Friday, April 03, 2009

A Prayer for Our Congregations...

Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

Ephesians 1:15-23


selahV said...

Amen...and a prayer for me. thanks.

Karma Shuford said...

a bit of a reaction that i have been mulling over for a few days --
complete and total bewilderment that a pastor would pray for the congregation. or that he would pray something other than "show them I'm right" or "make them follow me."

that should NOT be a foreign concept to me, nor should it surprise me. (i'm related to and friends with a bunch of preachers) but, it does help to tangify (I made that up) how i feel about "preachers" and i'm not sure i like it.

for the past 7 - 10, i seem to have grown into a us (the lay people) vs. them (the preacher) mindset. i've loved the men we've had as pastors dearly and i've always tried to support them and encourage them however i could, but i've rarely felt on the same team as them. it's almost like there is a gap or chasm between them that "we" are not allowed to cross. not because we aren't "worthy" but because we just can't -- we're not preachers and only preachers can do that.

now, i fully acknowledge the fallacy of this thinking -- it simply is not "true," but i'm wondering how many lay people in how many churches feel that way. and how many preachers feel isolated and alone (and like they are pulling horses out of the mud) because of it.

i wonder if the "opposition" some pastors face is because, unlike a pack of dogs where alpha dog earns his way into leadership (bad analogy, sorry), the pastor is elected/called in and we automatically turn the reins and leadership (and the respect that goes with it) to him sight unseen, which bothers a lot of people, and they may, in a sense, resent him without realizing it.

i'm just rambling, and i know that is only tenuously related to the scripture you posted at best, but i've read it several times and these things keep bouncing in my head.

Tony said...

Mrs. V,

Prayers said!


To be perfectly honest, I was not anticipating this post to generate any discussion at all, so your thoughts are very welcome.

A few things are surprising to me, particularly: complete and total bewilderment that a pastor would pray for the congregation.

I don't think you meant it that way, or at least I hope you don't think that pastors don't pray. I think your thought was simply continuing in the following sentence...

I know very well the type of pastor you are describing; of the "touch not thine anointed" stripe, that thinks that they are above criticism and rebuke.

Often on this blog and others I have argued that the best and worst thing that has happened to the contemporary church is the professionalization of the ministry. Like a lot of things, the pastorate can be done very well, but then it can be done very badly.

I hope and pray that I am one who does it WELL and that my people are a lot more to me than underlings and that I am more than "he who is to be obeyed."

I think a definite mark of a good pastor is a man who can relate to the people he serves well. If he can effectively lead and "grow" the people without forcing or coercing spirituality out of them, then that is an effective pastor.

Unfortunately, I have seen too much of the former attitude; "follow me or the church won't grow", "follow me or you're not spiritual", follow me or you're not a good Christian", "follow me or you are damaging the church," etc. etc. etc.

A lot of lay people do feel isolated from their pastors and it is communicated in a variety of ways. I regularly ask the folks to pray for me and my family. I NEVER go first at fellowship meals. Often, I preach from the floor rather than from the platform.

The pulpit, though important in its symbolism, constructs (to a degree) an artificial divide and often gives the pastor an aura of unapproachability which I think is unhealthy and a lot of pastors hide behind it. I often ask for critiques of my preaching.

I don't say all this stuff to hold myself up as some kind of model, but simply to affirm that I see the same problems and I am taking some small steps to rectify the problems at the church I serve, and hopefully communicate the same ideas to the people.