MacDonald's remarks capture part of the reason I refuse to clap after choir anthems or special music performed by the numerous talented individuals in our congregation: the primary purpose of worship is to worship God, not to be entertained. It isn't that the performances aren't worthy of applause; they almost always are. But if worship becomes just another form of entertainment, then the harder aspects of the Gospel will almost surely be lost. It is true that the Gospel offers comfort to those who are suffering, but it also calls us to step out of our comfort zone, to go places and do things that we otherwise would not do, which is why MacDonald calls on congregations to recognize that
Ministry is a profession in which the greatest rewards include meaningfulness and integrity. When those fade under pressure from churchgoers who don’t want to be challenged or edified, pastors become candidates for stress and depression.
Clergy need parishioners who understand that the church exists, as it always has, to save souls by elevating people’s values and desires. They need churchgoers to ask for personal challenges, in areas like daily devotions and outreach ministries.
When such an ethic takes root, as it has in generations past, then pastors will cease to feel like the spiritual equivalents of concierges. They’ll again know joy in ministering among people who share their sense of purpose. They might even be on fire again for their calling, rather than on a path to premature burnout.