14
Jan
09

The Parable of the Ministers

        The Kingdom of Heaven will look something like this. The bishop of an unnamed denomination called in two new probationer ministers to make appointments to two churches based, of course, on the gifts and graces he perceived in each candidate. After interviewing the two probationers, the bishop appointed the first to a suburban church with over five hundred members and a brand new, spectacular building. The second was appointed to an inner city mission church with less than a hundred members and a somewhat dilapidated building located in a blighted neighborhood. The bishop, of course, disappeared from view until it was time for the next round of appointments.

       Three years later the bishop called the two probationers in for a meeting. The bishop first called in the minister that had been sent to the mission church.
       “I’ve done some checking on your progress, Ann” said the bishop, “but why don’t you tell me how you think things have gone.”
       Ann told the bishop that she knew her District Superintendent hasn’t been particularly happy, but that things had gone as well or better than she expected. She told him about their efforts to feed more people in the soup kitchen than in previous years, and how the mission had helped set up a homeless shelter by working with two other churches in the neighborhood. Ann also explained how several bible studies had been started for the discipleship of not only the members, but also some of the people in the community who had met the church members as they were out ministering. She did admit, however, that even though attendance was up, membership had actually dropped due to deaths.
       “Even though we’ve set up quite extensive classes for membership, only a few of the new attendees are on their way to becoming members. But even then we probably won’t be able to pay our apportionments. It’s just that the people in the neighborhood are so poor.”
       “Well done,” exclaimed the bishop, “you’re a good minister. I understand from some of your members that you have even been having dialogue sessions about some of the difficult issues the church faces. After ordination you’ll be in line for a church that gives you a little more to work with. Bye the way, call me Bob.”
       The next minister, John, came in and began to tell the bishop about the amazing new programs he had begun – dinner clubs, stewardship programs, monthly congregational dinners, tole painting classes, movie nights – and also about the new library and office wing that had been added to the building.
       “Yes, yes, wonderful ideas,” said the bishop, “but what about ministry?”
       “Well, Bob,” replied John, feeling very confident since the D.S. had been patting him on the back so much, “membership has doubled and we even added a little extra to our apportionments. The D.S. has been very pleased, especially since many of our newer members are professional people and quite well-to-do.”
       “That’s very nice,” said the bishop, “but I’ve been chatting with some of your members. It seems, John, that you have simply been preaching “comfort and joy”. They haven’t heard anything about discipleship, getting involved in the strife of the world, or dealing with injustice.”
       “I wanted to bring those things up,” replied the minister, “but they can be demanding, not to mention divisive. I was afraid that people would leave my church if we had specific requirements for joining or argued over other people’s issues. And besides, the D.S. agreed that we wouldn’t want to do anything that would hurt membership or giving.”
       “You know, John,” said the bishop, “ I think you need to remain on probation a while longer. I’m going to appoint you as Assistant Pastor to Ann, who I just talked with. See if you can learn something about real ministry from her. Oh, and by the way, don’t call me Bob – bishop will do just fine.”
       The bishop then called in the District Superintendent and fired him. The last anyone heard he was eating at the soup kitchen and living at the homeless shelter that Ann had helped set up.

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... or, preaching from both ends

WELL, HELLO! YOU’RE HERE.

That's too bad - I'm so sorry. Oh, well, just try to make the best of it. What you'll find here is a variety of essays and ramblings to do with things theological, social, whimsical and, sometimes, all three. I don't write to get famous - trust me, I've been told how futile that would be - but to express myself. I love to communicate and browbeat - ummm, I mean dialogue - about the things I find intriguing. Since you're here, and the door's locked, why don't you stay a while. There's a page bar under the header with links to information about us - I mean me. Don't forget to tell me what you think - in a nice way, I mean.

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