Your Church Is You
What final comments will I make as Interim Senior Pastor?, I asked myself recently. For 14 months I have been serving a mid-sized congregation in western Nebraska, and I discovered over the course of that time that I was coming to care for and love a group of people I knew I would be leaving at the end of this summer. I didn't plan on feeling this way. But it happened.
And along the way I also have come to believe that all ministry is "interim ministry." None of us stays forever! You could say that about life as well.
So, I shared the following charge to this congregation of Christians I came to love. I've had this statement "Your Church Is You" with me for several years now, and I don't remember where it came from. So here goes....
"You are a walking advertisement of your church and the Christ whom it proclaims. You take the church out of its four walls, and make it live in the everyday affairs of life. In fact, what people think of your church, they think of you.
Some have the idea that the pastor is the church. It is true that the pastor often speaks for the church, declares what it stands for, and invites people into its fellowship. It is the pastor's job to know the church's business and to act on its behalf. The pastor is your representative, but certainly not your substitute.
The preaching in the pulpit is fruitless unless it is reflected in the lives of members of the congregation. Classroom teaching is ineffective unless it comes to life in the attitude and behavior of people. Your church is measured not so much by what its leaders say as by what you do. You are the means by which the good life advocated by the church is communicated to people.
Your church professes a concern for people; you express that concern in the way you act toward others. Your church tries to build up a Christian world; you validate these attempts by your community. Your church claims to have a gospel that will make people new, opening to them a fuller life; you are the demonstration of that claim.
Your daily acts as a Christian preach more sermons, teach more people, and save more lives that the words that are spoken inside the four walls of your church building. You are a cell of the living church. Without you, the church has no life."