As I was checking in on some of the Big Shots in my blogroll, I found a great post from the Internet Monk about the lack of biblical support for a "secret rapture" and was enjoying it thoroughly. I generally seem to enjoy a post more when I agree with it! Then I started in on what promised to be a long string of comments after the post. I hadn't even reached the tenth comment when I hit a sentence which made me stop dead in my tracks:
I’ve had a similar experience, except that my church is too big for me to actually talk with my pastor.Stop. Rewind.
...my church is too big for me to actually talk with my pastor.Now maybe for many of you, that sentence means nothing. But as a pastor, that sentence breaks my heart.
I understand the way larger churches operate -- a series of pastors on staff taking care of different responsibilities with pastoral care, teaching, shepherding, visitation, administration, music, small groups, youth -- but what kind of church is too big for an individual to not be able to talk with his or her pastor. One of the major roles of the pastor is to be the spiritual leader of the congregation. What kind of spiritual leader is not accessible?
Deep breath here. I realize that this was just the perception of one person within the congregation. I'm sure the pastor in question here is probably just dying to talk eschatology with each grandparent, single mom and college student in the church. But the point is that the pastor and or the church is giving the impression that the individual member isn't important enough to take up the senior pastor's valuable time. Look, if I'm part of a church where the pastor stands behind the pulpit or in front of the assembled masses and says that when Jesus returns He'll be passing out Girls Gone Wild videos and saving all Christians, Muslims and Hare Krishnas, there is nothing on this earth that is going to keep me from speaking to the pastor about it! Nor should there be.
We are baptised into one Church, one body. We have different functions, but we are one in Christ Jesus. We are not an insignificant part -- not so insignificant as to not deserve an explanation from the guy doing the preaching. If a church is actually set up so that the pastor can not be contacted with spiritual or doctrinal questions, or if it gives the congregation that impression, the church is too big. Period. I'm not concerned with drawing lines of 1000 people or 2500 people or 5000 people or even 100 people. My concern is that a pastor is just that -- a pastor. He is to be accountable for his teachings and available to the people. He doesn't have to recognize each church-goer when they pass one another in the supermarket aisle, but he does need to shred the insulation around him until it is known that the pastor's door is always open to the first-time visitor as well as to the Administrative Board Chairman. Plus it is his responsibility to be sure that each member of the congregation knows that. A church which is too big for an individual to come talk to the senior pastor about what was taught during the service is too big.
And so, I never thought I'd say it, but I've come to the conclusion that size matters.