by John Armstrong
Spectrums, you have heard of them. They are used in every field of study from the natural sciences to sociology, psychology, and the like. It has become popular to refer to some people as “being on the spectrum.” That usually applies to people we think are somewhere on the autism spectrum, meaning they could be very high functioning to very low functioning. You have probably heard people refer to the “political spectrum” referring to progressives on the left and conservatives on the right. You can devise spectrums for any number of things. I’m interested in spectrums nowadays because they have everything to do with leadership in the church. They always have because depending on what category of spectrum you are dealing with, there are going to be people in the church that are represented on that spectrum. Think about the people you know in church. We have people who are mature and those who are immature. As you hear that, are you thinking in terms of age? Are you thinking in terms of spiritual development? It doesn’t take much to see that it is vitally important how you define your spectrum, otherwise the information it gives is not very helpful. I’ve known some people who were very mature in terms of age, but not mature at all in terms of spiritual development. So, at this point you may be asking,why am I making such a big deal about spectrums if they can be so confusing? Your church leaders (the elders and deacons) have to make decisions and try to lead all the people in the church, and all the people inthe church are spread across the length and breadth of all kinds of different spectrums. As we find ourselves in the midst of this pandemic, in the midst of an environment that is becoming more and more politically divisive, the church is being strained and her leaders too are strained. We hear all the critiques to the decisions we make. There are those who say we are too aggressive and cavalier, we put people in danger of contracting illness, by the decision to open up for worship. At the same time, there are those who think we are foolish and cowardly for not doing more to return us to “normal” function as the church. Let me assure you that your church officers are well aware of the risks we face, and at the same time, the privileges that we have chosen to forego for a time. We are also well aware that we cannot satisfy everyone in the congregation, nor are we interested in doing so. Do we want you to be happy? Of course we do. Are we going to make decisions based on your happiness? No, absolutely not. We make decisions based on what we believe the Lord would have us do in accordance with the Scriptures. Since the sheep of any flock can be found on a spectrum of abilities, you have to ask yourself why does the shepherd then lead the flock from the front? The shepherd leads the flock from the front because he sets the pace for the flock. Could the shepherd lead the sheep as hard and as fast as he is capable of going? Yes, he could. What would happen to those sheep who can’t keep up? They get left behind and as stragglers are subject to being attacked by predators or simply exhausted by the effort of trying to keep up. The job of the shepherd is to get the whole flock to green pastures and clear water. That means he should keep a pace that will, for some of the sheep, be difficult, but doable, while other sheep may get antsy because the pace isn’t fast enough for them. The sheep who think they are strong and want to run ahead, run into the same kinds of problems as stragglers. They are just stragglers in reverse. They are sheep without a shepherd and therefore they are vulnerable.It is important for the flock to stay together. In this time that we find ourselves, we have so many different factors seeking to pull us apart. It is hard to stay together. It takes sacrifice and discipline, but what has the Lord ever asked of His church that doesn’t? In all things we are called to die to ourselves and live unto righteousness, to live following Jesus our Good Shepherd. The under-shepherds of Christ (elders) here at Faith Church are not perfect, we err, and we struggle to know what is best. We covet your prayers and your patience as we seek to walk a very fine line trying to keep the flock together for the glory of Christ.