Todd quotes Eugene Peterson (who then quotes Thomas Merton):
The congregation is not the enemy. Pastoral work is not adversarial. These people in the pews are not aliens to be conquered – defeated and then rehabilitated to the satisfaction of the pastoral ego. Thomas Merton wrote, “it is both dangerous and easy to hate man as he is because he is not ‘what he ought to be.’ if we do not first respect what he is we will never suffer him to become what he ought to be: in our impatience we will do away with him altogether… and the congregation is not stupid and lumpish, waiting for pastoral enlightenment. Condescension in pastors is even worse than hostility.
Todd goes on to say,
Remember that old saying, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life”… Sometimes I think pastors take the approach, “Your Pastor loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” Too bad pastor’s aren’t quite as accurate with those plans as the Holy Spirit is.
Our congregations aren’t stupid. At least, not any more than the pastor is!
Remember, the Spirit of God is among the people of God.
One of David Hayward’s brilliant cartoons seems appropriate here: