Relationship

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.

Where is God on Monday?

Where is God on Monday?

(Insert dramatic typography to transition to a flashback)

2011

As my eyes slowly open, the once joyfully received LSU Fight Song quickly turns into my worst enemy. I fling my arm toward my dresser to stop my alarm to no avail.

Duh, Duh, Duh, Duh – repeatedly blares until I reluctantly get out of bed.

Eyes still drowsy, I find my way to the coffee pot. Then the casual check of social media follows before I jump in the shower to get ready and conquer the day.

After all its Monday and Mondays just – sometimes – aren’t fun. I get in my car for my long three minute commute to campus. After a full day of classes, I quickly hustle back to my car. You know that person who walks awkwardly fast without running? Yes. That was me.

I get in my car and quickly jolt over to my job. Before you know it, I’m home. I eat, hang out with Kayla, watch some Monday Night Football and call it a night.

It was a normal Monday. As a matter of fact, this was a normal routine for six days of the week. However this particular Monday was a sharp contrast to the previous day.

See, the day before my routine was different. After sleeping in I drank a full cup of coffee while watching ESPN’s NFL Countdown. I even had time to iron a shirt. I got in my car and drove 25-minutes (not the normal three-minute commute) to our church.

At church, I saw faces I didn’t see throughout the week. I drank fancy coffee I didn’t normally drink. I sang songs I didn’t know that well. I encountered a God I didn’t know any other day of the week.

But, it wasn’t just me. My wife (girlfriend at the time) Kayla – who grew up in church – felt the same way.

At this point, I openly called myself a Christian. I experienced Jesus before. I even got over some of my bad habits and changed for the better. We honestly loved Jesus, but we didn’t see him – or care to know him deeper – on any day that wasn’t Sunday.

There wasn’t one moment that led to this apathy toward God. It was behaviors and patterns that ultimately led to a disconnect. Have you ever bought something new – let’s say a phone, or even car – and in the beginning, you’re captivated by it?

It has all our attention. We check out every feature and use it an exorbitant amount. After a while though it just becomes another phone or car. You still use it, but it’s not what it once was to you.

That’s pretty much how you could have defined our relationship with God. As we all get 2018 started, I’m willing to bet that God is a high priority in your life. If we all want to pursue God deeper in the new year, it requires reflection and self-awareness.

We’re going to re-live some behaviors we demonstrated in our lives that led us to ask the question – where is God on Monday? As you begin to revitalize or take a next step in your relationship with God, let’s identify together if there’s any of these behaviors in our lives.

Why People Don't Want to Be My Friend

Why People Don't Want to Be My Friend

I can always hear my dad’s distant voice in my head when I think about friendship.

“Kayla, if you get to the end of your life with as many friends as you have fingers, then you’ve had a truly great life.”

It wasn’t a totally understandable thought for a fourth grader, but I still let those words sink in deep. As my days through high school, college and career life trickled by, the sound advice became even more true.

Pure friendships with value and purpose are hard to come by – and those in play five to ten years ago may not necessarily be the same circle of comrades still present today.

Spending my teenage years as part of a lively youth group and involved in several school activities, I never seemed to lack in the friend department. I never had available time to even find myself alone or without being in the midst of others.

Yet, this dynamic changed in college. Study time, internships, work schedules and the general daily grind took my attention elsewhere, and an unhealthy balance of leaning on my boyfriend (now husband) for all my relationship/friendship needs was put into play.

Somewhere along the lines I convinced myself that this was normal. I convinced myself that it shouldn’t take work to be friends with someone – and that if it did, it wasn’t meant to be.

 It’s taken years of developed self-awareness and intentional habits to swing back into balance.

I’m grateful to finally be at a point in life where I can say that I have healthy friendships. In fact, I see most of them consistently during small groups throughout the week, which is the perfect outlet for us to catch up, vent, laugh and cry together and share the week’s funniest moments about work or home.

The Desert Island: Where Conversations Go to Die

The Desert Island: Where Conversations Go to Die

I’ll just come out and say it – I love small groups. If it was up to me, I would binge watch Hulu for 7+ hours when I got home from work, but choosing to be in small groups places myself and others in an environment to engage with one another. It’s healthy and life-giving. It’s a good reason to get together. It’s an avenue to create relationships.

Each semester starts off the same way though.

Everyone who may begrudgingly come and even the willing just stare at each other awkwardly in a room. As the small group leader, I more so act as a facilitator to get people to open up. As those who have attended my groups can attest, this usually requires me asking goofy questions until a conversation sparks. Depending on the topic though, that spark may easily spread into wildfire shortly after.

One particular small group I led adventured through a book dealing with life priorities. Essentially, the book helped each person analyze the necessities of their personal life in an effort to clear out the crud we allow to crowd our sight every day.

We already trekked through some difficult conversations about money, faith, and service – but that day we floated into uncharted waters. It was time to open up about our home lives and our families.

Shortly after bringing up family, recollected pieces of the group conversation remains blurry. I’m not sure how we got from point A to point B. All I remember hearing is the sentence that started the spark – “If my child did that, I would just spank them until they learned their lesson.”

Here’s some key background information for you: our small group at the time was equivalent to that of Gilligan’s Island.

While there wasn’t a Skipper or a Mary Ann, we did have two moms (one who spanked and one who didn’t), one empty-nester, one divorced father and one confused leader who didn’t have any children. The conversation was headed out on a three-hour tour, and I was afraid we would eventually end up on a deserted island.

Only one word can describe what came next -- tension. Some became defensive. Some offered empathy. Each shared their experience with their own children or how they were raised. It was difficult.

The conversation had to be navigated carefully. I don’t believe we ever got through the curriculum. I firmly know we never came to a conclusion of what was right or wrong. Yet strangely enough, we all left satisfied.

Each had an opportunity to have their voice heard at the table. Each had an opportunity to listen to an experience that was not their own. We all talked. We all listened. It was a strange feeling to all disagree yet all remain part of the same group.

I believe it’s what’s we call out for today yet struggle to find – unity without uniformity. Communion with one another without compromise.

From Idol to Assest: How Football Changed Everything

From Idol to Assest: How Football Changed Everything

It was the big leagues. The Super Bowl of preaching.

For the first time ever, I spoke to adults in a church service. It was Wednesday, June 13, 2012 and despite the fact that there was only 30 adults in the building, it was a big deal.

As I prayed and labored over my message, I decided to skip over the fun topics on God's love, grace and purpose, and instead go right for idolatry -- putting things above our relationship with God). 

If you read my last blog (The Story Behind the Frame) you'll get a reference to my perspective at this point. It was during this time of life that I was in the middle of my 'remove everything journalism' related stage along with my 'stop watching football forever' stage.

I had stopped watching football for two full years because I felt it was an idol in my life. I felt it was keeping me from being close to Jesus. The reality -- yes, hindsight is 20/20 is that my self-imposed barrier to Jesus was still there regardless of if I spent three hours watching the New England Patriots or not. 

Still, as I got ready to speak on idolatry I had a compelling idea. I spoke in a Patriots jersey and talked about my own personal idolatry hoping to connect with the audience. (Don't mind the cheesy Instagram filter. It was 2012)