My Apologies

Gaylon Embrey

Evidently several outstanding groups were inadvertently left out of the article on "The Age of Specialization." (The Examiner, September, 1987.) My apologies are extended. At the time I felt sure I had thought of every minority group in the Brotherhood presently struggling along without a Minister of its very own. It now turns out there are other groups I neglected to mention. This was inexcusable on my part, particularly since these disciples are far too noticeable not to notice. How I overlooked them I cannot imagine. In any event, no special interest group in a congregation should be left Minister-less. Therefore Church leaders today need to add the following Ministers to their growing staff.

FAT MINISTERS. Now please don't take this lightly. Is it not a fact that in every sizable congregation there are a number of sizable saints? Can you think of a group wrestling with a larger problem? Or anyone more discriminated against? Yet at the moment most Churches do not take their burden seriously. Seems like I did hear a while back (probably just a vicious rumor) that a few progressive congregations have started aerobic classes for the faithful fat who enroll in their Family Life Center. To be honest, I have not weighed any of their members in and out to see if this rumor is true. Anyway, even if it is, I doubt they have a special staff Officer called "The Minister of the Fat" specifically assigned to this weighty problem. These Churches need to correct this oversight. One thing sure, the "denominational Churches" have already proven that similar programs are effective. A few weeks ago, in fact, I came across a solicitation from an enterprising company offering "an exciting new diet program for believers." (Presumably this diet will not work on fat sinners.) According to the sales pitch, this "3D" program of Discipline, Discipleship and DIET has already been used by over 12,000 Churches in Christendom. Since we of the Churches of Christ get most of our good ideas from the denominations anyway, surely this one deserves consideration. But may I offer a word of advice to Church leaders contemplating a "Minister of the Fat"? In selecting an appropriate Minister to fill this spot on the roster, overall body weight should be the largest consideration. Certainly a skinny Minister will never do. Fat Christians definitely need a Fat Minister to teach them the great truths about temperance, self-control and such like. In any case, without having a "Minister" of their own size and shape to "minister" to them, how can the heavyweight Christians among us ever hope to cope?

UGLY MINISTERS. Now don't frown at this idea. Excess weight is by no means the only problem that some Church members have to face every morning. What about those dear disciples who are ugly? I mean UGLY! Don't they deserve attention? Yes, a few extra pounds in the wrong place may be "ugly fat;" but please bear in mind that slender saints can have the "uglies" also. And for those severely afflicted, being ugly can turn out to be worse than being short, left-handed, bald, or even fat for that matter. Church leaders, I fear, have ignored these ugly duckling disciples too long. With incredible insensitivity they have sought, found and filled the pulpits with handsome preachers groomed as Dick Clark look a-likes. Oh, now and then a preacher with a mild case of ugliness has been able to slip into a prestigious pulpit. But not very often. For the most part the homely preachers have either been cut from the squad or sent to the minor leagues. They are just not able to relate to the "beautiful people" in the pews, or vice versa. This makes for an ugly situation, if you will pardon the pun. Just think of how all the ducklings out there feel having to face a pretty preacher every Sunday. Horrors! By all rights, shouldn't ugly Christians be provided with an ugly Minister? Why not? Don't the young have one of their own kind? I believe if Churches would just take the time, they could scout around (perhaps in the minor leagues) and eventually locate plenty of preachers ugly enough to qualify for this important new "ministry." Again, don't make fun of this. We can preach all we want to about "the beauty of holiness" but this just won't cut it in a society more impressed with "the beauty of Hollywood."

MINISTERIAL MINISTERS. This is no doubt the Minister to end all Ministers, the Minister who "ministers" to the rest of the Ministers. Think about this. Are Ministers real people? Do real people have problems? Don't Ministers need to be "ministered" to, too? Yet, as yet, no Church among us has a "Minister to the Ministers." This is rather strange. I can easily see how some of the other groups mentioned might be ignored by the modern Church, since they are low profile minorities, usually unorganized and powerless. Such is not the case with the "Ministers" in a Church. In the typical metropolitan Church today the "staff" of special Ministers is the most unique, most distinct, most notable group in the congregation. They are high profile, up front and center, on the letterhead, in the weekly announcements, etc. How could they possibly be overlooked? There may very well be more "Ministers" around the church building than any other group. Just think about the monumental problems these Ministers must face from day to day. The young ones just "entering the Ministry" have all the ropes to learn, the older ones being forced to "leave the Ministry" for the real world face a cultural shock, and those in their ministerial prime have a host of personal and political problems to deal with. But, alas, as things now stand, these men have no "Minister" of their own to turn to. For relief most of them have to resort to golf. Churches ought to be ashamed. Each Eldership, therefore, should seriously consider hiring a "Minister of the Ministers." A Fat Minister, an Ugly Minister, will only touch the life of a few; but a Minister of the Ministers will, directly or indirectly, help everyone in the congregation. And surely, with the addition of this Minister, the Church Staff will truly "be perfect and entire, wanting nothing."

I sincerely hope the fat and ugly among us, along with all Church Ministers, including those who are fat and ugly, will accept my apologies for leaving them off the former list. Believe me, it was not on purpose. Now hopefully, when these additional suggestions are correctly considered, every special interest group in the Brotherhood will be satisfied -- "ministerally" anyway.