Churches Partnering To Transform Lives and Communities
By Tony Pappas Second in an ongoing series
Recently I had a long conversation with a faithful, committed, retired pastor. He was quite upset. His church had deliberately called a younger, outside-the-box thinker as its new pastor in order to reach new people. The new pastor was making many changes. People were offended; people were leaving. Why, "we no longer say the Lord's Prayer!" The pain was evident. Yet it might have been more helpful to ask these questions: "What form (and format) is God calling us to embody here and now in order to obey the Great Commission?" and "What should I do, as a committed Christian, when the form of my worshipping experience changes and I no longer feel the satisfactions that I have become used to?"
If we can separate what works for me from what God wants now, we will go a long way to fruitful obedience. It amazes me that we worship One who was crucified and yet we want to follow the Crucified One painlessly!
Yet, having said that, it pains me, too. I would rather sing "When the Roll is Called Up Yonder," than a never-ending chorus. I would rather listen to a monologic sermon, follow a known order to worship, and benedict in one hour. And, depending on the piece, I even enjoy organ music! All of that is familiar, comforting, non-anxiety-producing; It's easy, safe and calming. But none of those qualities make it Christian. If Christ is calling us beyond that, let us figure out a way to deal with our grief and then get going!
Tony Pappas is the executive minister of The American Baptist Churches of Massachusetts. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org