I've been struggling with a couple of concepts for the past year or so. They have to do with the role of the church, a pastor, and individual Christians in their communities.
I have been a Southern Baptist since before I was born. I've always attended SB churches. I have observed quite a few pastors, SB and others, who spend most, if not all, their time in the church office, dealing with church people. Very few have been involved in community life (that I have observed). Now, I am a pastor - for the grand total of a little more than a year and a half.
Most churches of which I have been a part, have not been involved in community activities, other than "outreach" programs. I have been involved with the very infrequent Youth activities - Mission trips, helping at the local Food Banks, etc. Most times, the attitude of the church has been "Y'all come, we'll help fix you up!"
Most Christians that I have been around are committed to attending weekend worship service(s). Most desire to live their lives based on Biblical principles. Most are not involved in their communities in a significant way.
I've read several books in the past year that present a very differnt outlook on the role of Christians - churches, pastors, and individuals. One asked the question - "If you were to die or move away, would the community care?" Others presented statistics indicating that the number of professing Christians in each generation in the U.S. decreased by about 1/2 the total percentage of the previous generation, to the point that the most recent generation professes to be around 10% Christian. It's pretty obvious that churches, pastors, and individual Christians need to approach life very differently now than we have in the past.
I mentioned here about a Conference I recently attended. I sat with a good friend of mine (Pat), who is also a pastor, who had been asked by his son's track coach to become a coach on the track team. He had been trying to figure out what he should do. I had been asked by one of our church members, who works at our local school district, if I would be interested in driving a bus for the schools. I have the basic license that would allow me to do drive a school bus (although I need some more specific training - an "S" endorsement).
During the conference, Reggie McNeal called attention to the concept that God is looking at history from the end, not the beginning. We have the talents, tools, etc, right now in order to do what He wants because of what He has caused us to go through in the past. I'm not sure Pat or I wanted to hear it, because both of us afterwards commented that looking at the situation from that viewpoint made our decisions a little more clear.
I talked with the Superintendent of Schools, a fellow Rotarian last week about the possibility of being a substitute bus driver. Before the conversation was over, we discussed the possibility of being a substitute teacher in the school system. I have more degrees than sense anyway, so why not?
I started the Bus Driving School last night. It should last 4 nights, then will have to go through additional training by the School District once the background checks are completed. My Substitute Teacher certification will be submitted to the State Dept of Education after the background checks also.
Does that mean that some things at church will change? Probably. How will church members respond? I have no idea. Doing this has nothing to do with money. The church pays a decent salary. One thing I miss by being a pastor is being around people who are not involved in church. I'm missing something by being around church people all the time, or spending most of my time in the office.
Will this solve the concerns I have with the roles of churches, a pastor, and individual Christians in their communities? Don't know for sure, but one thing is for sure - I am going to find out.