Fear or Faith-Based Ministry

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                      November 21, 2013

 

 

    In the group of pastoral colleagues that I meet with for a half-day each month I am always made to think by observations, personal statements, as well as humorous statements. Yesterday was our gathering for November and one of my dear colleagues, Mike Oldham, made a statement about ministries- both pastoral and congregational- that are fear-based, others that are fame-based, and a smaller percentage that are faith-based.

Although it was Mike’s thought it go me thinking about it more as the day went along.  “Fear-based ministry” develops out of a mindset of loss, perhaps even resigned to defeat. It is the church that operates out of a fear of losing people. In the marketplace it reminds me of businesses in communities where Walmart has announced they are coming to town. Over the past couple of decades there has been a number of businesses who just automatically throw in the towel over that developing situation. It’s resigned defeat. Many churches have a similar mindset. The basis for ministry originates out of a fear that people will leave and go somewhere else. In this time it seems that the church is having an identity crisis. We’re often not sure who we are, or what we’re about. The result is that we are often fearful of what we might become.

Pastors fear that being truthful will alienate them from their congregations. Alienate is a nice word for “getting fired.”

Congregations fear that they will grow older and not have younger generations to keep the ministry of the church alive. Sometimes they hire a youth pastor because they think that will solve the problem. Hiring a youth pastor does not solve the problem of fearing the loss of younger people.

A few congregations fear the loss of their pastor. (I stress “few!”) If the pastor leaves for another church, or gets disgusted with the people of the church who don’t bow to him, the congregation is afraid that the “pastor void” will cause chaos. Better to have a pastor who orders people around than not have a pastor that result in disorder. Bottom line! There are a few pastors who might be named Rev. Donald Trump!

Some congregations fear progress! It throws the whole familiar system out of whack. Better to keep things steady and the same than to change. Change creates fear. The motto of such a church is simple: “Fear change!”

It is hard, but so scriptural, for the church to be faith-based. Faith is feared many times. Even though Jesus mentions having faith…a whole lot…we fear it. Stepping out in faith is putting yourself out there. Most of us don’t like to put ourselves out there. We like to stay put.

The faith-based church does not mean it is huge in size. Being faith-based, in fact, has nothing to do with size. Size sometimes suffocates faith that otherwise would emerge. Faith-based is a little too fluid for most people. I mean, what will people think if we follow the leading of the Spirit half-way through a budget year and initiate a new ministry to the poor and disenfranchised?

Let’s be honest! We talk about faith, but we live by fear. It took faith for the Hebrew people to step into the mud path of the Red Sea, but it was fear that made them long for the glory days of slavery back in Egypt. It took faith for Peter to step out of the boat, but fear brought him back to his senses about the laws of nature.

It’s a constant struggle for the people of God to live by faith. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s easy. The bottle of snake oil would be right behind their back.

Each day I seek to be faithful…and each day I fall short.

But thanks be to God, he hasn’t given up on me yet!

Explore posts in the same categories: Bible, Christianity, Faith, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Pastor, Prayer, Story, The Church, Uncategorized

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One Comment on “Fear or Faith-Based Ministry”

  1. Gary Perrine Says:

    The Bible says we are to fear God. Failing to walk in His calling is not ministry. We all need to be ready and willing for WHATEVER ministry He calls us to. That is faith.


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