Saturday, February 11, 2012

Blaster Pastor

Balance is so hard to achieve (and sustain) in ministry.

How much mercy, how much severity?
How much time for people, how much sermon prep?
How much pushing, how much hands-off?

What ditch do I feel like falling into today?

This is especially true in the matter of controversy in the wider church.

How much should I address debates and conflicts that are going on outside of our local realm? I'm not sure.

Should I speak out about the Elephant Room 2 controversy?  Most, if not all, of my people have never heard of the Elephant Room, James MacDonald, T.D. Jakes, or even Mark Driscoll -- and I'm thankful for that. But for the few that do know Driscoll or Jakes, should I say something? At church? On this blog?  (By the way, if I was going to say something, Carson and Keller's post conveys most of what I would say (no surprise there), but I would also want to add something, as Tim Raymond does, about the skewed understanding of pastoral ministry that things like ER2 are giving off, and I would want to add some thoughts about my discouragement that there has to be controversy at all.  I was asked what I think of the whole thing, and I said "Jake's move towards trinitarianism is good and something is better than nothing, but I don't think the whole thing was handled very well at all.")

Should I speak out over the debate on "masculine-feel" ministry that came out of John Piper's talk at the DesiringGOD pastors conference a couple of weeks ago?  I've read the talk and am listening to it in the car as I go back and forth from work this week. Honestly, I am profoundly disappointed and disheartened that there would be any controversy here at all. Piper's talk was careful and reasoned and qualified. I can't believe that many of the people upset about it have even listened to it or read it. He mainly put forward his long-standing complementarian position on ministry and then painted a vision for how the church would flourish if men truly took up the leadership roles that provide for and protect women--not just physically but theologically and spiritually.  What is so controversial about that?  I understand that some people disagree with his conclusions, but to read some of the things said, Piper must have been advocating extreme mysogyny, devaluing ladies' contributions, and ignoring the feminine aspects of Christianity. I just don't see it. And neither does my wife. Heather exults in just the sort of thing the Piper is promoting.

But should I say anything about it? Have I already said too much?

Of course, those are just two that have captured my attention. The blogworld teems with controversy over every point in the world. I read blogs about creation vs. evolution, historical or mythological Adam and Eve, fair trade versus free trade, and don't get me started on politics!

Sometimes, I feel like running from all of that and never saying a word. And sometimes I'm wisely holding in my two cents. But sometimes I'm silent because I'm trapped by the fear of man.

Sometimes I just want peace.

But peace at what cost?

There is a time to speak and speak boldly:
"Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage-- with great patience and careful instruction.  For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.  They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.  But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry."  2 Timothy 4:2-5

But there is a right and wrong way to go about it:

"Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will."  2 Timothy 2:23-26

When I'm not careening towards the ditch of appeasement and compromising silence, I'm careening towards the ditch of blasting my opinions at everyone.

Look out, it's the Blaster Pastor!

Lord, save me from that. Give me a reasoned, careful response to whatever controversies you want me to engage in and guide me through the quagmires. Help me to be motivated by love in all that I do and say. For the good of your people and the glory of the name of Jesus. Amen.