve also committed their lives to an enterprise (church) which can largely feel like a losing, uphill battle, and the Bible tells us will be out of place and largely reviled in culture. A lot of them feel discouraged and look tired.”

I can only imagine the burden these faithful men bear–the struggle to be faithful to the Word and relevant to this culture, the discouragement that comes with criticism from within and without.

Thank you, thank you, pastors–for bearing the burden, for devoting yourselves to the Word, for laying down your life for your people. Thank you, faithful shepherds, for taking hold of the call of God, for labouring for the safety and sanctification of the Lord’s flock.

I am encouraged by your service–and I pray that God would encourage your hearts in the good work to which He has called you. I pray, trusting that my God will supply all your needs, according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:19). It is a high call, a hard call, to pastor the church of God–but thank you for pressing on, despite all odds, towards the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil 3:14).

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