John Wesley famously said, “The world is my parish.” Wesley was responding to the constant restrictions he faced in preaching the gospel with territorial churches. I’d like to borrow Wesley’s famous phrase today.
With the rise of social media, I have noticed that many Christian leaders live to have the world as their parish. Much of ministry is lived on facebook, twitter, and other apps making videos and posting constant statuses. Yes, I know, it takes one to know one. There is a temptation for us as pastors to believe that all that time online boosts our platform so that we can accomplish more ministry. The more we network, the greater our name, the more people we reach. At least that is the logic I have used.
Don’t we post constantly making sure every hospital visit, every good thought, and every good work is seen? We humble brag for Jesus. We do this with church pages too. I mean if a good work is not posted on social media, does it really count?
What if we took a different approach to ministry? Instead of “the world is my parish,” what if we began pastoring where “my parish is my parish”? What if we began working to serve our people, our cities, and our neighbors without documenting it online? There is great godliness in serving in contentment where God has placed you – unfamous, forgotten, and faithful to your church.
What would happen if we sought only the pleasure of God from our works, not the pleasure of social media likes?
Doesn’t Jesus teach this?
“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. Otherwise, you have no reward with your Father in heaven. So whenever you give to the poor, don’t sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be applauded by people. Truly I tell you, they have their reward. But when you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
It seems the current mantra of every single church is diametrically opposed to the way Jesus taught us to work. We have all bought the lie as ministers and churches that platform building is a godly pursuit.
As I write this, I know I write these words as an indictment against myself. I am ready to give up the idolatry of social media platform building. My church does not need a famous pastor; they need a faithful pastor. Every church does. Would you join me in becoming unfamous, forgotten, and faithful to your church?
My parish is my parish.