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From the Editor -
Patricia Sheets
We are the Church
Featured Article
ChurchNeither Did Jesus!
By Pat Sheets

Four years ago, my husband, Jack, told me that God was leading him into the ministry. I assured him it was just a mix-up. "All those cell phone waves shooting through the air are probably interfering with your prayer reception. Most likely, youíve picked up a message that was intended for Billy Graham," I assured him.

I thought my scientific explanation would put the notion to rest, but one by one a series of events evolved, lending credence to Jackís claim. There was no denying that God was indeed calling him into the ministry. I decided it was time to go straight to the source of the problem.

"Hi, God. Itís me, Pat. Listen, about this ĎJack the Preacherí thing Ö I donít think itís a good idea. He wouldnít make a good preacher, because he watches football. Now, God, Iím sure You donít want someone preaching who watches such violence. And last week, he ran a stop sign! You canít have a law breaker in the pulpit! Oh, and he doesnít like cats! Just last week he wouldnít let me bring home a stray, just because we already have three dogs! How can someone who hates Your innocent creatures speak of Your love?"

My lame prayer seemed to be bouncing off the ceiling, so I ended my whining session and turned on the television. Flipping through the channels, I came upon a pastor who was speaking about submission. There beside him was his dutiful wife, dressed to perfection and wearing a smile that looked like it may have been ordered from "Grin and Bear It, Incorporated".
Fearlessly Facing Change
By Thom Mollohan

Recently I had lunch with a friend who now ministers to ministers and helps church congregations in the eastern part of our state. As we visited together, he described the extent and rate of cultural change, not only in American society at large but the church also, as being, "white water change." The more I thought about it, the more accurate a phrase I consider it to be.

Whether we like it or not, the world is changing and with it, our churches are changing. As new church families (a.k.a. congregations) are being birthed in our area, and as a new generation emerges within the ranks of established churches, it is an era of renewed sense of calling and the establishment of renewed resolve to experience God at work in our lives, our homes and our community.

With all of this being expressed in the churchís "reinventing itself" (though it is really God Who "reinvents" His people), one can easily feel as if he or she is being swept wildly out of control down the swirling rapids of change. Some of this change is physical as in the building of a new facility, but some of it is "programmatic," as a congregation seeks to engage its surrounding neighborhood in new ways.

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I suddenly realized that my problem was not with Jack being in the ministry. My problem was with ME being in the ministry! There was no way I could be "The Pastorís Wife".

Pastorís wives are supposed to wear dresses, bake cookies, and be nice to people, even the ones they donít like. They are supposed to agree with their husbands and sing in the choir. Pastors need a wife with the spirit of Mother Theresa. I tend to be more like a saved Rose-Anne Barr.

I made my mind up that I would talk to Jack and let him know exactly how I felt. That night after dinner, I was ready to lay it all on the line, but Jack scammed me. Before I could get out a word, he dropped the bomb that he had been asked to lead the early worship service at church on a regular basis!

"And who put that thought in your head! Have you been eavesdropping on Billy Graham again?" I scolded.

Jack explained that he truly felt God calling him to preach. "This is not my will, but Godís," he claimed. I, however, was still not convinced and decided to test his resolve.

As he dressed for his first Sunday in the pulpit, I thought it might be interesting to see how well Jack took criticism. "Let me help you pick out a shirt," I offered, knowing he is color blind. I chose a white shirt that had accidentally been laundered with a red sock and paired it with a purple tie.

"Oops! Thereís a spot on your black suit. Why donít you try this one?" I handed him a lime-green suit someone had been given to me for the church rummage sale. Several minutes later, Jack emerged from the bedroom looking like the Grinch dressed for the opera.

When we arrived at church, a kid with a red Mohawk ran to meet us. "Way cool, Dude!" he said to Jack, admiring the ensemble. "Wish my old man would dress like that! I canít wait to hear your sermon!"

It appeared my plan had backfired, but I considered it a minor setback. I raced to the sanctuary and secured a seat on the front pew. When Jack began preaching, I took a small mirror from my purse. Tilting the mirror towards the window, I was able to catch a beam of sunlight and reflect it straight into Jackís eyes. He moved to dodge the flash, but I caught another ray and zapped him again. As I was focusing the mirror for a third attack, I felt someone touch my arm.

"Do you mind if I borrow your mirror? I got chocolate donut caught in my braces." I handed the mirror over to the pleading youngster, thus ending the war.

After the service, I overhead someone comment, "Jack, you were wonderful! It was almost like I could see a heavenly light shining down on you as you preached!"

Having once again failed, I decided to give prayer one more try.

"God, itís me again. Jack claims that You have called him to preach, but thereís so many reasons why He shouldnít. For starters, he has no formal training!"

God answered in a soft whisper, "Neither did Jesus."

"God, he doesnít have money, or time, or his own church!"

God whispered again, "Neither did Jesus."

"But God, most of all, he doesnít have a polished, sophisticated, spiritually mature wife to help him."

Once again God said, "Neither did Jesus."

As I contemplated Godís words, I realized that it is not within our own power that we become ministers of the Gospel. God does not require a certain amount of education, money, or polish. What He is asking, however, is that we trust His calling and, in the face of all odds, rely solely on His wisdom and understanding.

Here I am, four years later and officially "The Pastorís Wife." I still struggle with the title, but Jack and I both know that I will never fit the typical mold. I donít have to, because, neither did Jesus.
Pat Sheets is a freelance writer with an offbeat sense of humor. She lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia, with the three men in her life: Jack, her husband, is a pastor. Duncan and Barkley are pound-saved mutts but none-the-less, her "boys".