It is becoming clear that God is calling my wife and me to be the lead pastors of The Core Fellowship. Matt & Melissa Stephens, the couple whom we had all felt was going to fill that position, have felt the call of God to move away to attend seminary. We at The Core were very sad to hear this, but God accompanies his real calling with real peace, and that is what we have felt.
As I have expressed to a few friends recently, I am moving into this calling eagerly, but with fear and trembling. But there is a problem… I am the kind of sinner that can go for long periods without recognizing his own sinfulness.
A camel may travel for hundreds of miles without drinking, and come to believe that he doesn’t need water at all. The reality is that the camel is drinking constantly, drawing upon the vast reserves carried within his body. And when that water is eventually depleted, it must be renewed.
I do not claim to have any vast reserves of righteousness. But the struggles of some are worn outwardly, and the struggles of others are less apparent. I belong to the latter group, and thus I can fool myself into thinking I’m a pretty good Christian most of the time.
But this week I was shaken out of that attitude, and reminded why I must approach a pastoral calling with fear and trembling.
Apparently it is the modus operandi of James River Assembly to never respond in kind when they feel attacked. Rather, they pray for the antagonist and all those who read or hear their words. I believe this is the reason why there were no commenters on my blog willing to stick up for James River. Instead of commenting, they were praying. I am severely humbled by this.
There is no doubt in my mind that God has given me a message. I look at the Church At Large and see the clergy burnt-out, the laity unengaged, and the observant public jaded against the whole institution. Some things have got to change. But I will not accuse James River of being the representative of this problem. They are simply an easy target, and I am ashamed of having taken advantage of that. I want to shake up and challenge anyone who leads the church astray, but I also want to apologize to those who were offended by my unfair singling out of James River Assembly.
I hope this experience stands as a milestone at the beginning of my life as a pastor. I hope I can always look back at this and remember that specific grievances should be brought with grace directly to the offending party, not published for the world, and general grievances should remain just that: general.
Father help us all to remember to speak the truth in love.