Readers may not know–indeed, in 950 posts I’m not sure if I have mentioned it–but I am an ordained minister. I trained for ministry at Maritime Christian College (MCC), and served in various ways over the next few years. About 15 years ago, I began translating that vocation into an academic field. I’m still trying to work that out today.
Part of that development in my vocation is having landed in a local church in Prince Edward Island, Cornwall Christian Church. Our church is not big, but it is small. One of the reasons that it has remained small is that it has a history of sending ministers out over the last decade or so. Cornwall Church has been a refuge for many pastors, ministers, seminary professors, and missionaries in transition–as well as a safe space for those who are looking for a home church for their parachurch ministry. Our church has also been a place for young leaders to test their mettle, and a place of recovery for a number of servants of the church who have been wounded and need a place to heal.
Though far from perfect, our church has a unique history and a unique ministry. Moreover, my years in professional church ministry has given me the ability to understand what church leaders experience in their lives. These two factors combined allowed me to speak specifically to the weight that pastors and church leaders carry. I took for my text the passage in 2 Corinthians where Paul is boasting of his struggles. Beyond shipwrecks and persecution and illness, Paul names what is the greatest weight of being a pastor to his people:
And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches (2 Cor 11:28, ESV).
This sermon for Pastor Appreciation Month is, then, a somewhat dangerous sermon. I open up the heart of my experiences so that church people can see the struggles that pastors go through–and the impossibilities that we have set up for them. It is a sermon that active paid pastors can’t preach in their home churches, but I can preach it because I have nothing to gain–or nothing to lose. And it is a sermon that I could only give at this generous, flawed little church in Cornwall, who will hear it in the right spirit and then seek to encourage people with it.
So, hesitantly, I share it with you. There are some tech issues, but they are okay. It is a very local sermon, but I think those who need to hear this sermon can appreciate that. And the sermon relates my negative experiences in churches, leaving out much of the positive. I hope that those who have shaped me in my various churches know how much I love them. But I share this sermon because people need to know what their priests, ministry leaders, pastors, missionaries, and elders experience.
I also share it because I believe that the church (in North America, at least) has some need of responsibility and repentance. If I am right, it is not something we dare put off.
Note: If the embedded link does not play, click here.