Over at Indispensable Churches I have a comment or two on today’s meditation from the Henri Nouwen Society.  Here’s the link:

Indispensable Churches:  Focusing on the Poor

So often we pastors who are assigned to minister in these churches become tired and discouraged because we don’t “see any progress.” Our mailboxes (and email boxes) are flooded with mailings about seminars and conferences about the latest programs or technologies.  Pastors of churches larger and more “successful” than ours come around on speaking tours to tell us how they became “successful” and what we can do to be as “successful” as they were (if we only follow their recommendations exactly).  Even the district executive comes with his / her agenda as to how to make our congregation more successful, more “missional,” more “transformed.”  All operate on the premise that there is some way in which this Indispensable Church is not what it could be, and they have ways to make it better.

I suppose that works OK to a certain extent.  But here in Lodi at past Corn Festivals we’ve had a little contest called a Garden Tractor Pull.  Now a Tractor Pull works like this:  you get someone who soups up a standard farm tractor with a blown engine, supercharger, and whatever else he can think of to give that tractor more power that you can imagine.  He and a bunch of other guys and their super tractors get together, each to try to drag a huge sled filled with massive weights over a set distance.  The super tractor that drags the most weight over the longest distance wins.  A Garden Tractor Pull is just like that, only on a much smaller level.

The thing is, no matter how much you soup it up, a garden tractor is just a garden tractor.  It’s purpose is to mow the grass, to plow the garden, and to mulch leaves.  Not much more than that!  For the Pull you can get it to do things it wasn’t meant to do, but then it isn’t a garden tractor anymore – now it’s useless for mowing, plowing, and mulching.  Yet those things still need to be done, so what happens – you get another garden tractor for the mowing, plowing, and mulching.

Seems to me that in the church there are those who are building bigger and better tractors; and there are those who are bent on selling us all kinds of equipment to soup up garden tractors; and there are those who say “but we need something simple, plain, unremarkable – but indispensable! – to do the mowing, and the plowing, and the mulching.”