The Train-Spotting Pastor

I’ll never forget the joke I heard one day about the pastor who used to take his lunch breaks at the train station. He would watch them come in and leave for the whole time and then head back to his office. When asked why he did this every day, he replied “i just like to see something that moves without me pushing it.”

There’s something tiring about the endless pushing that a pastor has to do to keep the church running. We’re afraid of losing momentum, because momentum is priceless. Once a church loses momentum it seems to cannibalize itself.

We pass of pushing stuff as creating “buzz”, communication, mobilizing the troops, keeping everyone focused and good leadership but after awhile it smacks of spruiking and shameless promotion.

The problem is we know that if an event, program, meeting, worship service or conference falls flat because people didn’t show up, because there was no “wow! God is Great!” factor, it has a knock on effect. Word of mouth, long memories, people won’t come next time, the event dies and yet we so believed in it.

Yes, we should have more faith, but “shoulds” and spiritual and emotional health have an unhappy marriage. We should just “let go and let God”, but at the end of the day we have Maxwell’s truisms haunting us “everything rises and falls on leadership”. The buck stops with us.

The answer? My answer is only a dream. Or is it a memory that has been handed down through the ages? The bible records a time shortly after Jesus’ resurrection, that the church had momentum generated by God’s spirit walking amongst his people. The best that the early leaders could do is simply direct the traffic. It was basically organised chaos. The buzz was generated by a love for God that nothing could quench and the x-factor was the tangible presence of God in people’s lives.

They really knew what it was to walk with Him and yet none were perfect. There were not many who were talented, intelligent or strong. They were just average Joe’s who walked with God… and I have no idea how to build a community like that, except that maybe if I can learn to walk with Him, then maybe I can help others.


One Response

  1. This post brings up a lot of memeories for me. Its been just over a year since I gave up pastoring, but just the idea of “pushing” brings back memories of how tiring pastoring was. As I look back now, I see that so much of what I did was out of people expectations of the pastor. The expectations of the members and also the church board.

    ANother reminde is that I absolutely hate John Maxwell’s books……..hate it hate it hate it! What a load of crap. The church I was in subscribed so much to his nonsense. I get it that leadership is important but he takes it too far. No value is given to anyone else apart from leaders. What about the other members?

    I tried in the 3 years I was pastoring full time to help nurture a community that is Spirit led and where relationships are key. But it took too much put of me. The church board said that it was what they wanted, but when push come to shove., they still lived by rules of organization. The organization of chuch, and rules were more important than people and relationships. They kept saying that relationships were important, but it was only as a means to an end for church programs.

    However, there were some people who caught it and even as I have stepped aside from leadership, I hope that they can continue to pursue a new expression of church.

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