Tuesday, April 2, 2013

My Church and Me

This month marks 30 years that I have been a pastor's wife. To me, this is not an occupation, but rather a result of my husband's call to the ministry. If he's called to be a pastor, I'm going to be a pastor's wife. Pretty simple.

Kudos to him - 30 faithful years in pastoral ministry! He was pastor of  four different churches and planted three others.

Despite the confusion I always felt from the expectations of those around me as a pastor's wife, my role in all this has been to be his wife, the mother of his children and the person God wants me to be. The only expectations I perceive I need to fulfill are first God's, then my husband's.

I was not raised in a Christian home, far from it, so I never had a pastor in my life, let alone his wife. I did go to church as a teenager for a couple of years, but going to be with my sisters and friends, then laughing in the back row, hardly qualifies me as a church-goer. When I did hear and receive the Gospel, at 18 years of age, I joined a church shortly thereafter....and had a pastor. His wife was always sweet and kind to me, but I had no expectations of her. This is why people's expectations of me, as a pastor's wife, have been so confusing.

Last Friday, Kevin T. Bauder of Central Seminary, wrote a blog post on In The Nick of Time that I can't stop thinking about. It captured my whys; my reasons for going to church, for being so committed to church, for my service in the church, etc.

Because my position as a pastor's wife is not my motivation for anything I do in the church, this blog post really resonated with me. Let me highlight a few things he said that were especially meaningful to me:

"All church members submit themselves to the discipline of their church, which means that they submit themselves mutually to one another. They swear (for the covenant is an oath) that they will watch over one another, care for one another, and hold one another accountable for both private and corporate spirituality."

"A church is not a social club. It is a covenanted body. People should never join a church casually or with mental caveats about what they will do if things do not go their way in the church. Church membership should be viewed less like a date and more like a marriage in the respect that both marriage and church membership begin with a vow before God. There is something deeply immoral about church-hopping, just as there is something disturbing about those believers who wish to attend a church while refusing the commitments of membership."

"A church is a community. Church members cannot expect to fulfill their covenant obligations if they only meet each other during the public assemblies. The nature of their mutual duties requires that they develop relationships that go far beyond the gatherings of the church. They must experience a level of transparency and trust that comes only with knowing one another well."

"Churches pride themselves on attracting a number of attendees that would have been inconceivable in the past. Anonymity is endemic to the situation. We are beset with a sense that our personal lives are nobody else’s business, and that word nobody includes the fellow members of our churches.
Nothing could be more deadly to church life."
"A church has to do more than to foster special-interest groups (such as a youth group, a sportsmen’s group, a mothers-of-preschoolers group, a quilting circle, etc.). It also has to do more than assign members to small-group studies. While these activities may be a part of the solution, by themselves they cannot do more than to produce a congregation of cliques. In a large church filled with members who are unknown to one another, such activities are better than nothing, but they are not enough. They will not produce a body in which the members are genuinely fulfilling their covenant obligations to one another."
I urge you to read the entire blog post, and the follow-up which is to come this Friday. 

I, personally, do what I do in the church out of a deep love and debt to my Savior and out of obedience to Him.....not because I'm a pastor's wife. My love for the Savior and obedience to Him drives all that I do, in the church and outside the church. Who would want it to be different? This is the ultimate motivation. From this, we learn about His sovereignty, about how trusting Him is a show-piece of our faith, an opportunity for our faith to be seen, not just heard. When times are tough, this will shine through. It will be made manifest.

Praise be.

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