Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Filling In The Blanks

The administrative tasks of pastoral ministry are seemingly endless. When serving a large congregation there are always secretaries to take care of filling in the blanks so that all we need do is add the "official" signature and everyone is happy. This isn't true in the smaller congregations. There has always been a lot of satisfaction to be found in sifting the records of a church under my guidance. Some denominations require a certificate like this for their transfer of membership records. How many years pass before we no longer hold on to these records and guard them faithfully for those who will continue in our absence? I know, these days everything is done with the aid of a 'puter. That's a good thing in a way, and a bad one in another. Have we lost touch with the roots of our "Body of Christ" the same way we have lost "touch" with the old ways of doing things? I suppose we have, but I would like it to not be thus. What may be occurring across the board in our churches is a depersonalization of the connections which give us our rich history in so many valuable ways. After all, that is a large part of what the church is about, remembering, and making those remembrances pertinent to the lives we live in the 21st century. Even in our worship much of what we are about is the practice of remembering what we have been taught, and attempting to hold it so sacred that we allow no depersonalization of the message and the gift it holds for those with eyes to see and ears to hear. Much emphasis has always been placed on the "how" of worship, and it is a subject that there are more opinions on than we have denominations in our world. It has been that way from the very beginning of the 1st century. I really enjoy a heated debate with my brothers over the nuts and bolts of worship. And here comes the clinker, inside every denomination there are subcategories that make distinguishing one church from another very easy for the visitor. They may have the same name on the outside of the building, but inside it is nothing like the church of that same name fifty miles down the road. It doesn't even have to be that far, but out here on the Great American Desert things are spread out a bit more than some parts of the world. The important thing for the individual to find is a place, a worshiping Body of Christ, that they feel meets their needs where they are in their faith journey! Not all of us enjoy the same foods, and this is true of our spiritual natures, as well. Recently I spoke with one of my old colleagues who is now serving a "high" church environment. All I can say is that if God is using someone, truly using them, they will be filling out those records of Baptism somewhere along the line, and actively involved in the lives of the people. Personally, I'm sort of like a team player. I think we're all on the same team serving God no matter what the position we play, even if we're only there to "fill in the blanks" for someone else. In Christ's Love, Preacher.

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