Vol.X No.VI Pg.2
August 1973

Little Old Ladies

Robert F. Turner

Many churches have some dear old lady, converted late in life, who persists in introducing the preacher as my Pastor. You can preach on the role of the preacher, the meaning of pastor and its proper application to each of the overseers, and you can quote the Greek. You may get so far as to confuse the aged sister, but chances are she will smile sweetly or nod her head— and at her next introduction, again call you my Pastor.

Dont flip your lid, denounce her publicly, or threaten disfellowship. Calmly ask yourself why she does it. She spent most of her life in a religious institution where the man who occupied the pulpit was called The Pastor. Your explanation about shepherds of the flock may be counteracted by the fact that she sees in the role of shepherd —prominent public role, coordinator and director of practically every church function in which she has a part, and the one who came to teach her about the word pastor. Perhaps she has little reason to think of others as the pastors of that flock. (Hmmmm!!)

The years have dulled her perception, and in the self-consciousness of a formal introduction she falls back upon familiar terms. Even if she knows (so she could repeat the facts) about the meaning of "pastor, she does not know this in the sense that it is her own —a part of her thinking process, modifying her life. Be gentle with her, and patient. Remember that she is a child —in Bible understanding. Look for different ways to instruct —new illustrations. Ask one of her close friends to help.

And do not think for one moment that I have written this for little old ladies alone. Nor am I overly concerned about someone calling me their pastor. The church is filled with little old ladies, and men, of all ages who are confused about pastors, baptismal formulas, the Lords Supper, fellowship, institutionalism, Holy Spirit, and you name it. Many of them, of whatever age, are just as much babes in need of patient, loving attention, as any little old lady you ever tried to teach.

There are two main routes to take. You may indoctrinate them in our terminology —by intimidation, weight of numbers, party loyalty, preacher adulation, etc., —so that they talk like all good Church-of-Christers; or, you may accept the slow, difficult, and often failing task of really teaching them the truth. The first is the easier course —and produces sectarianism par excellence. In the second, you travail in birth until Christ be formed in them. (Gal. 4:19)