As the daughter, sister, and wife of four ordained pastors (not to mention my own ordination, marking four successive generations of 12 ministers and missionaries), my interest in the history of the clergy is hardly surprising. While observing pastors past and present, I’m always struck by how the unique challenges of ministry persist over time. Yet often our forebears had it worse—much worse. There’s nothing like a glance back to help put your ministry into perspective and to provide a little levity to lighten the load. With that in mind, here are ten things to remember from church history when you’ve had a bad day in ministry.
1. When you decide to run errands in your sweats and awkwardly bump into one of your congregants at the store …
Remember Esaïe Gasc.
In 1773, Pastor Gasc made the questionable decision of wearing the costume of a dragon to a popular festival in the city of Geneva. After marching with the crowd in his dragon costume, he addressed the public with fanfare. Apparently, it was quite a thing to behold! When the Company of Pastors received word of his attire, he was reprimanded for behavior unbefitting a Genevan pastor and led to promise that he would never wear such a thing in public again.
2. When after months of interviews and after delivering your candidacy sermon, the congregation decides not to call you to the church …
Remember David Croppet.
In 1644, Croppet was nominated by the Company of Pastors to the country church of Jussy, but his nomination was rejected by the congregation. According to sources, this incident is the only time in 300 years of Genevan church history that this happened. So, be glad you’re not known in history for that!
3. When your building project hits a snag with the local zoning board and city council …
Remember Robert Dunant.
After training in Geneva, Dunant accepted a position as pastor of the Reformed French Church in St. Petersburg, Russia. Over the course of 18 years, he worked tirelessly to advance the ministry there. In 1732, he spent a year traveling in Switzerland and Britain to raise funds in order to build a church, and his campaign was successful. Soon after the church was built, Empress Anna decreed that buildings along the river where Dunant’s church was located must be made out of either brick or stone. Unfortunately, the church he had built was made out of wood and had to be torn down.
4. When someone discovers you’re pursuing a sideline to make a little extra income …
Just be grateful you’re not Pierre Clement.
Clement was living on the meager wages of a mission pastor in France and began to write comedies for the Parisian theater in order to supplement his income. Because the Company of Pastors was outspoken regarding the moral corruption of the theater, Clement was instructed in correspondence to stop his activity, which was considered unworthy of his position as a Genevan minister. Clement informed the Company that he would stop, but soon after, the Company discovered that he had in fact gone ahead and published a comedy. He was stripped of his ordination.
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SOURCE: Christianity Today
Jennifer Powell McNutt