Getting Real About Ministry

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 ( 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.


Earth Hour and Jesus

Last night, thousands of households across Canada participated in “Earth Hour” – a World Wildlife Fund-sponsored event encouraging businesses, governments, and ordinary citizens to promote conservation by darkening their homes and businesses between 8 and 9 p.m. local time.

There was a fair bit of hubbub about Earth Hour online – most of it, one assumes, before 8 and after 9, since their modems and routers, if not their computers, required electricity they were reluctant to use!

As I was preparing for worship this morning, I considered the enthusiasm that existed for Earth Hour.  Many Christ-followers participated.  Even the large, illuminated cross on Mount Royal – a Montreal landmark – was dimmed.  But it left me wondering:  do we have the same enthusiasm for sharing Jesus?

In the congregation where I spoke this morning, reflecting on Luke 24.33-35, I asked how many people had participated in Earth Hour last night.  Nearly every hand went up.  Then I asked:  how many of you shared Jesus with somebody yesterday?  Only a few hands were raised.

Christ-followers have a responsibility – indeed, I would argue, more of a responsibility than others – to take care of the earth, because the earth is the Lord’s (Psalm 24.1).  However, when Christians put all their effort into that which will fade instead of investing in the eternal destinies of others, we miss the mark.

If only sharing our faith would somehow become trendy!  Yet it is of such a substantive nature that it ought never to be reduced to trendiness:  sharing our faith can and should be a lifestyle choice.  Nobody else is going to do it for us.