The REAL Gospel is MISSION-VocationalWednesday, March 17, 2010
Vocational ministry has been one of the greatest sore spots for me personally for years. I believe without a shadow of a doubt I am called by God to preach and lead a church. Why? Because while I've believed that since sixteen years old, I've attempted to work in the business world in various capacities and roles and found a leading of God back into local and global church leadership.
Yet what I think is so interesting is that it was within the confines and spheres of my vocational work outside the church that I saw my greatest impact on the world. Take my work right now as a business consultant, for example. I'm nearing the end of four years with the company I work for now...and I'm nearing another season of full-time vocational work in local church ministry. In that time period I've had a far greater impact on people's lives than I EVER did as a local church full-time pastor. Why?
Because when you're a pastor in America, you're basically an administrator who gets to talk an hour or two each week about something really important called the Bible. I studied about 20-30 hours a week to get the text right, and treated the message I was about to preach that coming Sunday as if it was the most important thing my people would hear all week long. And then those poor saps would have to wait another whole week to hear the next most important thing in their lives!
There was such an overemphasis in my mind about vocational ministry that I believe it was a detriment to me for many years. I so highly valued that calling that everything else I did in life was just a means to an end. All the jobs I worked were a means of getting me to the place where I could finally preach and lead a church. The only problem was that when I got there, I had no flipping idea what I was doing. And that was because I did not have the very missional-focus that a biblical, local church is supposed to have in its DNA. And that was because it wasn't in my DNA.
Today, after four years as a business consultant with much fruit to show for it, I no longer counsel or encourage men with their visions of "full-time Christian ministry." If God has called you to preach, then by all means do it. But don't mistake a desire to talk about Jesus with a calling to lead a local church. Jesus calls few to Himself as disciples. He calls even fewer as leaders. The majority of the people He saves are to be a light in the world where they work. And full-time pastors in America seem to only be a light to the already-lit on Sunday mornings.
The good news is supposed to go out, and not stay inside...in the walls of the church...on Sunday mornings...and Wednesday nights. And those who take it out are the everyday, ordinary, average, run-of-the-mill Christians who are so radically in-love with Jesus Christ that they radically commit their lives to transforming their work places for Jesus. And the pastor's job, then, is to motivate, educate, and send out those everyday Christians to do just that. His job is to keep the focus of his people on being missional, where they are right now. His job is not to administrate and organize stuff to do that seems or appears or feels like ministry that really has little or nothing to do with the mission.
Pastor and people are a missional team focused on absorbing people in their workplaces into the kingdom, because that's where the mission starts and expands. It doesn't really start when you become a missionary (the 1st class citizens of the kingdom of heaven), or a pastor (the 2nd class citizens), or a seminary or bible college professor (the 3rd class), or worse yet an ordinary "lay" person (clearly, a 4th class citizen). The mission really starts when you deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus at work! Where you are right now!
The root system of the real gospel is continuing to grow. It's choking out the old system. Can you feel it?