I’m a pastor. That means many things to many people. There are many varying expectations about what it means to be a pastor and what a pastor does.
I’m not going to list all the things that I do as a pastor. But I will say this – there is one underlying thing that is the foundation for everything that I do. It is the summation of my job description.
My job is to make disciples.
Everything relates to this. My job isn’t to entertain. It’s not to do the ministry on behalf of everyone in the church. My job isn’t to save the institution. It’s not to keep people comfortable in their thoughts and beliefs.
My primary job is to make disciples.
And guess what – that’s your job too.
How I go about it may look different from your way. But both of us together have the same job – to make disciples. Jesus said so in Matthew 28. It’s the great commission.
I can’t emphasize this enough. My job is not to save the institution. Here’s why. If our focus is on saving an institution, then really we aren’t doing what we are supposed to. Plus, when we focus on saving the institution, what we really focus on is maintaining the status quo – maintaining things as they are. An institution exists for it’s own survival too often. But it certainly doesn’t have to.
If, instead, we focused on doing our job – making more disciples – you know what happens? The institution doesn’t get caught up in the argument over what is off limits and how much change it will allow. When the focus is on our purpose of having an institution, then the institution willingly adapts and changes to meet the needs. It transforms in order to support the movement and purpose. In other words, it thrives. And it is healthier as a result.
When we focus on trying to save something, it’s usually a sure sign that it won’t last because our focus is on the wrong thing. The reason for there being an institution is far more important than the institution itself.
For those of you who care about saving the institution of the church hear this – your best bet is change focus. To let go of trying to save the church and instead focus on living out the mission of the church. It is in being the church and carrying out the mission of the church that the institution of the church will survive and thrive. It will look different, no doubt. But the important thing is that the institution will have found it’s appropriate place in the life of faith – supporting the work of the mission of God.