February 24, 2020

Walking the Neighborhood

By Chaplain Mike

I am currently reading Eugene Peterson’s The Pastor: A Memoir. Soon, Jeff and I will post a discussion on this remarkable retrospective from two points of view: that of a pastor and a parishioner.

Today, I want share a simple story from the book.

When Peterson was in seminary in New York City, Dr. George A. Buttrick was pastor of the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church. After Sunday evening services each week, he would invite seminarians back to the manse for fellowship and discussions. There was no agenda, just a simple give and take between pastor and students.

I will let Peterson take it from here.

On one of these evenings he was asked by one of the students something about preaching. Something on the order of ‘What is the most important thing you do in preparing to preach each Sunday?’ I think we were all surprised by the answer, at least I was. His answer, ‘For two hours every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, I walk through the neighborhood and make home visits. There is no way that I can preach the gospel to these people if I don’t know how they are living, what they are thinking and talking about. Preaching is proclamation, God’s word revealed in Jesus, but only when it gets embedded in conversation, in a listening ear and responding tongue, does it become gospel.’

• The Pastor, p.86f

That is one of the best and truest sentences I’ve ever read: “Preaching is proclamation, God’s word revealed in Jesus, but only when it gets embedded in conversation, in a listening ear and responding tongue, does it become gospel.”

A pastor cannot do his/her job unless his/her words and actions are “embedded in conversation.” What happens on Sunday is of a piece with what happens during the week. A romantic dinner with my wife is connected organically to the life we live together when we are relating to each other as we act out our normal routines day by day: ”fixing, eating and cleaning up after meals, going to work, keeping house, paying bills, doing chores, relating to our children, planning our family calendar, watching television. The special occasion celebrates, fortifies, and enhances the relationship that is built in the everyday.”

Without the daily work of marriage, that romantic dinner might as well be a blind date.

Unfortunately, this is how many ministers operate. They want to stand before the crowds on Sundays without walking through the neighborhoods and making visits on Tuesdays and Thursdays. There is proclamation but little conversation. They are not conversant with the lives, families, work environments, daily pressures, relational situations, and personal questions of those who hear them speak each Sunday. They may be knowledgeable about books, ideas, and overseeing programs, but how much do they know about you and me? As speakers, teachers, visionaries and motivators, they may be very good at what they do, but they cannot rightly be called pastors. “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me…” (John 10:14).

I’m not saying we shouldn’t have people who specialize in public speaking in the church. I am saying we need a whole lot more of them to be pastors. There is no substitute for “walking the neighborhood.”

In one of his classic books on ministry, Eugene Peterson wrote about “ministry amid the traffic,” the pastor’s work between Sundays, away from the church building and program.

Until about a century ago, what pastors did between Sundays was a piece with what they did on Sundays. The context changed: instead of an assembled congregation, the pastor was with one other person or with small gatherings of persons, or alone in study and prayer. The manner changed: instead of proclamation, there was conversation. But the work was the same: discovering the meaning of Scripture, developing a life of prayer, guiding growth into maturity.

…The between-Sundays work of American pastors in this century, though, is running a church.”

The Contemplative Pastor, p.66f

A lot has changed since Peterson wrote those words. Michael Spencer’s article that we’ve been reviewing this week has chronicled some of those changes, especially with regard to the evangelical megachurches. Today, he might write, “The between-Sundays work of American pastors in this century, though, is GROWING a church.” As Michael pointed out, the ethos of growth has overwhelmed the contemporary pastorate. This has changed the pastor’s role. No longer is he/she devoted primarily to “the cure of souls.” Now the job consists of being an entrepreneur, who not only administrates a corporate entity, but who is also expected to energize and transform it into a brand name enterprise. “The Gospel is a product and the world is a market niche.”

In contrast, Peterson has consistently said, “our most important work…is directing worship in the traffic, discovering the presence of the cross in the paradoxes and chaos between Sundays, calling attention to the ‘splendor in the ordinary,’ and, most of all, teaching a life of prayer to our friends and companions in the pilgrimage” (CP, p.73).

In this sense, I therefore heartily encourage congregations everywhere to rise up and tell their pastors to “take a walk” — around the neighborhood, that is.

Comments

  1. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    Unfortunately, this is how many ministers operate. They want to stand before the crowds on Sundays without walking through the neighborhoods and making visits on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

    Analogous to a wanna-be writer who “doesn’t want to write (too much work), he wants to Have Written.” Who wants the success and adulation and respect without wanting to do the work needed to achieve that adulation and respect. Until as Jonathan Swift put it in his “Dialogue between a Bee and a Spider”, he only achieves that “Spiderish Contemplation of Two Inches Round”. I have seen that happen for real, and this is just the preacher’s version of that trap.

  2. Ya know what? I think that Peterson fellow has been stealing his ideas from elsewhere! The GALL! Read this:

    “There is no way that I can preach the gospel to these people if I don’t know how they are living, what they are thinking and talking about. Preaching is proclamation, God’s word revealed in Jesus, but only when it gets embedded in conversation, in a listening ear and responding tongue, does it become gospel.’”

    and then read this:

    “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”

    Coincidence they are suggesting the same thing? I think not!

    Where does that Peterson fellow get off taking ideas from the Bible and applying them?!

  3. In all fairness, there are a lot of other things that have changed in the past century to make “walking the neighborhood” largely impossible. The biggest change is cars and increased mobility making the “neighborhood” increasingly irrelevant to most people. I suppose driving all around the city would be possible, but that would waste an awful lot of time and gas, with no guarantee of people being home or really being happy to have someone just drop by un-announced.

    With all the nostalgia for the small local church here we sometimes forget that the reason they were small local churches is that distance was a genuinely limiting factor in the past. At this point almost any good church (for any and all possible definitions of “good”) will grow to several hundred whether it really wants to or not, which quickly gets to be more than a pastor can reasonably keep track of. There are ways to artificially stay small, but that seems rather unfair to others who might want to join.

    I think it’s definitely great to want pastors to be more involved with the lives of the congregation, however it’s an extremely difficult task even for those who desire it the most.

    • good points ken.

      i suppose, then, that with the advent of suburban sprawl, automobiles and splintered communities resulting from the distance(s) that you speak of, that the efficacy of church (a place where those who are at their last end can come and find hope) as such, is tenuous at best. i guess there is just no way for people to genuinely and deeply relate to one another anymore.

      but wait, what about the problem of bipedal travel that plagued Jesus, His disciples and the members of the early church that evangelized across continents up until cars were invented?

      i’m sorry ken, but i have to disagree with you entirely. yes, i’ve been sardonic, but all in good fun.

      but i digress.

      in all seriousness, the fact that many pastors know virtually nothing about the members of their flock is a clarion espousal of the vapid, shallow, and double-mindedness that permeates so much of the contemporary north american evangelical empire. within this empire, people don’t really matter. people are regarded as employees, and when an employee has outlived their usefulness to be able to contribute to the bottom line of the profit margin, they are gone. that PERSON is gone. bye-bye. profit wins, people lose. the corporate, business mentality which drives the north american economy has successfully infiltrated and destroyed the church. it’s a numbers game today.

      i work for a church planting company, and in the last three years i’ve seen such egoism and waste across north america that it disgusts me. to be fair, i’ve visited some truly beautiful churches where people get the Gospel. but more often that i’d like to admit, i’ve seen pastors become totally unglued because the color of their table cloth was incorrect. pastors becoming, simply stated, mean, downright mean, insulting, degrading and nasty because of such minute, little, and truly insignificant details. BUT, they are heading up and launching the latest mega-church. they are successful. they are profitable. they are worshiped. they give sermons on the “it” factor, and they go on and on about how “they” definitely have “it”.

      it reminds me of my younger days when i worked as a bartender. the band “no doubt” was playing a show one night, and while i was tending to their dressing room gwen stefani (lead singer) just kept going on and on about how much she hated detroit and could not wait until the show was over. and wouldn’t you know it, as soon as she hit the stage she exclaimed, ‘i love you detroit!’ on and on she went about how much she loved detroit.

      you see, once you see the underside of what is presented to the masses, once you see the man behind the curtain, so to speak, you just can’t go back to viewing things the way that you once did.

      like i have said so many times here before, it would be comical if it weren’t so damnably tragic.

      here’s an idea. let the church forfeit its tax exempt status with the government and we’ll see how many pastors remain.

      • Isaac (the poster formerly known as Obed) says

        Jason,

        I once heard a church planter cite some study that suggested that when asked how big their church needs to be in order to be ready to send folks off on a church plant, most pastors named a figure 20% higher than their current attendance, regardless of how big their church was. Have you found this to be true also in your work?

        • yeah. usually a portion of the “parent” campus’ (note the use of the word “campus” and not “church”) congregation will assist in the planting of a new chu – er – campus.

    • Really?

      So it is that hard to set up a time to get together with people (say 2 or 3 in a week). You can’t have people over for a meal?

      Part of the heart of christianity is community.

    • Uh, Ken (the first one), who said anything about “small church” in this post? We’re talking about a major church in New York City here, Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church. My point is actually strengthened when you understand that this was a large church, and its pastor did have a lot of administrative responsibilities. He still devoted time each week to visiting people’s homes.

    • So is that why satellite campuses and broadcasting in a sermon is important…?

    • david carlson says

      Ken is 100% correct.

      We ain’t in Mayberry, and we ain’t going back.

      • I agree, but I would say it is still essential to try and create “Mayberry” type relationships in a Facebook world.

        • Frankly, I wouldn’t even mind getting a sincere email from a pastor from time to time. My far-flung biological family communicates that way, and I still feel connected to them. Face to face is best, but pastoral care can be expressed in many different ways if the pastor has the desire to.

          • Weird timing on this: just yesterday I got the mass e-mail that announced that so-and-so , nationally known expert on x,y, and z will be visiting out church this weekend and it will definitely be lifechanging, etc, etc, etc. Nothing remarkable there, except for the comment that the pastor is SURE that this would be life changing for ME and my spiritual life. In the context of Peterson’s words, how could he possibly KNOW what would be life changing for me, if we never meet and talk ??

            I know the e-mail contents are just a “form letter”, cliches are thrown around like…..er, um…. sales pitches…. how else can we say it ? Pastoral communication reads like mega-mall advertisements these days. THANKS Chap Mike for this post, E. Peterson’s words, esp the last paragraph are getting copied , bolded, and reread.

            GregR

          • When I was a pastor, I found the telephone a very useful tool. Many of my parishioners appreciated a call as much or more than a visit.

        • david carlson says

          I think we need to create processes that fully involve the congregation and provide meaningful connections (or at least opportunities for – if all someone wants is a cold handshake on the way out the door, well, they can have that, I guess).

          He is responsible for every congregant, but I dispute that the senior pastor must be the connected to the lives of every single congregant.

  4. All of my pastor friends agree with what one pastor said “My job is to keep the people who pay the bills happy”. There’s the property and all the expenses that go with it, the salaries (including the pastor’s paycheck) and the programs. Especially in these days of declining attendance and giving in many congregations, you’ve just gotta make those folks happy or you’ll be out in the street, not visiting parishioners, but looking for a job.

    • And in so doing don’t we end up being slaves of the culture?

    • What is the difference between these people and a hireling? If the heat is too hot, get out of the kitchen. The Church is messed up enough without Pastors kissing a** to keep their jobs. I know lots of Pastors, but can count the good ones with the fingers of both my hands. How can these guys boldly and impartially proclaim God’s Law and Gospel? They are muzzled by a cup of broth and a bowl of gruel, and a roof over their heads. The Pastorate is not for cowards.

      Like they say in Texas ‘Don’t let the door hit ya’ where the Good Lord split ya’

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        My writing partner — the one who’s been told to his face that he’s a hireling “to keep us Comfortable” — has a wife and three sons to support, in an area that was very depressed BEFORE the current depression. He has been trying to “get out of the kitchen” for the ten years I’ve known him, to no avail. “Must Provide Own Support…”

        I’m sure when he and his family are homeless and eating out of dumpsters (as pastors’ widows routinely do where he’s from), everyone Will Pray For Him (TM).

  5. David Cornwell says

    Regardless of where the people are, the type of community it is, or whatever, it is the pastors job to know the people. Of course the culture has changed. It was inconvenient for Jesus to come to this world and live among us and to teach, heal the people, and die on a cross, but he did it because of God’s love for us. Pastors need to figure out a way to do it, then do it.

  6. I wonder how many pastors think they are “walking the neighborhood” by being on Facebook or Twitter. Maybe that works. Who knows. It still can’t be the same. But life has become so virtual on so many levels. Houses are not homes; their just bases of operation. A parish is no longer a neighborhood or a village; people live in scattered parts of a city – perhaps in adjacent cities several hours away. A pastor can’t drop by a business office like his predecessors may have stopped by the farm, the lumber yard, the blacksmith shop, the hardware store, or the wharf to visit his parishioners busy at their vocations. A pastor has to visit an infinite number of point where parishioners are are scattered. It’s not that it can’t be done; it just difficult.

    I agree with some of the other comments, that visitations weren’t easy back in the day of travel by foot or horse, or where circuit pastors were responsible for multiple parishes separated by great distances. That is still true today. But I’m not sure it is the same; a circuit pastor was assigned to organized communities, rather than herding suburban cats.

    • It also can’t be easy to think of visiting members who may be in church today but then move onto the next mega-church down the street tomorrow. How can there be community in the consumer-oriented marketing of modern evangelicalism? What community do shoppers at the local big box store have among each other? Brand loyalty? They are all friends of that store’s Facebook page? Hardly.

      The opposite is true. How can a pastor build relationships with parishioners when they may be assigned to a church for a year or two, or will move on as soon as a “calling” to a bigger, more prestigious church comes along?

    • David Cornwell says

      I think it is vastly more complex today to get to know the people today. But there are some situations that apply to almost everyone. Like the hospital or a time of serious sickness. Pastors can meet the person who is sick, and family members also and visit with them. The same is true of death. Preparing for a funeral, if it is handled properly, provides the opportunity to meet lots of people. When a baby is expected presents opportune occasions. People who are interested in the church should be visited by the pastor in one way or another. Anyone who is hurting, divorces, and addictions present other ways to connect.

      There are lots of towns and small cities where that have common places people gather. Restaurants, fire stations, coffee shops. I live near a small town of about 4500 population. The previous Methodist pastor knew just about everyone in town. People wept when they heard he was leaving, because in many cases he had been with them through hurt.

      Facebook, etc may be a way to connect in a superficial way, hopefully leading to something better.

      Large cities and suburban areas present more problems. But I still think a pastor who thinks about it can find ways to connect with his/her people.

      • David, you are a wealth of insight in this area. Get this message out whenever you can, the church is languishing and thirsting for it. And if you decide to right your one and only book, we can plug it here @ IMONK. Where there is a will to connect, face to face, there is a way. You’ve been given some great examples.

        GregR

  7. I think what many people are crying for is community. A community that radiates love and is authentic (heck I did when I was in the game…) where people can be a warmly embraced no matter where they are at. A pastor can do this…however this is not something that many aspire to do, nor want to Walking around and getting to know people would be one way to do it. Another way is if a pastor actually reached out of the blue and inquired on someone. If a pastor from any of the churches I attended actually did that (call out of the blue to talk, get to know me, etc..) that would be differnet.

    And in an age where technology is making people more lonely and isolated…why not do that? Plus consider the changing demographics in the country today. More and more people are moving to cities and there’s more opportunites to do such a thing!!! Take it from me folks…Washington, D.C. is a lonely city. It happens for a number of reasons..people move in and out making the area very transitory, image is everything so poeple put up a facade, etc… If a pastor reached out to me while I was going to church…that would have stunned me.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      I think what many people are crying for is community. A community that radiates love and is authentic (heck I did when I was in the game…) where people can be a warmly embraced no matter where they are at.

      This is both the attraction and the curse of Furry Fandom. And what I experienced in 1976 when I left a splinter church with control-freak cultic leanings for this new thing called Dungeons & Dragons.

  8. this from the Amazon descriptions of Peterson’s book:

    “More than a gifted writer, Eugene Peterson is a voice calling upon the churches to recover the vocation of the pastor in order to experience the renewing of their faith in the midst of an increasingly commercialized, depersonalized, and spiritually barren land.” (Dale T. Irvin, President, New York Theological Seminary )

  9. Why does everyone seem to assume that it is the SENIOR pastor’s job to do all this visitation? Most churches today have multiple staff pastors. Surely they could all be encouraged to do visitiation in the area every week for a couple of hours, whether in the neighborhoods where they live or the neighborhood of the church building.

    And it would be greatly appreciated. I know in the early days of attendance at my current church, the pastor himself once gave me a lift to a small group gathering. Now we have exploded into a megachurch and I can’t even imagine such a thing happening. (Again, not that such things need fall entirely on the pastors. Ideally, that attitude of service is transmiited to the membership who can take on such duties. But it would still be nice to have some personal connection to the pastors from time to time.)

    • Why does everyone seem to assume that it is the SENIOR pastor’s job to do all this visitation? Most churches today have multiple staff pastors.

      Who said anything about “ALL….????” In my neck of the woods, it’s the small group pastor and friends who take care of most of this. That guy, let’s call him Fred, is being worn to a nub,NOT because he is shy about delegating, but because !) the pastor is too busy vision casting, preaching, and face-booking and just as connected 2) has failed to make disciples in what Peterson is talking about and HAS succeeded making disciples in his own likeness This is a pastor who doesn’t pastor begetting non-pastors…… and so it goes.

      I get your point if you saying that the pastor does NOT have to be THE GUY….. that’s a sure fire way to ruin a good man or woman. But they should be leading by example: doing in PRACTICE what they are asking the flock to do. This is nothing less than the life of Jesus/Paul/the apostles and deacons of the NT multiplied out. Not church as Fortune 500 with pastor as entreprenuer/vision caster. From where I sit, this rarely happens, and it doesn’t even seem to occur to many that our current evangelical situation (I would say especially among the non-denoms) is horribly corporate and out of whack. If the folks are coming in the door, how could it POSSIBLY be out of kilter ???

      GregR

      • Sorry if I was a little imprecise in my wording. I guess I wrote a little too quickly this morning. And I guess I get concerned when someone like Peterson brings forth a good concept – pastors personally visiting their poeple – and people start thinking about all the reasons why it might not work today (transient society, changing roles of pastors, etc.) If we start thinking of all the problems before we ever even try, then we may never try to do anything.

    • Richard Hershberger says

      “Most churches today have multiple staff pastors.”

      I very much doubt that this is true. I suppose it might be true within the limited set of American Evangelical Protestant churches, but even there I have my doubts. I live in a semi-rural, semi-exurban county. It has two or three churches with fall in, or at least aspire to, megachurch status. It has a few large(ish) mainline churches in the towns. And it has several Catholic parishes. I strongly suspect that these churches all have multiple pastors (though the Catholics only apply that word to the senior priest in the parish). Then there is the usual run of small churches of various denominations. Some of the country churches are two hundred years old. There also are many modestly sized churches in the towns. I strongly suspect that these smaller churches have at most one pastor each. There are far more entries in the small(ish) church category than there are large(is) churches. The large cities I have lived in tend to have similar distributions.

  10. Until about a century ago, what pastors did between Sundays was a piece with what they did on Sundays.

    Some have, very eloquently, written that the “hole in our gospel” is social injustice, turning a blind eye and cold shoulder to the physical and social needs of the world while preaching a spiritual message of salvation. I’m going to put forward that THIS ABOVE is every bit a “hole in the gospel”, that preachers have contented themselves with preaching one thing, and essentially doing another. The excuses for “doing another” are many, but you can boil almost all of them down to PRAGAMATISM THAT LEADS TO CHURCH GROWTH (NUMERICALLY). I am NOT against big churches, or large ministries, but the “revolution” that Chap Mike mentioned will be one where the spiritual progress on small groups of two’s and three’s and fives will matter much more than today’s warm butt in the seats count. Much more than conference numbers and DVD sales.

    We cannot sit still for a model of leadership that excuses not having a relational bone in your body. Maybe tiy cab be a scholar or writer that way, but a PASTOR ? Dude, you are in the wrong job, if it’s head pastor. I know my words are heavily influenced by my individual experience, so take these words and weigh them out, I’m quite aware that things are NOT so bleak in all non-denom circles, but I think what I’ve lived out (and am still living out) is just the tip of the iceburg. And you know what Iceburghs can do. I think it’s time to lovingly, slowly, with great patience and instruction PUSH BACK against the status quo…..and hop our great grand kids have somethng much, much, better.

  11. It’s been almost 20 years since I had a pastor who got what it meant to walk among his people and really did the incarnational thing reasonably well in that regard, but he soon got promoted to a higher position in the denomination!

    Since then, the attempts by pastors to “connect” have been both rare and often so strange when they did occur I’d rather they hadn’t. And there’s often an ulterior motive like wanting to sign you up to do some duty or leadership role at the church. Doesn’t make it feel very genuine. But that’s just my experience. YMMV.

    We need pastors and a church system that enables pastors to walk among people and help all their parishoners, even (especially!) those who are far from being in a position to help grow their church or give to or get with the latest church program. Please, don’t try to “plug me in.” Just walk beside me and be my friend. Is that too much to ask?

    • John:
      It is a reality of life that we also have to be willing to jump into community to experience growth.
      I can’t speak to your circumstance, in my church I have seen people complain about the lack of friendliness and their feelings of being alone who then say they have no time to get together individually or with a small group.
      Presumably it is because they don’t necessarily like the people or what they really want is lots of 1 on 1 with pastors.
      In my own case, I never began to grow as a Christian until I was willing to say ‘I am going to be part of this community’

      • With respect, you’re assuming a lot of things that aren’t the case.

        • What do you think the motivation of the person trying to get you involved is?
          Do you think it is manipulative? Or are they trying to be helpful and don’t know another way?

          I guess in some ways I gave up years ago looking for meaning from my pastor, or even relationship. Often it just won’t happen. So I have learned to seek out other people and have community.

          I guess that is the heart of my comments about jumping into the community (we used to call it getting plugged in, hence my reaction to your comments)

  12. Two months ago I got together with a sucessful church planter (church grown to over 1000).
    He is being courted by some of us to help start a work. I was surprised at his formula.

    Community. Spending time with people. He says he ends up with small groups at the house to eat every Sunday. He keeps the connections up.
    Having said that he has decided he does not want to lead the plant, but is willing to help. He says his family is important and does not want that to suffer.

    Just a thought for those who say you can’t be relational

  13. Maybe a large portion of the problem is the whole idea of ‘mega-church’ The idea that unless an organization is ‘growing’ numerically it isn’t successful is a business paradigm. I think we really need to reconsider this model.

    Peterson determined early on in his ministry never to Pastor more people than whose names he could remember. For him that was about 300 people.

    Those who wish to be CEOs of religious organizations, (mega churches) delegating their tasks to underlings, (equipping the saints for the work of what they term ‘ministry’) will hate this idea and fight tooth and nail against it.

    • Your points here are valid but I think the problem is even worse than you describe. In my situation, the pastor does NOT want to be a mega-church , and has said so repeatedly (which is great), but at the same time embraces much of the pastor as CEO model. In other words, he may not be pushing church-as-Walmart, but it’s still a corporate style of leading, and numbers is still the huge deal, even if he does NOT want to get over 1000. Again, I’m NOT opposed to a church of 300, or 700, or 1700…..but is the pastor really pastoring (shepherding , in the biblical sense of doing watchcare for souls) or something else and delegating the job to others as a default setting because he’s too busy with “the work of the gospel”, the sermon, etc…… did I mention the sermon and the sermon ????

      GregR

  14. Rita Bair says

    At one of the final seminary classes I attended (Trinity Lutheran Seminary – yes, one of those 4 year academic affairs that some folks criticized in earlier postings in this series) after our 1 year internship in a congregation, 4 or 5 Bishops from the ELCA gathered with us. One of the older Bishops was asked – give your top piece of advice to these soon-to-be-pastors…and he said, simply – ‘love your people’.
    We were told by these Bishops – get to know your congregation; gather with them; visit them even when they aren’t sick; and just love them.

  15. See my comment from March 2 under the post “iMonk Classic: Those Magnificent Young Men in Their Pastoring Machines (4)” It’s probably more relevant to this post.
    When I worked at a seminary, walking the neighborhood was certainly not at the top of anyone’s list…well, ok, a few students, maybe. Scholars were being trained there, not parish pastors, but they were being sent out to be parish pastors, and many of them only lasted a few years.

  16. Unfortunately, this is how many ministers operate. They want to stand before the crowds on Sundays without walking through the neighborhoods and making visits on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

    Another unintended consequence of this model is that extroverts, who mirror the pastor’s personality in some way, often get the lion’s share of attention and promotion. Believers who want to live quieter lives of faithfulness are relegated to the shadows and corners. It fits so well with the model of church as program and entertainment that most people don’t notice it’s happening.