My preacher friend dropped down beside me in the pew. The first session of our annual state convention was about to get underway. “What did you do today?” I asked. He smiled. “I’ve spent the day at the pastors’ conference at the seminary.”
“How was it?”
“Great. They had some terrific speakers.”
“How was the attendance?”
“Good actually,” he said, and named two or three mutual friends he had bumped into.
I looked around and said, “I don’t see them here tonight.”
He said, “They won’t be here. I told them I was heading out to the first session of the convention and asked if they were going. One rolled his eyes and said, ‘Boring!'”
That conversation took place some time ago and I’ve thought about it a lot. It bugs me for several reasons.
One: I wonder if any of that pastor’s church members have ever avoided any of his sermons for the same reason. I doubt he would appreciate their applying the same standard to his messages he applied to the convention session.
Two: I wonder if he realizes what a disservice he is doing to his church members. They dutifully give their offerings on Sundays with the understanding that a good portion will end up in the state convention and go on to Baptist work throughout the country and around the world.
I’m confident that they expect their leaders to follow up to make sure their investment is well placed and that the Lord’s work they are supporting is being done responsibly. The pastor in question is shirking his duty to his congregation.
Three: I wonder why pastors with the spiritual maturity sufficient to lead a church and preach great sermons aren’t mature enough to sit through a “dry” report from an agency head.
I, for one, want to know about our state convention work. In fact, I would like to hear from as many LBC leaders as possible.
Recently on a Sunday afternoon, I sat in a fellowship hall in an effort to assist the leaders of a church in finding its way for the future. Their pastor had resigned that morning. For an hour I listened to the comments being tossed around, and found myself growing frustrated at the failures of this church’s previous pastors.
One member thought I was with the seminary. Another indicated he did not have a clue about what the association is or what it does. Another wondered what right I had even to be sitting in the meeting. And yet, this church dutifully sends its check to our associational office every month.
The problem is that during the 18 years I’ve been in the New Orleans area, only one of the aforementioned church’s three pastors ever attended a pastors’ conference or the regular meetings of the associational executive committee. No wonder their members are ignorant of the association; their pastors are to blame.
When a pastor encourages his people to contribute to the work of the denomination through the association and state convention and then never attends a session to learn what’s being done or to make sure the money is well-invested, he is failing his people.
When the pastor never informs his people they are part of a network of other Baptist churches in a local association and of the state Convention, he is failing his people.
When the pastor goes it alone and never gets to know the other shepherds leading congregations in his area—Baptist and otherwise—he is failing his people.