After reading my latest blog on church, a friend told me that I need to write a follow-up blog on how church can change. I am no expert in this subject… and these posts are my mere opinions and thoughts. Being the practitioner that I am, I started thinking about practical steps that church can take to welcome back those that couldn’t find an authentic place. It didn’t take long for me to look to pastors and leaders. I don’t believe pastors are responsible for everything that goes wrong in the church… however, I do believe that the lead pastor and staff will set the tone for the culture of the church most of the time. From my experience, the lead pastor also tends to attract people who are like him in leadership.
I once served under a senior pastor who told me that laypeople shouldn’t see the way I (a paid staff) live outside of church. He said that laypeople shouldn’t see me in my casual setting, in street clothes, and me being me…. this is when he told me that I shouldn’t live with a lay person as my roommate. He believed that pastors should be upheld on a pedestal, and that we shouldn’t ruin that image for the lay. What in the world???? Thankfully, I didn’t believe any of his ridiculousness… the same pastor also threatened to “black-list” me so I couldn’t work in another church if I didn’t obey him. Needless to say, I didn’t last long under his leadership… I turned in my resignation 2 weeks after his last threat. Okay, this may be an extreme… but it really happened to me!!! But I don’t think his idea of being the perfect christian pastor in the eyes of his congregation is that far from the reality of most churches out there. Many pastors I know struggle with how transparent they can and should be with their congregation… hmmm… how about totally transparent??? Isn’t that what doing Christian life is all about? I’m not saying that he should air all of his dirty laundry all the time (there is appropriate time and place to do that)… but pastors, do you know how refreshing it is for your congregation to hear that you also struggle with trusting in God in every day things? Do you know how refreshing it is to hear that pastors also have flaws and weaknesses that everyday people can relate to? One of the most refreshing thing I recently heard was when a pastor of a church that I was visiting admittedly said “you guys, I’m broken… I’m just as broken as anyone else here.. but it is by the grace of God that I’m here talking to you.” People don’t want a perfect pastor… they want a REAL person! This is something I’m also personally working on… learning to be transparent with people!
Pastors are in the business of studying the Word of God, shepherding people, and teaching people. It’s kind of part of their job to sit with the Bible open at the desk every day… every pastor should try putting themselves in the lives of their congregation members… One of the biggest blessing in disguise for me is that I had been bi-vocational for over 10 years. I used to hate that I had to have multiple jobs… but I realize that having to clock in at work at 7 am has helped me see the reality of what an average 9 to 5 working person goes through every day… Trying to live a true christian life isn’t as honky dory as many pastors make it sound in their sermons. I’ve had some traumatized moments in my conversations with co-workers.
Many pastors I have known admit that they don’t have close non-christian friends because their world is immersed in doing life with other pastors and christians. They are also very busy with prepping for Sundays, visioning, programming, meetings, etc… So if I could encourage my friends and my readers to do one thing… develop a relationship with your pastors/leaders and learn to be honest with them about how you’re feeling about the church… You don’t need to attack them for everything that dissatisfies you, but keep an open communication about what’s helpful, what’s frustrating, what’s difficult in the church as well as in your life. I hate to say this, but a lot of pastors could really use help in this area. Folks, that’s called relationship and doing life together!
I’ve just scratched the surface when it comes to what I think church is… this isn’t it… but it’s a start! And I’m afraid if I keep rambling here, no one will ever read my blog ever again! 😀