I've heard Tony Campolo speak enough to know you're in trouble when he takes off his glasses and squints his eyes so tight they disappear into his skull. At that moment his brain is loading a spiritual bombshell into his mouth and preparing it for delivery. Campolo's bombs found their target on Wednesday night at the National Pastors Convention is San Diego.
He formed his talk around a sociological study (Campolo is a sociologist by training) conducted with people over the age of 95. The survey asked them, if you could do life over again what would you do differently? Most responses fell into three categories:
1. Reflect more
2. Risk more
3. Do more that will live on after I'm gone
While each of his points were powerful, I was especially impacted by Campolo's exhortation that church leaders take up their prophetical calling to be the opinion shapers of the culture - a calling that always involves risk.
Campolo spoke about the Old Testament roles of priest and prophet. The priests cared for the people, comforted them, and blessed them. The prophets, on the other hand, lived in the hills, came down to make everyone angry, and then went back to the hills. They were the troublemakers.
But we pastors have a problem. We are called to be both priests and prophets. That means, says Campolo, that we are called to "comfort the troubled, and trouble the comfortable." Although this appears to be a contradiction, Campolo was insistent that we can and must do both. He says "it's the work of the pastor that legitimates the work of the prophet." By caring and loving our people we win the right to speak the hard truth into their lives.
What is the hard truth we need to be prophetically declaring? Campolo (glasses removed and squinted eyes buried ...