Final Thoughts -- By: Jonathan Armstrong

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 12:3 (Summer 2003)
Article: Final Thoughts
Author: Jonathan Armstrong

Final Thoughts

John H. Armstrong

A friend who ministers in a rural Midwestern mainline denominational setting recently shared with me how distressing it is in his community to see theology treated as a nonexistent or irrelevant reality in the churches. My friend participated in a baptism in his community in which a Lutheran clergyman (it could have been any Protestant denomination if the truth is told) officiated. After several Scripture texts were read the officiating minister normally says something about the significance and importance of baptism. In this instance the presiding pastor said, “I could bore you with a lot of technical talk about baptism but I wasn’t much of a student of theology in seminary so I want to open up the service for anyone to make comments or share thoughts that you have today.”

As my friend wrote, “He had nothing to say so he became Phil Donahue for the moment!” My pastor friend turned to the minister next to him and whispered, “Maybe we can take up a collection and send him to a refresher course at his seminary.” Another colleague, also a Lutheran minister, replied, “Maybe so.

This pastor is typical of many professional clergy across America. They seem to have little to do but settle into the most comfortable ways of living and fill out their days as clergy. This particular clergyman is the town favorite! The real tragedy, beside the fact that his congregation must hear nothing of consequence each Lord’s Day, is that this minister will more than likely be judged rather severely in the Last Day (James 3:1). Renewal by the Spirit would result in many such ministers being startled awake by the glory and power of God the Holy Spirit. May the day come sooner than later for the

sake of thousands of churches scattered across North America.

Humor is essential in the ministry. Indeed, good humor will help us take seriously what really matters. Here is one I think appropriate for a chuckle or two.

A minister was preoccupied with thoughts of how he was going to, after the worship service, ask the congregation to come up with more money than they were expecting for repairs to the church building. Therefore, he was annoyed to find that the regular organist was sick this particular Sunday and a substitute had been brought in at the last minute.

The substitute wanted to know what to play. “Here’s a copy of the service, “said the minister impatiently. “But you’ll have to think of something to play after I make the announcement about the financial need.” During the service the minister paused and said, “Brother and sisters, we are in ...

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