The Beards of Ministry
I think it’s important for Christians to laugh at themselves every once in a while. Sure, the Gospel is no joking matter, but if Stuff Christians Like has taught us anything, it’s that Christians are still prone to all the foolishness and eccentricity of being human. We’re people of our time, influenced by place and culture as much as the next person. This isn’t a bad thing, Christ’s message of love and redemption is meant for all people, but it can affect the way we present that message. Needless to say, some approaches are more amusing than others.
One example would be a recent Patheos blog entitled The Beards of Ministry, a humorous take on facial hair behind the pulpit. The idea is that pastors should tailor their beards to whatever audience they are trying to engage. A few of the entries include,
- The Guru Goatee – Statistics sound best when spoken through the gentle curtain of this gem. Urbane, but not foppish; neat, but with a slight “bad boy” flair, it brings that Palo Alto panache without too much West Coast relaxation.
- The Post-Evangelical Stubble – This “10 o’clock shadow” is more than a statement, it is an implicit philosophical challenge to the entire Evangelical tribe. For too long, we have put pastors in boxes. This casual spattering of hair is both noncommittal and a needed reaction against the absurd, varnished forms of “how it’s all been thought about”.
- The Angry Whiskers – This beard loves you, but it will never, ever like you. Pair ONLY AND ALWAYS WITH A 1611 AUTHORIZED VERSION OF THE KING JAMES BIBLE. DOESN’T KNOW HOW TO TURN OFF CAPS LOCK.
It’s a funny article, and oddly enough, it showcases one of the major challenges facing pastors today. I’m not talking about facial hair, I’m talking about relevance. The world is moving very fast, and many pastors are having trouble getting others to listen above the noise. Some believe the best thing a pastor can do is adapt their ministry (change their look), while others insist on rigidly staying the course. Christian blogger Daniel Darling believes what pastors should really be focusing on is scriptural honesty.
Without engaging the hard questions, Darling argues, the message of Jesus falls apart. He continues by saying,
“Preaching styles do differ, but it's hard to argue the unmistakable responsibility of pastors to take the whole counsel of God and preach it faithfully. To not give our people spiritual food, to not share with them the ‘all the things I have commanded you’ is to commit spiritual malpractice. It's to intentionally leave our people spiritually malnourished. And yet there is a temptation for pastors--I remember facing this weekly as a pastor--to sort of skip over or nuance the very hard passages. Or, more popularly, to not preach through issues that are at the tip of the cultural spear.”
These are important questions to ask, and it can be frustrating when there are no easy answers. However, we can still take heart. Just as Paul wrote in the book of Philippians, regardless of the means, the Gospel is still being preached.