Are We Shooting the Wounded or Acting in Love By Not Soon Restoring Fallen Leaders Back to Ministry?
Years ago it became popular to say, “The church is the only army that shoots their wounded.” Now, if this were an appeal to stop telling people they are ungodly because they struggle with depression and fear and suicidal thoughts, and face difficult marriages and abuse and mental and chemical imbalances, it would be called for. It would be a very valid criticism and a call to express God’s grace and kindness, and to understand and emphasize with hurt, struggling, and wounded people.
As a pastor in Mississippi, I’ve learned that gratitude is shown through reciprocation. If a neighbor leaves a bag of fresh tomatoes from his garden, it’s not enough to simply walk next door and thank him for his kind gift. Saying thank you is only half of the equation. Gratitude isn’t complete until the deed is reciprocated. So, if your neighbor drops off a bag of tomatoes, you’re not grateful until you’ve returned the favor.
These are extremely important questions.
Do you know what my predominant emotion was in the midst of all of this? Anger. At an infant. I threw pillows in the middle of the night and yelled at my husband and said not-so-kind words. To my infant. Now, I’m sure that hormones and sleep deprivation played a role in my response, but more than anything I was upset because I had faithfully followed A and B and I wasn’t getting C. I deserved a child who would cooperate. All the books told me he would if I did my part, and I did my part. I was worshiping at the altars of control, success, convenience, and let’s just say it—reputation. But my son refused to bow down. And I was furious.
Trevin Wax offers an answer to the question, “When does a current cultural event necessitate a change of plans in your Sunday morning church service?”
In light of the current cultural climate, I’m convinced another emphasis is needed—pastor as apologist. Just as pastors need to be equipped theologically to lead their people from God’s Word, they also need to be equipped apologetically.
Done in the right way, apologetics can be a valuable tool for pastors leading their people. Here are three ways apologetics can serve church leaders.
A favorite from the archives, reflecting on an important moment for our church back in London:
This church has had a different sort of history with facilities. Where our first had owned a building for decades, our new one had only experienced life as “renters.” Every single week, we would put on “church in a box.” Faithful volunteers would come out to set up, tear down, and make it look like we were never there in the first place while all the material stuff of “church” was locked away in a storage room. When we joined, we were on the church’s second location,1 a high school on the northwest side of London. About two months after we joined, the announcement came that we were moving up the street about a mile in order to allow more space for the people who’d started attending. And so, we found ourselves back at the same high school we’d left a few months prior.
And there we stayed for the next six years.