What happens when all this happens in a small village in the smallest nation in Central America? With almost no government resources? Without insurance and a hospital nearby or a car to visit it? What happens then?
The Church happens.
We drove and drove today to Santa Maria Ostuma, a small village where Compassion International cares for about 200 children through one Compassion project.I wish Compassion International didn’t use the word “project” so often. I prefer the word “church.” Every Compassion project around the world is a local church. Compassion ministers to children and their families through churches because churches know and are trusted by their neighbors, they’re everywhere, and only churches – only Jesus – can meet both physical and spiritual needs. Compassion is about equipping churches to do just that.
HT: Shaun Groves
For a long time, I have been convinced that I could take a person with a high school education, give him or her a six-month trade school training, and provide a pastor who would be satisfactory to any discriminating American congregation. The curriculum would consist of four courses.
Course I: Creative Plagiarism. I would put you in touch with a wide range of excellent and inspirational talks, show you how to alter them just enough to obscure their origins, and get you a reputation for wit and wisdom. Course II: Voice Control for Prayer and Counseling. We would develop your own distinct style of Holy Joe intonation, acquiring the skill in resonance and modulation that conveys and unmistakable aura of sanctity.
Course III: Efficient Office Management. There is nothing that parishioners admire more in their pastors than the capacity to run a tight ship administratively. If we return all phone calls within twenty-four hours, answer all the letters within a week, distributing enough carbons to key people so that they know we are on top of things, and have just the right amount of clutter on our desk—not too much, or we appear inefficient, not too little or we appear underemployed—we quickly get the reputation for efficiency that is far more important than anything that we actually do.
Course IV: Image Projection. Here we would master the half-dozen well-known and easily implemented devices that that create the impression that we are terrifically busy and widely sought after for counsel by influential people in the community. A one-week refresher course each year would introduce new phrases that would convince our parishioners that we are bold innovators on the cutting edge of the megatrends and at the same time solidly rooted in all the traditional values of our sainted ancestors.
(I have been laughing for several years over this trade school training with which I plan to make my fortune. Recently, though, the joke has backfired on me. I keep seeing advertisements for institutes and workshops all over the country that invite pastors to sign up for this exact curriculum. The advertised course offerings are not quite as honestly labeled as mine, but the content appears to be identical—a curriculum that trains pastors to satisfy the current consumer tastes in religion. I’m not laughing anymore.)
Eugene Peterson, Working the Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity, pp. 7-8 (as quoted by Matt Chandler in his SBTS chapel address)
HT: Justin Taylor
In Case You Missed It
Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:
The Seed of the Woman and the Seed of the Serpent: Succumbing, continuing the representation of George Whitefield’s classic sermon
Worshipping with the Preached Word, reflecting on how our pastor’s preaching affects our worship
They have Jesus. And He is everything, a collection of a few notable moments from this week’s Compassion Bloggers tour in El Salvador
What’s the One Thing, thinking about the cost of obedience