In large churches, this is the season when the Senior Pastor is the featured preacher throughout the most prominent holiday services. (The Sunday after Christmas – like the Sunday after Easter – is one of the high holy days of Associate Pastors.) Senior Pastors gets paid the big bucks for being The Face of the Church.
In denominations with hierarchies, the face of the institution is The Bishop or the Conference Executive or the General Presbyter. These are the folks who represent The Organization, The Institution, The Congregations.
In the 21st Century Church, the face of the congregation or organization cannot be one person. Yes, perhaps we need someone to represent us at community events or ecumenical activities or interfaith occasions. But in the 21st Century Church, our face has many representations.
A growing community is one in which the whole community is its face. The community must reach out. The community must offer hospitality and pastoral care. The community must understand the connection between worship and mission. The community must speak for the community. No longer is the face a single individual.
Imagine this for a moment.
It used to be true that churches called pastors who were excellent representations or hopes of themselves. We called pulpit candy – good looking pastors (usually male) who looked good and spoke well and offered impressive resumes so that we – the congregation – felt accomplished and smart ourselves. We called a pastor with a stellar pedigree which must mean that we have stellar pedigrees to have called such a pastor.
Friends, this can no longer be true. If our congregations or organizations are going to thrive in a post-Christendom culture, we need to take responsibility for our spiritual identities. We must no longer be wholly pastor-centered, expecting the person with the seminary degree to be the professional Christian in our midst. We must no longer relinquish our own calling and gifts.
Who is the true face of our congregation? We are.
Who represents our congregation or organization to the world? We do.