[Every Wednesday, we feature posts by Webster Hunt. You can find him on Twitter. If you don’t follow him on Twitter, you’re missing out. So don’t miss out.]
If you didn’t know, Frank Turk, infamous Menace Who Must Be Stopped according to careful, nuanced, and balanced blogs everywhere, has discontinued his (sorta) hiatus and has returned to blogging at TeamPyro AND begun blogging at Reformation 21 so that he can do all kinds of things “like ministry” now from two different fully operational battle stations. Read his fantastic piece at Ref21 here (http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2014/09/the-5th-horseman.php) and don’t forget to pop by TeamPyro today as he’s promised to bruise the raised, dainty pinkies of bloggers and readers alike and cause all types of hilarity to ensue. And all that is really a snarky metaphor to explain how he will be blogging like words actually mean things, and that the people reading your words will actually do something with them.
Some of the most profitable blogs I’ve read at TeamPyro have concerned the local church, and Dan Phillips rakes it in with this blog post (http://www.teampyro.blogspot.com/2014/09/a-word-of-advice-young-feller.html) about younguns listening to their elders, especially as it concerns things in the church, which coincidentally served a kind of one-two punch from those two.
Go ahead and read that one too. I’ll wait here.
Ok. So, assuming you’ve read at least Dan’s post at Pyro (extra credit for you go-getters who read Frank’s at Ref21 especially) let me get along with my post today so that I don’t look like some TeamPyro fanboy (which I am) trying to score some extra points with men I’ve never met in person to satisfy an unsavory substitution for real, actual, Godly relationships (which I’m not).
When I read Dan’s post, I thought of my friend Darin, an older man than me who is a member of the same local body that I am. We think a lot alike and get along together nicely. He totally gets my obsession with memes. He bikes often, which I started but stopped because he’s 20 years my senior and can fly past me like they’re a hyperdrive on that thing and all I’ve got is a Cuisinart.
But most importantly is what he’s been teaching to me by way of his own manner of life. Now, for reference, it’s no secret that I think highly of those men who write for TeamPyro. They’ve been heroes of mine for 8 years now, writing about things I’ve not heard a pastor talk about to his people until I joined this current local body. They contributed much to my growing in the knowledge of Jesus Christ and becoming more like Him. But, as I’ve said before in another post, they’re not my pastor. THEY’VE said it before. But it didn’t affect me until Darin said it. Here’s how it went down:
I was over at his house, and we were probably about to go on, or come back from a biking expedition (hey, 14 miles pedaling on a bicycle is torture to a man so out of shape as I) and I mentioned something I read at some blog somewhere. He was really gracious about it, and didn’t respond much to it, so I asked him why. He let me know that he’d done the same for some years, following this and that blogger, this and that nearly-famous name, but that one day he considered the fact that he didn’t know any of these guys aside from what they decided to put on the internet. And anyone can be anything on the internet, right?
These men who had written good things were not part of his local body. So I guess he had the same experience that I did with “paper pastors” – I’d read a very good and needful thing, and it resonated in my memory banks, but it didn’t quite flesh out until I was looking into the eyeballs of another man who was graciously letting me know that I’d gotten it wrong. The men in those blogs, some of them good, functioning members of local bodies, some of them good, Christ-exalting pastors of local bodies, weren’t the flesh-and-blood men and women that would see me inside and outside of normal congregational worship times. They weren’t the ones that God has installed into the Christ-exalting, gospel-preaching local body that I’d decided to join in the whole orb of the function of the local body. When I read a blog, I consume it, I chew on it, it bounces around in my brain, but can I make the argument that it’s anywhere near the same as my pastor laboring to teach the bit of people he’s in charge of the ins and outs of Scripture, laboring to present Christ in His word in all of his unchanging glory? Of course not! And in the defense of good bloggers everywhere, they would (and few have) said the very same thing.
And so my friend instructed me on a point that I now try to labor in the time that Dave gives me to write here at this blog: You don’t know that disembodied blogger – or perhaps even this one. You know your local members. Put more weight in those members whose life and words reflect the holiness that Christ perfects in His saints that are in your local body than the blogger who writes for your edification, to the end that you do that very thing. I thank God that he has given a place for bloggers in the Kingdom to do things “like ministry” for those who are in a lukewarm body, for those deceived into heresy, for those still immature who need a blogger they look up to to tell them to pay more attention to their local pastors. But they don’t take the place of those pastors – as Frank pointed out, the church that Jesus was talking about in Matthew 16 was an actual assembly of people, not a theoretical, disembodied one. A disembodied body – have we covered that oxymoron yet?
I’m thankful for Darin, and men like him, for taking the time to make important things clear, for living those things out, for inviting young men like me to be your friend, and (Darin specifically) praise God that you honor Christ with your way of life. Such love! Wow leadership! Very discipling! (He’ll get that).