Old preacher types like me often bemoan how our world is different from when we entered the ministry as bright-eyed, wet-behind-our-ears seminary or Bible college graduates. After 30+ years of pastoring, trying not sound disgruntled (“Get off my lawn, you kids!) but still say, “it’s true.” Things are different now. Here’s a not exhaustive list:
- People attend church less. Give less. Serve less. Seem to pray less. But expect more.
- The Bible is not seen as authoritative anymore. Member’s preferred cable news seems to carry as much weight (if not more) as the Bible these days.
- Sunday mornings are not off limits to sports, camping trips or any other activity.
- Wednesday Nights are not considered “church night” by public schools. Concerts and sporting activities take place on Wednesdays just like any other night.
- Young adults don’t “sow their wild oats” and later return to the church; now too often they “sow their oats” (wild or otherwise) but don’t return.
- Social media has given a voice to every disgruntled and carnal member who cowardly spews hate, lies and gossip. (Mark Zuckerberg might think he created Facebook, but after seeing the carnage caused by social media, it sure looks like the Enemy was involved. If not at the beginning, he jumped on board quick.)
- Political angst has splashed into the church creating more friction than a sandpaper factory.
Enough examples, you get it — pastoring is different in today’s world.
But it’s not all bad, here’s what hasn’t changed:
- The Bible is still true. For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.(Hebrews 4:12). The Bible still forms a firm foundation in its “alive and active” pages. It still convicts and convinces people that God loves them and has a better, deeper, richer, fuller, more abundant life for them.
- Broken and hurting people are still everywhere. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way (Isaiah 53:6). The world is broken and full of broken people. It was true when Jesus walked this earth. It’s still true today. We have no shortage of people who have yet to experience the love and grace of Jesus. Sometimes these folks are in our pews week after week. Sometimes not. But all of us have “gone astray” and need Jesus!
- Jesus is still Lord. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.(Hebrews 13:8). Jesus still repairs and restores broken and hurting people. Jesus still conquers every foe. Jesus is still the victor. Jesus is still the answer for our hurting, broken, troubled, lonely planet. Jesus’ message never grows old and His love never wanes.
All this to say, the world is different, but God is still on the throne! Praise the Lord!