Who in the world would respond to this ad?
WANTED: Person to fill position that involves important but undervalued work; exact job description unclear. Long hours; must work weekends and holidays. Low pay. Master’s degree required; doctorate preferred. Must be accomplished at multitasking, including running an organization without clear authority to do so. The successful candidate will be skilled as a public speaker, manager, politician, and therapist, and will devote significant time each week to pastoral visits. The position reports to multiple bosses.[L. Gregory Jones and Kevin R. Armstrong, Resurrecting Excellence: Shaping Faithful Christian Ministry (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2006), p. 26.]
However, doesn’t this posting capture your imagination?
WANTED: Persons for a vocation that leads God’s people in bearing witness to God’s new creation revealed in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Work schedule is shaped by relationships, focusing on what is important in people’s lives, and depends on regular rhythms of work, rest, and play. Compensation is shaped by a mutual discernment of what is necessary in order for the persons (and, where appropriate, their families) to have an appropriately well-lived life. The vocation involves cultivating holy dispositions, preaching and teaching, nurturing rigorous study, and shaping practices of faithful living in church and world. Lifelong education and formation is expected in order to enable others also to grow throughout their lives. The successful candidate will collaborate with others towards the same ends. The vocation reports to God.[Jones and Armstrong, p. 27.]
This is the church that God continually calls into being, in the mutual relationship of pastors and congregations alike. This is the kind of ministry people sign up for, the reason that men and women become pastors in the first place.