We know what people were taught in church yesterday. But do we know what our congregations will be being taught for the rest of the week. There is a huge danger as pastors in becoming an island emote from the rest of society. We live and work with our bibles in the church and the danger is we become blissfully unaware of what it’s like in the world. The pressure faced by those in school, secular work, in the neighbourhood in unbelieving families. The stories and narratives that shape how they think and how they approach the Bible and God.
Pastors and church leaders we need to get our heads of out of the sand. Jesus was acutely aware that there were other teachers who had an influence on his disciples, that’s why again and again he warns his disciples ‘beware of’ as well as teaching them what he taught them. That’s why he spent time counteracting the other teaching they heard, that would shape how they heard his teaching, even leading them to mishear his teaching.
How aware are we of what our teens will be being taught today in school? What values they are being taught are most important? What norms they are being expected to learn to have to be a contributing member of society? What about our primary aged children? Are we aware of what they are being taught about their identity and about right and wrong?
Then think of those in the workplace. What norms are they expected to live by as they work? And what are the unacceptable beliefs they must not share no matter what? What are the things they are free to hold privately but which must never be expressed during work hours?
It is all too easy to become distant from those pressures. It is a tremendous privilege to be set aside to pastor and teach God’s people. But we must do so from alongside our people, in the trenches with them not distantly far behind the lines. How can you do that? Why not meet regularly with people and ask those questions? Where do they feel those pressures? Maybe we could volunteer to go into the office or workplace a day a month? Or serve in a volunteer capacity in an organisation so that we experience the same pressures?