Michael Horton has an excellent article about how pervasively culture has influenced the way that we structure church, the expectations we have for pastors, and how we seek to engage this broken world in light of these the influence of humanistic secularism on our way of thinking and life. There really is far too much in this article that is insightful so I encourage you to read it in its entirety. Here are a few excerpts:

Regarding Pastoral Expectations:

It used to be that the pastor had an office and worked in his study, but today the pastor has a job and works in his office. Whereas Peter organized the diaconal office so that the apostles could devote themselves to the Word and to prayer, ideal ministers seem increasingly to be managers, therapists, entertainers, and entrepreneurial businesspeople.

Open up the average issue of Christianity Today to advertisements for pastoral positions and you’ll find descriptions like “team builder,” “warm and personal style,” “outgoing,” “contagious personality,” and “effective communicator.” (Catholic friends tell me that something like this affects Catholicism, too.)

I think they’re looking for a Director of Sales and Marketing, whom they may (or may not) call “Pastor.” I’m not against directors of sales and marketing; I just don’t think that this is what we should be looking for in the way of shepherds.

Measuring the Christian Experience in “Traditional” and “Contemporary” Terms:

in my experience at least, Evangelicals tend to question the authenticity of Christian experience (individually or corporately) unless it is expressed in terms of an immediate, deeply personal, individual, inward, spontaneous, and ever-new relationship that can also be discerned in the entrepreneurial, innovative, spontaneous creativity of “worship experiences.”

To what extent are the values…simply expressions of an American personality that easily drifts, in the sphere of faith and practice, toward gnosticism?

How Scripture Calls Us To A Different Orientation For Ministry Than The Marketplace:

Both traditionalists and anti-traditionalists often reflect a human-centered, merely horizontal orientation. Ministry is focused either on keeping the generations together, closely bound in a fellowship across time, or on outreach.

Both forget that the public ministry of Word and sacrament is first and foremost a vertical, eschatological event of the Spirit’s disrupting grace that generates a horizontal extension of covenant succession in history while also drawing in outsiders by that same ministry. It is first of all God’s work, not ours, whether we’re thinking in traditional or innovative categories.

Christ is serving us, building his kingdom, drawing people by his Spirit from the dominion of sin and death, leading them in ever-richer understanding of the gospel, extending that message and acts of love outward to the neighbor. The Triune God is the one creating a new world in the midst of this fading evil age, not simply keeping the old one going or dressing it up in perpetual innovation.

A host of passages exhort believers to patient and mutual submission, progressive maturity and unity in the Word, and a community that is disciplined in its worship, life, and doctrine. There are clear instructions on the examination and ordination of a formal ministry that is entrusted with authority subordinate to Christ, with commands to “guard what has been entrusted to you,” going on from the milk of the Word to solid food, and so forth. There are no equivalent injunctions or instructions for small groups, para-church ministries, crusades, marches, revivals, or other movements that celebrate the extraordinary, spontaneous, restless, expressive immediacy that Americans relish, whether in church or on daytime talk shows.

Just as traditionalism is a parody of a living tradition, a ministry defined by the entrepreneurial, creative, and innovative capacities of today’s “super-apostles” should not be mistaken for genuine growth and outreach. Marking the remarkable missionary advances of the apostles, we meet repeatedly in the Book of Acts the phrase, “the word of God spread.”

Mission was about Christ as he is delivered to sinners through the gospel, not about us and our frantic efforts to make a sale. In fact, that is the last clause in Peter’s invitation: “The promise is for you and your children, and for those who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to himself .” The church is not called to mimic the world, but to feed the world the Bread of Life and incorporate strangers and aliens into the story of his redeeming work.

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