Tuesday, March 17, 2009

To Preach or Not to Preach

“That is the question.”

Recently I witnessed a catastrophe at the pulpit because it was taken for granted that someone should preach even though they had no right to be in front of a Croatian Evangelical congregation. A recap of the events, while humorous and at times downright shocking, would do much more damage than good though. The fact is it was handled with humility and tact afterwards and can be put in the past.

But it nonetheless brings up a good point. Who should preach here in Croatia? Who shouldn't? The vast majority of churches in America have one pastor who at the very least has a bible school degree. Many have much more than that. Unfortunately we can’t use American standards here in Croatia though.

It is estimated that there are 2000 Evangelical Christians in Croatia. In a country of approximately 4 million citizens that's half of .1 percent of the entire population that claim to be born-again Evangelicals. Add to that the facts that the majority of Evangelicals in Croatia are 50 or older, the church has far less money to work with than American churches and there're two protestant seminaries in the country (which is more than Bosnia or Serbia can say) and you get the idea why it might be harder to find someone who is fully qualified to preach - not to mention pastor a church here.

(I haven’t even brought up “calling” either – a concept difficult to understand but nonetheless foundational to a person’s qualification for church leadership)

And most pastors have a day job. Our pastor in Orahovica is an agriculturalist. He’s not able to be in the church office during the day. He visits people on the evenings and weekends. He prepares his sermons sometimes in the wee hours of the night. Pastors, youth workers, worship leaders – if a church has the benefit of having such people – are not paid a cent. Every job in the church is volunteer-based.

So when a local Evangelical church here learns that an African pastor, or German evangelist, or Australian worship leader is in town, they often ask nothing of whether they are qualified to be in front of the church. They invite them, sit back and listen. Sometimes the messages are God-given words of teaching. Often they're not. Sometimes they do much more damage than good.

Such instances put churches in a difficult situation. They need solid teaching. They desire to learn and to grow and mature in Christ. But who’s going to preach? How does a pastor find out if a guest is qualified? How does a local church know if the pastor is called to the ministry? What do you do if you’re a senior pastor who feels you’ve been called to be an associate? These are the kind of difficult questions pastors here find themselves asking.

Perhaps Jesus said it best: “The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few”. Unfortunately the question of who should preach often just turns to ‘who is willing?’

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

oooooooooooh you are pushing some buttons in me... Well let me answer you in the Old Bridge pub, ok?