I asked for questions the other night. I had a couple humorous replies. I laughed. But this is what was actually asked and (paraphrased) what was answered.
The questions were all submitted by those attending the conference, and answered by both Rob and Don Golden.
What if the pastor you work with may be working for the other side?
Resist and he will flee.
How do we stay away from the breakdowns that seem to accompany church leadership?
This answer is deeply connected to things like feeding the soul and rhythm and patterns in your life. First is the issue of sustainability. You can do anything for six months and almost anything for a year – but the scriptures don’t give short bursts as the measure of maturity. Very few pastors think of their work as a marathon; most have been taught to think of production and not discipleship.
How many signed up for a revolution and ended up running a spiritual business?
It is important to withdraw and take time to replenish your soul. The greater the crowds are in Jesus’ ministry the more often you see him withdrawing and spending time alone. This is the picture we are given of a mature ministry. The greater the responsibility is the greater the eucharist and thus the greater we must withdraw to be replenished.
We must embrace our limits to reach our potential. Just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should. What’s the healthiest pattern in your life?
Here is the key to this: do this with your spouse and family. Make expectations known. Take your calendar and show it to those you report to. “Here is what you want me to do, here is what I’ve been doing. The problem is I’m being pulled into this and this.”
Your kids don’t care about the size of your steeple. Your wife doesn’t care. They want you fully present, rested, and healthy. They don’t want you giving your best energies to the church and giving them what’s left over. You have a pastor’s heart, that’s what got you into this. But you need to learn to control that valve. You need to learn to say no. You need to learn to say no like Jesus or you will burn out.
What’s with not having a church sign?
You found us. (throws paper away)
It’s just a gathering place. It’s not a church. It’s a building. We even tell kids, it’s not a church, it’s an old mall, run! We want to equip you so that you can leave, because the action is not here – the action is out there. Theologically, the understanding is that every Christian has a context already: already has friends, coworkers, neighborhood, etc. They already have a context – the issue is this person needs to be trained and equipped to have radar for what God is up to in the world they’re already in.
What happens is the church can send people the message that the real action is in the building. Sundays, Mondays, and Wendesdays are all time they don’t spend in the world. So then churches have to have special training sessions to teach people how to be relevant. Sometimes what can happen is the church can actually be at odds with the community, because all the people who would be changing the community are extracted out of the very community they are supposed to be blessing.
How do we have church services that end with a giant “Go”!
If you can resolve this sermon in an hour and fifteen minutes then this sermon didn’t do its job. It should equip you so that the only way you can resolve the message is to go and work it out. It can’t be a self contained message. We once had people stand up and face outside, away from the center, and said “Who, this week, are you going to go and bless?” Now go do it.
How can you help us with steeple envy?
The person who teaches and the person who leads are usually different kinds of people – it may be best to separate those roles.
Dan recommends not knowing anything about the church; in other words approach the idea with ignorance. Ask
- Who is Jesus among you?
- Why did He come to town?
- How are you going to organize yourself in response?
- What does it mean to have Jesus today in this world?
I’m a pastor in an affluent community. Personally we don’t know any poor or homeless. How do we connect and serve besides sending checks?
First, shake in your boots. Recognize that God came for the weak and if you don’t have the names of poor people, if you don’t know people who need you or could benefit from you, how could you know Jesus? You need to get saved by finding people that you can help.
What would it be like if a church in America, with all of its resources, viewed its role and responsibility the same way African churches do? What if our life became the church too?
Recognize and then go find Christ where he is always found, among the weak.
I am a Christian education director at a church, in seminary. If I survive, I hope to be a pastor. However my pastor has taken it upon himself to mentor me. He often says to keep my opinions quiet and “survive the system”. I don’t believe this is worth my time or the kingdom’s – what should I do? What do you do if your church represents the exact antithesis of what we’re talking about today? When is it time to stay and push reluctant Christians and when is it time to leave? Is there a value in staying at a church and working to fix it from the inside out?
You can’t take people where they don’t want to go. Not everybody is restless. For some people it works how it is. When we try and drag them where they don’t want to go we end up exerting lots of energy to bring them where they have no desire to go. They aren’t ready. The old thing still works for them.
Sometimes the best way to respect people is to let them have their desires. This is a very seeker insensitive approach, but it is something we see countless times throughout the ministry of Jesus.
Whatever you’re interested in doing, start it in your living room. If you can’t get something started in your living room, even just a book group, I hope you don’t get a building.
If you need to leave the church to find your faith then do it. Working out your salvation is more important than working out a role in Church, inc.