It has been said that the hope of the world lies in the local church. This is actually a very astute statement because it recognizes that the local church is the fundamental point where religion and society intersect. It’s like saying that Ford is the dealership down the street versus that behemoth in
Dearborn Michigan: you can’t go into the head office and buy a car. So with religion, you can’t just call the Vatican
and ask the Pope if he’d come down to your house to lead a Bible study.
of Acts is about people, not buildings or organizations, but in the modern world many see the people being encouraged to fund national and international structures that do little to build healthy relationships with each other and with God, through Christ Jesus. In the secular world we talk about death and taxes, and it seems parallel to the religious world talking about death and tithes.
We are left with the question of whether a church leader works for an organization that needs to keep the cash flowing, or for a cause whose purpose is to save souls. Is a leader motivated to reaching out to a desperate humanity, or to the next phase of restoring that massive gothic cathedral that’s sucking the community dry?
When the Disciples asked Jesus who should be first he scolded them for seeking the wrong thing, but people seem to need structure since so few are actually leaders. Once beyond the local church the hierarchy starts to balance faith and politics, and the closer to the executive level the more politics dominates. Hierarchy detracts from piety, and ambition detracts from spirituality.
It would seem that the church in the First World has spent too much time on itself. Attendance has been in freefall, particularly in mainline denominations, for at least twenty five years, the church’s influence in society has been dramatically undermined, and yet society has never sought spirituality more than it does today. There’s a huge disconnect that the corporate church seems unwilling to engage.
Ultimately it’s the local church that lives or dies by how relevant a role it plays in its community, and its success boils down to the skill and dedication of congregational leaders, especially pastors.
A pastor understands his flock, he walks with it, he leads it and guides it, he feeds and nourishes it, and he protects it from evil. Jesus told Peter to feed His sheep, and the reformed Peter did just that. There are church leaders like that today, they’re few in numbers, but they are hugely successful in bringing people into a loving relationship with God.
An effective pastor can be more successful than his or her denomination, and each is truly called to perform servant ministry in the Jesus mode. They have many skills, but two attributes set them apart from their peers. They are complete devotion to God, and that devotion surpasses whatever the latest denominational fad might be, and they live in complete humility as servant leaders, concerned primarily with saving souls. Wisdom resides in these people and that brings all glory and honor to God.