I remember a wise mentor repeatedly reminding me of the need for leaders to have clarity of purpose and mission. One of his favorite phrases still rings in my ears. “If there is a mist in the pulpit, there will be a fog in the pew.” Good advice for sure, but what happens when there is fog in the pulpit?
A few years into my pastoral ministry, I was forced to confront this compelling question. In spite of my pastoral diligence, packed schedule, and the best of intentions, there was a dense fog in my pulpit. I faced an inconvenient truth. I had been committing pastoral malpractice. I had spent the minority of my time equipping my congregation for what they had been called by God to do the majority of their lives. Rather than narrowing the Sunday to Monday gap that many in my congregation were experiencing, I had actually been helping it widen. My impoverished theological vision was impairing our congregation’s spiritual formation, our contribution to the common good, and our local church’s gospel mission.
Pastoral repentance was in order. I am most grateful for Christ Community Church, a gracious congregation that was ready to forgive my failings and move forward, guided by a more robust theology of vocation. In Christian Mission in the Modern World, John Stott concluded that, “We must begin with vocation.” But what does this mean? I believe it means that we must see the entire biblical text as a coherent narrative of creation, fall, redemption, and consummation, revealing God’s design and desire for human flourishing. I also believe we must regain the transforming truth that the gospel speaks to every aspect of human existence, calling us to discipleship in all areas of life.
Scripture tells us that, as image bearers, we have been created by a working God – with work in mind. That means, in part, that we have been created with community and collaboration in mind; work is not an isolated activity, but an interdependent one. We presently live in a broken and fallen world where our work is not what it ought to be. The good news is that, through the redemptive work of Jesus, the work we do and the workplaces we inhabit are profoundly changed by the gospel.
For those of us who have been called to the pastoral vocation, the implications of a more robust theology of vocation and …discipleship reshape not only our thinking, but also our pastoral priorities and practices. Our reading diet will adjust to help us better understand the Monday world of our congregation. A pastoral visit to the workplace of a congregation member will become as common as a visit to the hospital. Our preaching will look and sound differently. Our discipleship and spiritual formation pathways will change. With agrowing understanding of the church’s mission in the world, we will enthusiastically embrace our congregation’s everyday work life. We will grasp with new conviction and passion that economic flourishing matters and that a primary work of the church is the church at work. Empowered and guided by the Holy Spirit, the local church we serve will be more faithful to Christ and more effective in furthering the common good.
This is why my heart leaps with joy that you are carving out time to read and reflect on what pastors across the country are doing to help their people connect Sunday to Monday.
I am most grateful for the many opportunities to roll up my sleeves and serve the Made to Flourish pastor’s network. I pray that this book will inform your mind, strengthen your pastoral practice, enliven your worship experience, stir your heart, and ultimately shape the congregations and cities you serve. May our churches be all Jesus desires them to be, and may we who have been called to the pastoral vocation one day hear: “Well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Master.”