....and yet, week after week, they get up on the stage and give it their best shot. They smile, they dress up (or dress down – depends on the church), and they tell us that they have all the answers.
Why? Why is there this mismatch between “ordinary human” and “know-it-all pastor”? Because that's what the system turns them into. When the venue is set up as a performance hall, the guy (or girl) on the stage is expected to perform for the audience. Hannah Montana’s fans don’t want to know that she’s behind in her homework, or having a fight with her best friend – they want to see her dance and hear her sing. When the church members sit passively in rows, they expect the guy they hired to spend his week studying the Scriptures and listening to the Spirit, and to package it neatly for Sunday morning and present it in a challenging-but-enjoyable format.
How do I know all this? Because I’m the pastor’s wife. For 6 years, we drove to church each Sunday, psyching ourselves into performance mode despite whatever stresses and morning-time mishaps were on our mind. It wasn’t until we moved out of established church ministry and started gathering as equals in an interactive, participatory community, that we could relax and lay aside the act, and start being ourselves.
Meeting in rows sets one person up to be a role model, to have all the answers and to take responsibility for the spiritual growth and well-being of the whole community. Meeting in a circle puts everybody on an equal footing, allows us to admit we don’t have all the answers, and to share the burdens of the whole community as we grow together. Changing the layout doesn’t just reduce the pressure on the pastor – it also empowers the rest of us to discover our voice, discover our gifts, and minister to one another as Jesus told us to. LINK