A Charge to Shepherds in the Post-Christian Age

Most churches only have one way by which the gospel is proclaimed; and that is in the lecture/sermon format from the pulpit…and that’s about it. It is a one-way approach that does not allow for dialogue from the pews. It’s an authoritative method that assumes either quiet obedience or vocal agreement, without question.

Some ministers take advantage of this one-way style of learning, and become lazy in their own learning; offering weak sermons full of personal stories and jokes instead of wisdom from the Word. And then when people in the pews leave, some of us are too quick to accuse them of having “itching ears” as 2 Timothy 4:3,4 states,

“For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths.

Well, maybe it’s because we’ve been the ones spewing out myths with our personal stories and cutesy analogies instead of serving a robust meal that is the Word of God. If people have left, do we know where or what they’ve gone to? If we’ve been weak in the pulpit, have we at least been bold enough to go out into the world to shepherd their souls? Or have we left the flock out in the cold; hungry and malnourished?

2 Timothy 4:5 states,

“As for you, always be sober, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, carry out your ministry fully.”

The key word for this type of work is “suffering”. It can be an uncomfortable work. Some of us are hiding behind the pulpit and behind our desks at the church office; afraid to get out there as our Lord did and feed the multitude outside the walls of our institutions.

While those of us in ministry are not necessarily miracle workers; and I know from personal experience, that many of us are tired to the point of exhaustion, with a side of depression-God please strengthen us. While we don’t have all the answers, we need not be afraid to dialogue with the world.

This isn’t suggesting that we throw out Sunday morning worship or step down from leadership. This is about something much more crucial; the saving of souls. While church attendance is in decline and less people are present to even hear a sermon, we need to move from behind our church walls to dialogue with those on the outside, in order to keep God before the people. It is not enough to just invite them to church. Instead of us waiting for people come inside the church, we must venture out and be true fishers of men.

After all, the Lord states in Isaiah 1:18

“Come now, let us argue it out,
    says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
    they shall be like snow;
though they are red like crimson,
    they shall become like wool.

The Lord is not afraid of our questions, our arguments, our honest pleas, or our inability to grasps something because of A, B, or C, etc… If the Lord is mighty enough to suggest dialogue, then certainly in this hour, the Lord has equipped his bride to go out among the people with boldness and face the discussions and questions of this world.

Let’s get out there!

To God be the Glory and the Majesty. Amen.

The Rev. Nicole Foster

The Rev. Dr. Nicole Foster the T.V. Host and founding minister of The Hippie Theologian. She holds a Doctor of Ministry from Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry, a Master of Divinity from Redeemer Theological Seminary and a B.A. in History from Southern Methodist University. She’s an ordained Anglican minister and teaches Old Testament for various organizations. She loves to hike, camp, make organic soap, and be a beach bum as often as possible.

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