My rent-a-reverend days are over. When I joined the faculty of a seminary a year ago, I was curious what it would feel like to sit in the pews on Sunday. I never found out. I've been in a different city almost every weekend serving as the guest preacher. For the longest time I couldn't figure out why I felt so clumsy in this important ministry.
The problem wasn't the hassles of flying. Nor was my complaint that every hotel room in the country looks and smells like loneliness. I didn't mind driving in strange cities, because at least the car was familiar. Every rental agency uses the same silver Taurus.
I finally uncovered the problem one Sunday after worship, when the host pastor stood about six feet away from me at the door of the church.
All the polite people were coming up to me to say something nice about the sermon. All the people who needed their pastor were lined up in front of the other guy. Some just wanted to hold his hand for a few seconds.
It hit me that it didn't really matter ...1