I’m seeing a new trend at services of ordination and induction for pastors: reality checks.
Tonight, I attended the ordination of a minister in the Presbytery (regional judicatory body) in which I serve, at Guildwood Community Presbyterian Church (www.guildwoodchurch.com) in Scarborough. Both the sermon and the charge were exemplary in both their theological soundness and what I called their “embarrassing frankness”. By that I meant that both the minister preaching and the one giving the charge were not afraid to say to both congregation and ordinand that ministry nowadays is not always pretty.
I’m not sure ministry ever was pretty – not even in Green Gables. But I can say, from a measure of experience, that it wasn’t always as challenging as it is today. And clergy appear to be realizing this more and more frequently.
I’m sure there are some pastors for whom ministry remains relatively stress-free. I’m fairly sure those pastors are superintending dying efforts. Why? Because growth does not come without change, and change does not happen without conflict. And conflict of any sort is, by nature, a stressor.
So I’m strangely excited that pastors are willing to acknowledge the reality that ministry is tough, because that means they’re attempting to bring, and foster, positive (we hope) change. The future of the church, by God’s grace, relies on its leaders being willing to Lay It All On The Line to draw people into a life of discipleship. And that’s not always comfortable.