21 April, 2017
OK, I've been preaching since 1981, pastored my first church in 1986 (interim pastor) and been a full-time pastor since 1991... so you'd think that by now I'd have this thing figured out. Hardly. The more I learn the more I discover how much I don't know. To be honest, pastoring in 2017 is nothing like it was in 1993. The world has changed. People have changed. With the increase of technology and especially the Internet, pastoring took an abrupt change of direction. Things I did back then are almost non-existent today. In 1994 when I got my first cell phone, none of us had a clue where that technology was taking us. Who would have dreamed that one day we'd set our cell phone up in the sanctuary and live stream our services around the world in real time and be able to communicate with people watching in Pakistan and the Philippines instantly? Or that a small church in a town of 800 people would literally touch people around the world? It's crazy mindboggling... and it is changing us even more rapidly. The frustrating thing that I'm learning is that with these changes which enable us to reach people around the world (as well as those who are shut in locally and cannot make it to church) come more excuses for people to stay home from the physical church and disconnect. As we live stream and record the services to be viewed later, already people are learning that the can stay home, sleep in on Sunday morning and watch the service at their leisure from the comfort of their home. Attendance drops, as does giving to the church and I'm learning that even though the church is reaching hundreds of viewers and listeners to our podcast, the church is having to make cutbacks in order to survive. One of the things I'm learning in 2017 is that fewer and fewer people are committed to the church and to supporting the work of the church financially. I wonder sometimes if they think that God just supernaturally puts money in our bank account to pay the utilities, mortgage, and insurance? I guess what I'm really learning is that people no longer really care about their church like they used to. It seems like as long as their needs are met, that is all that matters and if once church shutters its windows and closes the doors... there will always be another. I'm learning that pastoring in 2017 is a whole new challege. I have to wonder what tomorrow hold?