So as usual, the Blogosphere, or whatever stupid name we are calling the solitary practice of vomiting our opinions onto the internet is called these days, is all aflame, or atwitter (see what I did there…) with scathing critiques. Some people hate Mark Driscoll, some people hate T.D. Jakes and some people hate Mark Driscoll for not hating T.D. Jakes, its all very confusing really…ok its not, but I have always wanted to say that.
Here, however is what I need to say: Our vomiting of opinions onto the internet, is not now, nor has it ever been ministry. In fact I am typing this at 12:30 am because to do it during the day would be to steal from the actual ministry God has called me to. I will at this point be perfectly honest and tell you that this came as something of a revelation to me, though deep down I may have known all along…. it is time to face facts unless your job is to minister to other full time ministers via twitter, there is probably something less than pure about your motives and even more assuredly your means. The only people who have remotely enough time to read Kevin De Young’s Critique of Scot McKnight’s critique of Trevin Wax’s review of N.T. Wright’s latest book are A. unemployed theology geeks or B. full time ministers with dubious work habits (lest you feel critiqued by that know I am employed and I loved the way Kevin told us the key to the Christian life was to be careful or we might accidentally do something…)
That said the idea that we are warning the masses of some impending heresy (or method if you are the kind of liberal who doesn’t care about doctrine and hates Driscoll) demands that we ask the question: who exactly are the masses? Frankly when it comes to twitter especially, I see only 3 dominant types of people in follower lists: Porn bots we can’t get rid off, marketers we feel guilty about blocking and other Minister/pastors/theology geeks. If those are the masses we are trying to reach then by all means we should continue to twitter flame away, even though we all know 140 characters are great for starting fights and terrible at changing minds (or hearts).
As for me, though I love my twitter buddies, and count many as true friends, the fact is they are not the masses God has called me to. The masses God has called me to are not in fact much of a mass at all by twitter (or celebuChristian) standards. The people I am called to are the people of our congregations in Godwin Heights and Godfrey-Lee. Good people, great in fact. They are also predominantly employed in something other than ministry. These are the sheep God has called me to shepherd, that is my job, my vocation and my calling. Of those sheep I would venture that less than half of them have ever heard of any of the Elephants in our Evangelical Room. This is not to say that they don’t love Jesus, don’t care about doctrine or are not discipled. It is simply to say that they have a pastor, they know his name and he is with them physically every week and for them this is enough. Given this reality who exactly is it that I am tweeting to when I fire off a 140 character masterpiece that rivials Edwards “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” in power if not in length? And just as importantly why am I firing that tweet off?
The answer is simple….I am firing it off to you. People connected and interested enough in theology and the celebrity Christian world to visit twitter, click a link and read a way too long a post about ideas that they already have a background in so that the post makes sense to them. Guess how many of those are in my congregation? How many are in yours?
I am not arguing that we should not fight heresy, or protect our congregation or correct wrong ideas, I am simply suggesting that for most of us God has given us a perfect place to do that and it is a pulpit, not a computer. The reason that you and I prefer a computer is simple: We want to be just as famous as the people we critique. Following on the heals of ubiquitous consumerism we now have in the church a burgeoning celebrity culture… Famous pastors, famous churches…fame, fame, fame. And by and large all that fame is lost on our congregations, but not the hearts of us pastors, who at once make others famous and long for their fame. We all want to be the Next __________ or the second coming of ___________. It is this impure longing more than anything I am convinced that is motivating our tweets, our posts, our diatribes as we all struggle to out post, out think, out wit others in hopes that they will think we are really cool…Its all so JR. high and all so true.
If our longing it truly to see our congregation changed, transformed, protected, discipled and educated we would all be wise to spend less time launching bombs on twitter and more time loving them, correcting them, leading them and sharing life. They need to know how to spot heresy, they need to know how to think “Christianly” they need learn theological issues and vocabulary. They need so many things. One thing they don’t need is a celebrity pastor, nor can I see them being greatly benefitted by having a more expansive knowledge of celeb pastors. What they need is a pastor who is fully dedicated to them and their issues, till their lives become our concern and their problems our problems. I am a pastor to people who are growing in Christ and struggling in life. People who have just recently come to Christ and people who have known him a while. What they all seem to have in common though is they’ve got all kind of problems and that makes them my problem…and so I got 99 problems but T.D. Jakes ain’t one.