Yesterday I returned home from a short tw0-day trip to eastern Washington where I attended the annual conference held for pastors of our denomination. It had been a few years since I had made the trek over and I was looking forward to seeing some old friend and hopefully connect with some new pastors.
Looking back on the experience I can say that it was worth the time and cash to attend. I was encouraged by some of my conversations…confused by the overall lack of vision spoken…excited about the increasing number of pastors who are planting churches.
There was one moment on Tuesday morning where the day started with a brief time of prayer and communion. I emphasize brief since the majority of the morning was dedicated to the “business” meeting that takes place each year. You know the routine…department reports, finances, voting on positions…the usual church business stuff.
I happened to walk in the auditorium a little late. They had already begun to serve communion. I sat in the very back so not to be a distraction to anyone. While sitting there and observing all that was happening, I couldn’t help but take notice to two tables. One table was placed up on the stage. On it were bottles of water, microphones, reports, and laptops. The other table was on the floor and placed on it were the stacks of communion trays.
One was a business table and the other, the Lord’s table.
Two very different tables, representing very different things. The truth is, that one table is vital to the church body while the other has too often been made more important than it needs to be. It was in these few minutes of sitting and watching that I wondered to myself…which table are we pastors most familiar with? Is pastoral leadership becoming more about money, numbers, and meetings? Are we becoming more familiar with the business table than the other, which represents surrender…sacrifice…repentance…and shared experiences?
Now, I know at first that may seem like a critical statement. I only ask the questions since I know myself and how easy it is to make my ministry about church business and not seek the life of a shepherd. In my experiences there have been many who have sat me down at one table and trained me to build crowds and manage budgets, but few have been a constant voice teaching me that my calling is formed at other table where truth and grace…and hope and healing are lived.
We live in a day and age where the business table cannot be avoided. We need it. But, the Lord’s table is where we should want to be found. It’s there that egos are checked and hearts are shaped. I can only hope and pray that when my career as a pastor is done, that many more younger pastors will know which table is most important to their ministry and influence.
Love and Peace.