I’m afraid to say Jesus probably wouldn’t have been allowed to be your pastor because he didn’t do programs. Our contemporary American Church has fallen in love with programs. The more quality programs we offer, the more likely people are to come to our church. The programming infatuation is at its core is an attractional model of doing church with the goal to draw in as many people as possible. If that’s the case in your church, then Jesus would have been an absolute failure.
You see, as I read the gospels Jesus didn’t start or run any programs. He wasn’t worried about numbers. He didn’t care about being popular. He was driven by quality of relationship rather than quantity of consumers. In fact, when Jesus felt like people were just showing up and following him around because they wanted to get free dinner and show (aka be a part of events like the feeding of the 5,000 and watch Jesus heal the sick and the demon possessed) he did something crazy. He intentionally said really difficult things to drive people away. Jesus didn’t want any posers. He wanted people who were serious.
Because Jesus didn’t have to worry about the maintenance of a big building, keeping up the Organ and running the day-to-day business of a large organization he was free to do other things. So what did he do? He invested in people. He spent almost all of his time doing life with ordinary people, and a lot of them were very lost people. Ask your pastor at some point how much of their week they spend actually being with congregants doing discipleship. I would be willing to bet that it’s a very small percentage of their time. Now ask them how much time they intentionally spend with non-believers as a part of their ministry. I am willing to bet it’s almost zero.
So what do we make of this? Well, it seems to me that Jesus was working with a very different ministry model than we find in most churches today. Jesus went deep with just a few people instead of being generally superficial with a ton of people. He was absolutely crazy about people and not nearly as worried about the established structure of religion. He didn’t play games and pretend to be somebody he wasn’t just so people would come and listen to him. He was authentic and raw. He made people angry and was controversial, but not so that he could get attention. He did it because he loved them enough to tell them what t they needed to hear and not just what they wanted to hear.
What would it look like if pastors and churches took Jesus’ ministry model more seriously? How would you deal with a pastor who didn’t care about numbers and prestige and refused to placate you with comfortable moral sayings but dug into the guts of your being and made you profoundly uncomfortable? I’d love to hear your thoughts.