Focus Scripture: Acts 20:32-38
Paul is getting ready to leave a church he has been leading. He has taught them everything he knows. He taught them to watch for false prophets and warned them about those who would try to lead them astray. In short, he taught them everything he knew so they could stand on their own and continue to grow in their faith and follow Jesus.
And they are understandably sad at his leaving. Perhaps they are even a little afraid, thinking: "How will we do this on our own? We need him. What if we mess it all up?" But he has to go and so they say good bye and see him off.
As a United Methodist, this pattern seems very normal to me. It's the pattern we follow. Pastors come and teach a congregation what they can. The pastor shares the wisdom he or she has and tries to prepare the members to stand on their own, knowing all the while that the day will come when the pastor will leave and the congregation will have to go on without the pastor, using the lessons they have been taught, but otherwise continuing the ministry as a congregation, rather than just as followers.
It is not unlike a parent with a child. You teach them what they will need to stand on their own. And although you want to protect them, at some point, they must indeed make it. They must take the lessons you ahve taught them and live on their own. I am certainly not the first one to draw this analogy, comparing a church to parents and children. Indeed I was reading an article this week that drew the same analogy and equating mature Christians to parents:
When parents have children, do the children go off to work so the parents can eat, sleep and get new clothes? No. The children don’t support their parents. They don’t provide for their parents. They don’t sacrifice for their parents. Parents make personal sacrifices for the sake of their children. That’s how life works. The mature sacrifice for the immature. The older sacrifices for the younger.
It’s no different in the church. The mature Christian does not demand that their style be adhered to, or that things go their way. The mature Christian willingly sacrifices their preferences for others. In their maturity they understand that it isn’t about them, it’s about Jesus. It is the responsibility of the mature to sacrifice their preferences for the good of the community.
Read more at http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/what-do-when-you-stop-liking-your-church#JXdUgJ8bKhRIVpx6.99