Don’t Give In, part 5

Don’t Give In, part 5

Just Be Cool.

Nothing is less cool than making people conform to something they did not think of themselves. They’re going to respond much better to a form of pastoring that starts with what they want and then builds around them. What is really cool is that we focus more on appearances and feelings. That is cool. Cool is determined by what the people want – what the majority of people expect.

What’s not cool?

  • The Bible, except as something quotable
  • Reverent language
  • Expecting people to think for themselves

What’s cool?

  • Light shows
  • faux hawks and soul patches
  • Feel-good, predictable sermons

It is much cooler to appeal to the lowest common denominator and treat it as exceptional than it is to call people to standards that would clearly require discipline and involvement. It’s simply not possible to be too cool, right? I mean, you don’t wind up looking like an idiot when your objective is coolness, right?

Yep. That sounds good.

[This post, and all in this series, are satirical hyperbole. That means I am making a point by exaggerating the opposite point.]

 

Don’t Give In, part 4

Don’t Give In, part 4

Can we really know anything anyway?

If you listen to what many mainstream scholars are saying, everything about Jesus’ life and ministry is kinda up for grabs. We don’t know that he did stuff or said stuff, and most of Paul’s letters are either misunderstood or not written by him anyway. So, the gospel should really about felt needs and the wants of people.

If that’s the case, then what is really important in ministry is that you make people feel as if they have accomplished something by being “in church”. Ministry is all about adding value and purpose to people’s lives.

Feel People’s Desire for Importance

Stop requiring righteousness or expecting Biblical literacy – redefine what it means to be a follower of Christ in “practical” terms and you will give people a goal that they can not only shoot for, but can accomplish with minimal investment from them

That couldn’t possibly backfire on you, could it? It’s not like people will constantly want more affirmation or expect compromising more and more of my deeply held convictions. They won’t become the all-consuming me-monsters of your universe, will they?

[This post, and all in this series, are satirical hyperbole. That means I am making a point by exaggerating the opposite point.]

Don’t Give In, part 3

Don’t Give In, part 3

There’s no money in real ministry

Sure, you might have the assurance that you are striving to understand the ancient text of the Scriptures and present it to folks so the Spirit of God can use it to transform their lives – but is that skill that will pay the bill?

I mean, do you really want to go through life with just enough to meet your needs? Don’t you want to see the green?

Why should you waste your time on all that stuff that will require you to conform to the Scriptures when you could be making money by giving people what they want? You could have staff people to do all the work for you.

Doesn’t that sound better than all that work studying and being honest will require?

In the end, what is important is you. You work hard. You deserve to get paid. Star athletes get paid. CEO’s get paid. You’re the pastor. You’re like a Heisman winner and a baron of business all wrapped into one. Get the payday you deserve, you superstar of a minister, you!

[This post, and all in this series, are satirical hyperbole. That means I am making a point by exaggerating the opposite point.]

Don’t Give In , part 2

Don’t Give In , part 2

Might as well give people what they want.

Sure.

Most people are bored in most churches.

But if they are going to a traditional, predictable church then at least they know they can depend on the pastor to show up at their house routinely and any time they want to just talk and talk, they can always set up an appointment and he has to listen with a concerned face.

And if they don’t want that kind of church, they can always go find a rock show with a little message at the end that passes for a worship service in some of the newer churches. They can move through life anonymously without any genuine spiritual growth but still tell people that they got a lot out of the worship service.

Who wants someone to challenge them at every turn? And think of all the time you will have on my hands if you don’t have to do all that studying the Scriptures and working in ancient languages?

In fact, you can get plenty of ready-made sermons online. After all, if it is good enough to be preached by some pastor somewhere else, it should be effective in my congregation as well, right?

So, find out what people want from you and just give it to them. It will make everyone a whole lot happier. And in the end, isn’t that what ministry is all about?

[This post, and all in this series, are satirical hyperbole. That means I am making a point by exaggerating the opposite point.]

Don’t Give In, part 1

Don’t Give In, part 1

For years, I have tried to challenge the status quo and call people to do the difficult work of truly living according to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But I have decided there is really no point to it. I have faced too many challenges and resistance, so I have decided to just put my pastoring gig into autopilot. Why?

Well, it works on airplanes, doesn’t it? 

I mean once the pilot gets the plane in the air, he slaps on autopilot and just hangs out with his copilot, right? I have heard that on most flights over about four or five hours, the pilot is generally sleeping anyway. On an average day, air traffic controllers handle over 28,000 flights every day. How many of them crash? That’s right – NONE. Since 2001, there have been five crashes involving commercial planes. FIVE. See, autopilot works great.

Why shouldn’t it work with pastoring? Leading a church isn’t nearly as complicated as flying a commercial plane, right? And the average commercial airliner has more people on it than will hear the average sermon.

So if an autopilot can handle an airliner, why can’t we put the church in autopilot as well?

[This post, and all in this series, are satirical hyperbole. That means I am making a point by exaggerating the opposite point.]

Our Trip to Israel in January

Biblical Imagination Trip to Israel

The video will open a new page on Vimeo

We were privileged to spend a couple of weeks in Israel with the Biblical Imagination team. Our church family and a number of friends we have met over the years helped us get there – a blessing to our entire family. After we got back, we tried to show people the pictures but we had hundreds ourselves and then hundreds from our new friends. In the end, any slideshow presentation did not do the trip justice.

Jeff Jones, our videographer, just sent us the video journal of our trip. You can watch it and see us among our “congregation on the move” during the trip. The video is set to music and narration from Michael Card as well as some of the instruction from our tour guide, David Miller.

My Advice to Future Pastors

My Advice to Future Pastors

I am in my tenth year as a solo pastor. In that time, I have led our congregation through a lot of changes. Our first Sunday together, I candidated for a down and out congregation that had just moved into a newly renovated space. They had already offered the pastorate to someone else, who had decided God wanted him on the mission field instead. I was their second choice. That was August, 2004. In November of that year, the congregation called me to be their pastor.

Five years later, with our lease expiring and our funds dwindling, God led us to another congregation and I was privileged to help lead the two congregations in a merger that resulted in Bedford Road Baptist Church. That process took over 18 months from beginning to end.

Now, after nearly ten years, I finally feel like I have something to give to the next generation of pastors – in the form of a single piece of advice.

If you can live without doing this job, do something else.

I say this in all seriousness and without the slightest reservation.

If you can do something else, do it. The pastorate is not something you do because you think it will be neat or a challenge. It is something you do because there is a fire burning deep inside your gut and God won’t let you do anything else.

Look, I am a pastor’s kid. I know just how much being married to a pastor or having a pastor as a dad sucks.

As a pastor, you will put your family through more garbage than you would ever wish on anyone else. You will have bouts of depression and frustration. You will have days of complete exhaustion. Sometimes, you will cry for no reason other than the disparity between the way you thought your life would go and the way it has.

Make no mistake about it.

You have to be called into this gig.

If you can do anything else, do it. If you can be anywhere else, be there. If there is someone else, then let them do it.

Being a pastor is the hardest thing I have ever done. It is tiring. It is frustrating. It is painful. It is trying. It is brutal. It is emotional.

And I can’t imagine myself doing anything else because God dragged me kicking and screaming into this gig – so I know it is His work, not mine.

Casual pastor-wannabe? Get out while you can, before this thing consumes you. It isn’t for those who aren’t called, because it isn’t about you.