Tentmaking

Those who have read what I have written for some years may recall that as a young man I served as pastor to a very distressed mainline Protestant church. It was a place in which I quickly and forcibly learned lessons I have never forgotten, a bootcamp experience that altered my perceptual world, and which has provided a deep well of sympathy for faithful ministers as men who take seriously the responsibility for speaking the truth (that is, for speaking Christ) "in season and out." It was something I needed.

Because my own pastoral experience was sad, hard, and short, I have been attentive to those who managed to survive in the office for many years. I wanted to know how they had managed. At a meeting of the local ministerium (destroyed in that town by progressive clergy who insisted on making public prayers in the name of God our Father and Mother), I spoke at some length to a conservative (now, alas, one has to add that adjective) Evangelical pastor who had mentioned a sermon lately preached to his congregation on a topic which I was sure it would not like—even though it was a perfectly Christian message. I asked him what kind of opposition he encountered. Wasn't he afraid of losing his job?

He told me that when he was confident he was speaking the Word, he didn't care about opposition. The reason was not that he was mighty in prayer, or had a faithfully interceding sainted grandmother (which both may have been so), or had the goods on three of his elders, but because he was rich, and didn't give a hoot if they put him out on the street. If they did, he'd just walk down to the bank.

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S. M. Hutchens is a Touchstone senior editor.


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