This past week I heard a great statement that has given me pause. It went something like this; "The problem with many ineffective churches is that we have selfish shepherds which leads to shallow services with the end result being starving sheep."
There is little doubt that we live in a culture that places self first with a huge desire to be comfortable and happy which unfortunatly leads to people seeking to fill the God sized void in their lives with everything and anything other than God.
As a pastor, I will be the first to admit that there are incredible pressures upon us. There is the pressure of knowing we will one day be held accountable by God's holy standard on how we fulfilled our calling. But, there is often the unspoken pressure of not only pleasing God but also the sheep and this can be exhausting and not always possible. This at times can lead to selfishness, discouragement or other forms of coping for shepherds.
Unfortunately, the end result can be unhealthy churches because both the shepherd and the sheep settle for second best (shallow services) because it is just easier and feels better. If we are not careful, we then begin to measure success by worldy standards. Or, success is measured and talked about with what I like to call "psuedo spiritual speak" that sounds godly but is really just masking what is going on in the hearts of all involved.
Once we've reached this point, we have starving sheep who don't know how to feed themselves with the Word of God and they spend their days with their mouths open whining and crying to be fed. I would suggest this is one of the reasons church hopping is so prevelant in the American church. Is it possible that we have reduced attending church as just another means to filling our happy, feel good quotient? Is it possible that people just want to be entertained and fed what they want to be fed and will continue moving from church to church like they are choosing a restaurant rather than a body of believers to belong and work alongside.
As you can see, the above statement has me thinking and these are nothing more than a few initial thoughts related to it. There are so many more rambling around in my head and yet the heart of the matter is truly this, shepherds must have the heart to serve and live out their lives like the Chief Shepherd. In fact, the Chief Shepherd is soon coming and prayerfully He will find all those who claim to be a disciple of His possessing a heart like His.