In a nutshell, that’s what our pastors have to do. Keep their ears to the ground. Know the condition of their flocks. Take care of souls. Yet, they also need to look beyond their church buildings to what’s happening on the street outside.
Just this week, I heard how a U.S. pastor initiated outreach to Muslim refugees in a large metro area, but sadly this was at the expense of his parishioners. The result? People left the church. Those who remained closed their wallets in protest. The church is in crisis. He lost his job. And now he’s struggling to sell his house.
Why did this happen? He failed to keep his ears to the ground inside the church and watch what was happening outside the church doors.
While this is tragic, both for the pastor and his parish, it’s also instructive. As parishioners, we need to pray for our pastors and priests. We need to pray for the congregation to understand the opportunities for witness and ministry to refugees, immigrants and international students at their backdoor. We need to pray our leaders have vision and wisdom.
Also, we need to recognize the relevance and wisdom of Paul’s letters to pastors nearly 2000 years ago. Yes, it’s true, for example, that Paul urged Timothy to “do the work of an evangelist” (2 Tim 4:5), but not at the expense of honoring widows “who are truly widows” (1 Tim 5:3).