Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Idenity

While reading Rob Bell's book "Velvet Elvis" and now I'm reading Louie's book "I am not but I know I AM," has really brought a certain level of healing to my soul. So many times my identity is wrapped up into a success or fail box. For the most part, once a church plant "fails," it's easy for the pastors/staff to lose identity. You feel a certain level of abandonment and lose. How do you deal with that? Of course, all the blame falls on Lead Pastor (which is part of the territory and I'm fine with that, although most of this philosophy comes from a corporate view of the church) I have yet to hear anyone else like my denom or local leadership take any responsibility, basically the whole blame was placed on me being a poor leader. Not sure why, but it's reality. Anyhow, before I go off on a rant and become misunderstood which is not the point of this conversation. Being a church planter, I recognize that I made many mistakes...So, now I'm trying to deal with those mistakes in a way that will glorify God and help me become a better leader and find a way to help others who failed also. But, I also think the American Church has to look itself in the mirror and ask some serious questions.

Like....Identity. Rob Bell tells the story of how he was tired of being "super pastor," I'm sure you have met super pastor before...He is the guy or gal that has all the answers to all of life's questions...They can do anything, solve any problems...I had a friend in California. He was the big super youth pastor type of guy, he was at the big church, with lots of resources and multiple staff members...On the outside, he had it going on. He was SUCCESSFUL. But, his personality got in the way, another words he steamrolled folks in the name of God. You know this guy, he does not care who he hurts as long as the youth group is growing and kids are "saved." I had a great conversation with him one day...He was tired. He hated this reputation that was his reality. He understood that doing something great for God does not always mean having a big church or large youth group. His whole identity was attached to his youth ministry...And not to his God. He become lost in being successful. Sometimes failure is apart of God's will right? Louie talks about how God is the "I AM," and we are "NOT" the "I AM." Another words, we tend to walk a dangerous line of assuming a successful church, or youth group, or whatever is God will all the time. The danger of this is what happens when something becomes a failure? My youth pastor friend had to be replaced because he destroyed so many folks on the way to his so called success. He became bigger then the ministry. So this poses a question. What is success? Is success numbers...? Is it more important then say attitude, Or the way you treat people? Is it better for me lead a mega church, or is it better for me to treat EVERYONE with honor, love and respect? When I make a mistake I humble myself and say sorry. When someone offends me I automatically forgive them, no matter the circumstances. I think this goes for everyone, successful business owners, musicans, authors etc...

Hmm, more questions then answers for sure. Now, I know that I have personally steamrolled many folks in the past. So, yes I'm guilty just like my youth pastor friend....The point...Is....Not to point fingers at any individual,or style of ministry, because I know for sure that I would have three fingers pointing back at me. But, I think we need to try define "success" not in terms of numbers, or organizational success, but in attitude and how we walk with God no matter what the circumstances. Just because you have a growing church, does not mean you are making an impact for God...The Kingdom og God is much BIGGER then numbers. But, we do need growing churches for sure. But, I guess there is a right way to grow a church and a wrong way to grow a church. (I had a friend who came in from out of town for a wedding...he went back to his home church were he used to attend and he said it felt like home...To me, that is what a growing church should look like, a place were you leave and come back to again and you still feel loved and have a sense of community.) Think about it, the Bible tells us to love our enemies, but sometimes we have a hard enough time loving our family, friends or co-workers. Us pastors have a hard time getting along with each other...And we are suppose to love our enemies??? I was told by someone recently that he would no longer talk to me. My first reaction was...WOW, I would never in a million years say that to anybody...Could you imagine Jesus saying hey, I'm mad at you and I will no longer talk to you anymore...No way. Sometimes we get so caught up in the moment..We forget that we are all part of a bigger story. Another words, I can have a great church, but if I fail to treat folks in the way of Christ, does that make me a success or failure? I will try to add more thoughts to this latter.

3 comments:

Chad K Miller said...

You know Chris, a good friend of me told, after a similar conversation, this little sound byte and it always helps . . . "God cares more about the man the message he brings." Keep that in mind, we all make mistakes, hopefully mending relationships we have hurt in time. I left a church in January of 2004, it was painful, a friend of mine left as well who was doing a church plant. His church plant failed miserably, but it has been going really well for him lately, starting to understand what God is working through his current journey. I don't know many details of the whole situation, but I know that it is never good to burn a bridge, although a couple times I have had to go do some reconstruction after time. Consider your bridge's condition, whatever it may be, it leads to a freedom of forgiveness. I have seen it work, so often, although part of me wished I could have proved the "burned bridges" philosophy to be FALSE. I hope this helps.

jasen said...

great post, bro. great post.

Michael Gormley said...

THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS THE CATHOLIC CHURCH!

Why did Jesus Christ become Incarnate in the first place? Was it to leave us with a book, or to establish a Church? Well, in this verse He told us one of the reasons why:

"But He said to them, "To the other towns also I must PROCLAIM THE KINGDOM OF GOD, FOR THIS IS WHY I HAVE BEEN SENT"." (Luke 4:43)

"For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." (Luke 19:10)

And how are we, who are the lost ones, to be saved? It is through the Church which He founded.

"Therefore, if you harken to My voice and keep My covenant, you shall be My special possession, dearer to Me than all other people, though all the earth is mine. YOU SHALL BECOME A KINGDOM OF PRIESTS, A HOLY NATION." (Exodus 19:5-6)

"You, however, are a chosen race, A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PURCHASED PEOPLE; that you may proclaim the perfections of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." (1Peter 2:9)

The Kingdom of GOD will last forever:

"And when your days shall be fulfilled and you shall sleep with your fathers, I will raise up your seed after you, which shall proceed out of your bowels, and I WILL ESTABLISH HIS KINGDOM. HE SHALL BUILD A HOUSE TO MY NAME, AND I WILL ESTABLISH THE THRONE OF HIS KINGDOM FOREVER...AND YOUR HOUSE SHALL BE FAITHFUL, AND YOUR KINGDOM FOREVER BEFORE YOUR FACE AND YOUR THRONE SHALL BE FIRM FOREVER." (2Samuel

The Catholic Church Stands Alone