Tuesday, February 25, 2014

All Theory, No Experience

  I don't know if you have ever thought this, but I have.  While living my life in the local church, i will see a situation that is handled a certain way, and I will wonder 'would I have handled that the same way?'  It's probably just a mental exercise for me, but I  do ponder and think about stuff like that.  I don't anticipate that I will ever be in any sort of pastoral  position, for a variety of reasons, but I do wonder. if I was the guy who had to make the decision, and I couldn't  punt to somebody else, how would I do?  Truth is, though I have been tested in many areas of life, I have never been tested in this area, and so all I have is theory, but not experience.  I've got some Bible verses, but no experience at applying them. Since I have no experience and my track record in my own life is so spotty, chances are good that I have no idea what I'm talking about. Chances are  I am 'all hat, and no cattle', an  American exprssion if there ever was one.I should probably keep that in mind before I criticize somebody else.
  There is some things that I, as a pastor would probably never plan for because I am oblivious to them in my own life.  Fellowship pot-luck dinners, and stuff like that.  Unless somebody suggested it, it would never occur to me to do even though that sort of stuff is apparently really important to ..well, everybody else.   It would never occur to me  to be worried about the  color of the carpet in the auditorium or whether or not we should have crown molding, because frankly I don't care. I say burn the building down and let's meet under a tree for a while. I would like to think that, as a pastor, I would  preach and teach the  Bible and provide every opportunity for people who genuinely wanted to serve Jesus Christ to do so..  Now that all sounds good, but how do you handle the little unexpected curves the ministry throws your way?
  For example, let's say you have a young lady in your church who  has just gotten saved.  it's a glorious thing and she is excited, as she should be.  But she is  still a baby Christian, and she still doesn't understand that there is a biblical definition of 'nakedness' , which is violated on a regular basis by most of the world.  So this fresh-faced eager young lady wants to sing for Jesus in the choir. The Bible commands her to  praise the name of her Saviour, and I have no right to deny her that based off of her ignorance.  I want to give her every opportunity to serve Jesus Christ, and if I  prevented her until she  got everything sorted out, I would also  have to prevent myself because I don't have everything sorted out.  So she wants to sing. Great. Talent is, in my opinion, not a prerequisite to praise. But what she doesn't know is that in her  regular wardrobe the first 4 rows can see all the way to Miami, so to speak.  How do you handle it?
  You don't want to be this guy:

 Equally damaging would be  if you were this guy:

  Standards are important, and I wouldn't even think of treating them lightly. But at the same time, she doesn't know what she doesn't know, and looking down on her ignorance (as opposed to dealing with rebellion) would be as ridiculous as me  chiding my 5 year old for not having a job.  I have been in churches where you couldn't  serve in any sort of ministry capacity unless you jumped through various hoops and met somebody else's criteria. I've seen churches where you couldn't take up the offering without  a suit and tie on.  I personally  think very little of that sort of place.  If there are Bible standards fine, but I could n't care less if you don't like beards and wire-rimmed glasses.

  Now I understand that  eventually she'll figure it out.   There is a process of growth in every Christian life, and  we've all been there.  Given time I could also  cover, in a public setting so that nobody feels pointed out, the importance of modesty, and what the Bible says on the topic. But I'm not talking about  six months from now. I'm talking right now she wants to sing, and you've got to make a judgment call.  What do you do?  If you  play this wrong, you'll crush her and  extinguish her desire to serve God. If you handle this wrong, she'll believe all her friends who tell her that you're just a bunch of 'legalists' and she'll bop on down the road to the rock and roll church that will let her  sing in a  bikini.  So what do you do?
  The clock is ticking, Mr Wanna-Be-Bishop.  Make the call.

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