Bugs in the system and the sovereignty of God

The last few weeks we have had trouble with our live stream. I think I have gotten to the bottom of it. There has been a lot of fiddling with sound equipment, faffing around with mobile apps and conversations with developers. But I think, finally, we have isolated it.

As I was doing this, I was reminded once again of all the various things that I didn’t enter pastoral ministry to do. Of course, the obvious solution here is to find someone else to do it. Pastors aren’t employed to faff around with mobile apps and sound equipment; get someone else to figure it out. Which sounds nice, but one has to have people around with the requisite skills and available time to figure it out.

One of the realities of small church life is that often the people you might like simply aren’t around to help. I would love someone who understands all about sound equipment and mobile software. But we don’t have a ready supply of such people. The choice is to figure it out myself or accept that we won’t have a live stream. Which, in many ways, would be fine. But not ideal.

The thing is, the issue is not limited to live streams. It extends to all sorts of things. Most people (or so I am told) get into pastoral ministry because they want to help people grow up in Christ. They want to teach the Bible, to see people discipled and equipped to disciple others. But the realities of a lot of ministry is that you end up doing all sorts that – whilst potentially useful or helpful – are ultimately not that.

Deacons, of course, exist for this very thing. But whilst there might be other hands available to do some of the work, not everybody is able to do everything. It is no good putting the bloke who can’t figure out how to turn a computer on in charge of sorting out the church website. A guy who is excellent at helping with the church building might have absolutely no clue when it comes to the church finances. The person who can cover off a treasurers role might struggle when it comes to dealing with solicitors. Just because you have hands available doesn’t mean those particular hands can resolve every conceivable matter. Some of those things are matters I could cover off; some of them are not. And sometimes, the hands just aren’t available at all.

Which inevitably means we have choices to make. We have to decide what is possible rather than worrying about everything we might like to do. We have to prioritise what we think is important and focus on those things first. And whilst we may be able to do some of those things, we have to accept that we simply may not be able to do everything that other churches can do. We may make different choices to them on what to prioritise, we may have different people available that limits what is possible, we may simply not want to do certain things we are free to do or otherwise. And all that is okay.

I was talking with a friend yesterday about God’s sovereignty and how so-called “failure” may be no such thing. In the same way, I believe God is sovereign over those he has given to us in the church. He has given them the particular skills they have and the specific personalities they do for his own good purposes. If he hasn’t blessed us with people who can do this, that or the other, the Lord in his sovereignty has obviously determined we don’t need them and they are not so important for us. And we should be entirely alright with that. Whatever the thing is we might like to do, Jesus has determined we don’t need it and we can get on honouring and glorifying him and doing the good works he has prepared for us entirely without it. If we really believe that, who really cares if the live stream fails in the end?