When the Dogs are Barking

A good friend of mine, Bishop Paul Leeland, says, “When the caravan is moving, the dogs are barking.” As we have wrestled with appointments and are going through transition at the Conference office, I am reminded of Bishop Leeland’s pointed phrase.  It is one thing to know intellectually that Christendom is over, that we live in a post-denominational world.  Of this much we are clear.  Yet the struggle of wanting to operate as if that is not the case is still present.  Pastors walk a delicate balance of guiding and challenging their churches to serve Christ in new ways in a new age and yet still minister to those who signed on in the old order.  It is not easy.  Recently I visited with a layman who has, by any measurement I know, an excellent pastor and yet wants him/her moved because they have introduced too much change.  I think I can get in touch with the fears this man expresses.  Yet I know, if these changes don’t take place, if the church does not engage in new ministry reaching out to a new generation, it will die.  Jesus has it right.  “For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.” (Mark 8:35) The dogs are barking and the caravan is moving.  It is both glorious and tough at the same time.