People

Pastors Were Never Meant to Know Everyone

Pastors Were Never Meant to Know Everyone

For one year, Kayla and I actively served on the Kids Team at a church in Baton Rouge, LA. We asked to be scheduled twice a month -- and in some cases three times. Although this commitment was more than expected, we loved it that much.

The more we were around and served, the more the leaders engaged with us. We knew the Kids Pastors and staff more than just a quick "hello" on a Sunday morning. We often talked about the church, the vision, and how we were challenged by the messages.

During our entire time serving and attending this church we never once had a conversation with the Lead Pastor. We never even shook his hand. 

... and I thought this was normal!

I had no church background prior to attending this church. When I committed my life to Jesus, I started attending a church, reading my Bible, and eventually serving. Through my discovery of Christianity and my experience at that church, I never expected to know the pastor personally.

Fast forward six years -- a couple of new churches -- and many personal conversations later and I've realized my prior expectation is in the extreme minority. In fact, I've often heard this popular statement: "I just need to go to a church where I know the pastor."

Can I lovingly nudge your perspective for a few paragraphs? My suggestion is that despite what we may think, pastors were never intended to have a close relationship with every person in their church.

I think that this perspective correlates with the fact that 90 percent of churches stay less than 200 people in attendance. I don't fault people for desiring a close relationship with other people -- however our expectations that the person should be our pastor is misguided.

Let's think about it.

The first pastor in the Bible was Moses. It was physically impossible for him to be close with his people. Why? There were millions of them. In fact, so overwhelmed by the administration of leading millions, his father-in-law suggested he develop other leaders to meet the needs of the people.

When Jesus arrived on the scene, many instantly decided to follow Him after witnessing His teachings and signs. As His followers increased, He always stayed close to his 12 disciples.

When the Church exploded on the scene in Acts, we quickly see the apostles couldn't handle everything and everyone. They had to raise up team leaders (elders) to lead areas of ministry.

As Paul started planting churches, he would arrive to towns, preach the Gospel, develop leaders and leave. As the churches continued growing, they continued to develop leaders. It's why Paul spent most of his time writing letters to leaders and churches. There was no way Paul could personally know everyone -- even in churches he personally planted.

In fact, the roles God assimilates in the church -- apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers -- were designed for this one functionality.

Why I Generously Unfollow People on Social Media

Why I Generously Unfollow People on Social Media

When Tom Brady stepped up in the pocket with a little over two minutes left in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl 52, I knew what was next. Brady was going to lead the offense – and his team – to a sixth Super Bowl Championship.

Then flashes of the trauma of the New York Giants franchise flashed before my eyes. Brady fumbled, the Eagles recovered, and thanks to one of the worst defensive showings I’ve ever seen by the Patriots – we lost.

As is a normal game day custom, I turned my phone off prior to the game. For this game, I didn’t turn it on until the next morning. The next day I intentionally ignored ESPN, but I started browsing social media.

Hundreds of my “friends” celebrated (yes, non-Eagles fans) the demise of the greatest sports dynasty in modern history. I graciously clicked to the right of each post and my finger quickly pressed, “snooze for 30 days.”

Within moments, my social media feed was back to the happy lives of my friend’s – coffee pictures – and a lot of Boston Celtics talk. All was well in my social media world.

The snooze or unfollow aspect of social media hasn’t been new to me – or just reserved for Patriots bashing friends. Over the last year, I’ve generously unfollowed many friends. I’ve even removed two social media platforms all together.

Facebook particularly has reached a new challenge. In 2012, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s mission was to make the world connected. People would have easy access to the internet and their voice mattered.

Here we are in 2018 – and the mission reigns true. Facebook has 2.2 billion active users, but with that has come the ushering in of “fake news” and unreliable content. It’s led to wrongful action and perspective. It’s almost as if Facebook has been the vehicle of our division as a society.

This summer, Zuckerberg and company shifted their mission for the first time. Facebook now wants to “give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.”

“Connecting friends and family has been pretty positive, but I think there is just this collective feeling that we have a responsibility to do more than that and also help build communities and help people get exposed to new perspectives and meet new people -- not just give people a voice, but also help build common ground so people can actually move forward together.”

Let me translate – Facebook wants to build personal relationships not just give people a platform to launch their personal opinions. If you’re a nerd (like me), you can read more about it. Basically, Facebook will continue to make general posts you and I publish less accessible to the average person. The big push will be building community within Facebook Groups.

The big picture here is that Facebook had to acknowledge something wasn’t working. Facebook – and other social media platforms – have become littered with personal opinions and political jargon. It’s become a place for you and I to feel empowered as we sit comfortably on our couch.

It’s divided people – not connected them. That’s precisely why I unfollow people – even people I greatly love and respect.

Here’s three practical reasons why I’ve made this decision:

Raise Your Hand if You Hate Conflict

Raise Your Hand if You Hate Conflict

Back in 2015, Matt and I took a trip to visit Lakewood Church in Houston, TX. After hearing many opinions about said church and pastor (both negative and positive), we decided to hop off the gossip train and check out all the hearsay for ourselves.

Visiting that church was such a life-changing, healthy experience for us that I decided to blog about it afterward. 100,000+ views and multiple shares later, I found myself asking my husband to shut down the comment section on the website.

In a matter of hours, we were called everything from false prophets to undercover church attendees who were paid to ghost write an article. I had no idea who these people were. They knew nothing about me outside of content in the blog.

Still, I was sick to my stomach for days thinking about the fact that there were people in this world who disliked or even hated me, and I couldn’t do anything to change their opinion.

After asking Matt to disable the comments, I remember lying in bed with the covers over my head. I was disappointed in myself for the lack of courage and resiliency present in my life.

While most would take pity, my reaction more sense in the grand scheme of this not being a one-time event, for the sick feeling deep in my core wasn’t new or adverse. Rather, this sinking sensation had become like an unwanted friend; it was the same familiar companion that came around anytime I had a conversation with someone that involved opposing views.

While my psyche could blame it on the blog, I knew this is who I was on the inside all the time – someone who was afraid of any type of conflict. My initial instinct to conflict was always to first run and hide, similarly to what I was doing at the time under a heavy comforter in a dark room.

Last week, Matt described three categories of people that we all fall into when it comes to conflict. If you’re like me and can raise your hand after description No. 1 (people who try to run from conflict), then welcome to the club.

It’s a non-confrontational party where problems find no solutions and leaders don’t grow in their capacity, yet we all remain unoffended and passive. Sounds great, right? (Some of you are probably screaming, “Yes!”)

In my mind, conflict was always associated with anger. Conflict meant broken relationships. Conflict was connected to a power struggle. These connotations had stemmed from a plethora of examples in my past.

While all true examples, they were not healthy examples. Though unaware of it at the time, staring at the ceiling that evening was the start of my journey toward health in conflict.

Unwilling to allow things to continue the way they were, here are the practical steps I took to gain courage, confidence and competence toward resolving peace with others.

The $30 Phone Bill That Forever Changed How I Handled Conflict

The $30 Phone Bill That Forever Changed How I Handled Conflict

After a few weeks of training I was finally transitioning to the “floor.” Oh yes, … the floor.

The floor was where we made money. As a “sales consultant” for one the largest technological companies, my job was simple in theory. All I had to do was push products on the sales floor and make the company money (which in turn makes me money).

I grabbed my iPad from the back and swung open the door. I glanced up at our T.V. screen which had a list of people waiting for a representative. I approached the next customer who we’ll call Bob for this story.

I approached Bob. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous – this was my first customer interaction on the clock after a few weeks.

“Hey Bob, my name’s Matt – how can I help you today?”

“You idiots went up on my phone bill from $29.43 to $30.02.”

“Okay! Let me check that out for you.”

“Hurry up. I’ve been here for 10 minutes. You people are always so slow.”

The next 30 minutes was eventful. His increased charges were due to a government telecommunication tax that effected everyone who owns a cell phone.

I explained this to him in detail, but he wasn’t satisfied. My patience quickly wore off as I glanced over his account and noticed he had $125 of bill credits every month because he was an “accelerated customer” (he complained a lot).

I looked at Bob and said, “You know, most people pay $150-200 a month for a plan like yours. You should be grateful to pay $30! That’s not normal today.”

Apparently, I misspoke. Bob cussed me out for being arrogant and rude. He proceeded to tell me he saw a phone online he can pay $10 a month for and have unlimited data. Being facetious and knowing he had no idea what he was talking about, I fake smiled and said in a condescending tone – “Man, that sounds great. You should totally do it!

Bob caused a scene, left our store, and despite much chuckling coming from my peers who heard the whole exchange I quickly found myself in a meeting with our manager.

At this point in my life, I had recently transitioned from a full-time ministry job. I wasn’t all that likeable as a person and, in fact, I hated people (for the most part). I handled this situation of conflict just like I would at my previous job.

I arrogantly told an individual they were wrong and waited for them to get over it. Yeah, that’s not ideal in life – or you know, in a church setting. I chalked up my conflict resolution skills from my upbringing – “I’m from Boston. We’re all rude.”

Let’s be transparent here. I still do believe I was right most of the time, but my approach was off. My pastor frequently says this – “You can tell me anything, you just have to approach it the right way.”

On the first day on the floor, I was brought down to the reality that the way I handled conflict was deeply flawed.

Sign Me Up to Drive the Golf Cart

Sign Me Up to Drive the Golf Cart

“Let’s activate what God’s called us do!”

As our pastor championed this statement, he stepped over to a large display of the words “ACTIVATE” and flipped a switch. In a moment, the words lit up – radiating the entire auditorium. The hype in the building was elevated.

It felt like the moment a head coach stirs up his team before the Super Bowl. After his words, thousands of people were eager to partner together in unity and make the greatest team possible.

Kayla and I were in that crowd. We were ready to join a team and start serving in the church – after all, teamwork makes the dream work … right?

We quickly walked to the lobby to select a team to join and after talking to one of their team members, we made our way to the car. We were both excited – almost giddy – to be joining a team. While walking back, we asked each other what teams the other selected.

“I picked the parking team because I want to drive the golf cart in the parking lot.”

“I joined the hospitality team so I can talk to new guests!”

Getting in my car, an awkward pause soon ensued. We looked at each and both agreed that those weren’t the two teams we were supposed to join. I progressed with a sigh because I knew what God was doing next.

“On the count of three,” I said, “Let’s blurt out the team we both think God wants us to join.” We did this count off – and still do to this day – to avoid bias. If God is talking to us individually, we rationed in our mind that the 1-2-3 game is the correct way to make sure we don’t influence the other person.

1 … 2 … 3 … K I D S!

Before the S rattled off our tongue, I yelled, “NOOOO!” (I may have been inspired by Michael Scott). To condense a long story, we joined the kids team because we felt that’s where God wanted us to be.

The big picture was evident. Jesus was taking us on a process to be more like Him.

Months prior to this moment we were wondering if God is even around on Monday – we loved God on Sunday, but didn’t’ care to know Him any other day of the week. But, in typical God fashion, He showed Himself in my ’96 Saturn Sedan to shift our perspective.

He challenged us to pursue Him more. It worked! As we loved Him more and spent time with Him on a deeper level, simply attending church was the bare minimum. It was now time to do what Jesus did the best – serve others around us.

So, what made us move from attending church to serving others? It may have taken us a while, but we understood that while change can be uncomfortable, it is essential for us to keep moving in our faith journey.