Written by guest contributor Mr. Justin Williams – Master of Theology student in the Campbellsville University School of Theology
I’ve been in the ministry for almost 7 years now. Next to being a teacher and husband, this is probably the best thing that has ever happened to me and is a source of joy, pride, and stress all at one time.
There truly is no feeling greater than getting up and standing in the power and presence of God to deliver His Word to people who need to hear and feel something that is greater and more powerful than themselves. But, I have somewhat of a confession to make… It’s not all as easy as some of us make it look.
I hear the wheels of your head spinning. So, let me help you understand what I mean. From a very early age, I was ‘hooked on drugs’. Yes, I was drug to Bible Study; drug to prayer meeting; drug to Sunday School and any other church service or event that was typical in the Black church tradition.
Needless to say, I was- and still am- a ‘churchboy’. This meant that I was exposed to much of the stereotypical characters of the church, including the black preacher.
Stereotypically, the black preacher was fiery, full of fervor, somewhat well-dressed (depending upon whether or not he/she was from the north or deep south), and could whoop like nobody’s business.
Yet, there were the negative stereotypes as well. Greedy, fat, uncouth to a certain degree, and flirtatious.
Still, the majority of what I saw growing up fell into the former category and not the later.
On top of all that, God had the audacity to call my mom into the preaching ministry, which now meant that my siblings and I had to assume another moniker, “preacher’s kids.” Needless to say, at least one of us was bound to follow in these sacred footsteps. Furthermore, I bit that bullet!
Since being brought up in the closed doors and back doors of the preaching world, I have come to the realization that the deck is stacked against anyone who describes themselves as “called” to the preaching ministry.
You have to deal with the cliques, isms and schisms, and temptations of what I have begun to call The Industry. Behind the Sunday morning façade, there is a world that many people do not know of. What used to be seen as a noble profession and calling has become a caricature of what I believe it originally was.
Many of the headlines of recent years confirm exactly what I am feeling. From sex scandals to fraud and embezzlement, it is no wonder that many people would prefer to stay in the world than to come into the embrace of the local and ecumenical church.
Despite all this, I dare venture to say that there are still some people, like me, who believe in the power and efficacy of the preached Word. There are still some who do not mind holding up the blood-stained banner for truth, love, and righteousness. There is still a remnant that exists among the broken and scattered pieces of the Kingdom.
Therefore, it is incumbent upon me to sound the clarion call to all those who are maintaining the Kingdom in remarkable and unimaginable ways. Now is the time for us to come together and do the real work of MINISTRY. There is a cry in the land for more relationship and less religion. The time for just ‘having church’ is now over.
I have come to the realization that authentic ministry is now being done in unconventional ways. Though the Word remains the same, the methods and tools of ministry are different and have an almost instantaneous global affect. With the advent of social media and other instant sharing platforms, the propagation of the Gospel has reached a level of exposure that has never been seen before.
That being said, I have resolutely decided that preaching just ain’t easy. I know that that was improper grammar. But, it was a necessary colloquialism to express a sentiment that could only be understood with the eloquence of ebonics. There is pressure to be relevant, engaging, and holy all at one time. Additionally, you have to avoid the pitfalls and traps that are set for you by the trap kings and queens.
Now, more than any other time, I believe that preachers and church leaders must strive for impeccability in public as well as in private. With the world losing respect for the church, impeccability should be at the forefront of pastoral care and functioning.
Don’t get me wrong. Not at any point did I think that ministry would be easy- in any sense of the word. I think what is more important is that now I see exactly how complicated the call can be. There is always a balance between being trendy and being true to one’s self; being used and doing unusual ministry. We as preachers and leaders have to be careful to still maintain the efficacy of the Gospel to save, heal, and deliver while balancing alternative forms of ministry in a world and time where gimmicks are everything!