Once upon a time at a school long ago, I provided time each morning for the faculty to gather for devotions. They dutifully attended. I watched out the window as the pastor drove by, parked, and went to his office.
One day, I commented aloud, “I wonder why he doesn’t devote with us.”
A faculty knight in somewhat tarnished teacher armor responded, “Did you ever invite him to join us?”
After frantically trying to conjure a reasonable excuse, er, answer, I said emphatically, if one can whimper emphatically, “No, but this is the same pastor who never shows up for anything ‘school.’ Not even our adorable early childhood celebration or play night or …”
The knight’s voice persisted. “But you never invited him.”
I did what any seasoned principal would do. I went to my office and sulked. Invite the pastor to his own school’s events, even a five minute devotion? What if he says he just doesn’t want to be there? Or something about women leading devotions…. Or not all the faculty members are Lutheran. Why the insolence of that knight…. I forgot his armor. But alas, it finally sparkled through my deserved gloom. I had, indeed, never invited him.
This little story has a favorable ending. I invited the pastor. He smiled. Said he would be there. Also said he would have attended sooner except that he was unsure of his welcome. (He thought some of the teachers didn’t like him so much. He was right.)
Of course, the story could have ended differently. He simply could have said that he didn’t want to attend. Or, on the subject of school events, maybe he thought school affairs are school affairs and congregation affairs are congregation affairs and never the twain should meet. Besides there isn’t much ROI when it comes to actually putting persons in the pews. Even anticipating that scenario, invite him anyway. And invite him often. After all, he is the pastor of your congregation. All of it. Even if he might not like it.
Perhaps your charming personality and your invitation might not be enough, so here are a few points—motivations—you could employ.
- School events often provide opportunity to meet and greet larger numbers of people that you usually don’t get to meet and greet in a single setting. People should meet the pastor if for no other reason than it reminds them about the nature of your school. It also gives him a chance to learn about them and invite them to worship or learn more about Lutherans.
- Provide him with a platform that shows that you respect his ministry role. Introduce him at events. Ask him to lead an opening prayer and provide a closing benediction. People will at least acknowledge his role in the school’s ministry.
- Perhaps the greatest blessing—little kids will know him and maybe someday trust him for much needed support or comfort. No promises. Just unanticipated opportunities.
- Faculty will likely have similar reactions when he joins them as a colleague in prayer and devotion.
- You and others will be more likely to accept his expectations for your presence at congregation events. (Right?!)
Whatever might happen, consider your pastors presence a present!