gentry13

Archive for July, 2009|Monthly archive page

In Uncategorized on July 21, 2009 at 9:33 pm

Rock Stars for Jesus Preach Masturbation
by: slowfo

“Are you ready to preach about masturbation?” This was the question I was presented with recently while on a job interview at a large, up and coming, highly successful church…..and it wasn’t a joke. Before I begin with the rest of the story and my coinciding rant/critique, let me first of all say that these “successful” churches led by Daugherty and Ryan Seacrest wanna-be’s are actually doing some good things. There are a number of people out there that have been so numbed by the lifeless, judgmental churches of their past that they previously wouldn’t have ever darkened the door of a Jesus-following church until the Celebri-Church came and wowed them back to their childhood faith. So the bottom line is that lives are being turned back to the Bible and a faith in Jesus Christ. I get that and am glad for it. It’s just not for me like it used to be.

See, I used to work in the mega-church atmosphere and even was a major proponent of Celebri-Church style until I started to realize that it all seemed so people-centered more than God-centered. There’s just a lot of ego behind all of the flash that is used to share the message of Christ with this culturally-relevant language that we use now.

Ok, back to the matter at hand – masturbation (and no, that probably won’t be the last inappropriate innuendo/pun that I use in this post because frankly, they’re too funny to ignore and I’m way too sophomoric not to use them….so I hope it won’t rub you the wrong way). The way the interviews work at this church, they fly you in and you check out their worship services over the weekend while getting to know some of their staff. Then on Monday morning, you go through a series of tests (personality, giftedness, even a mini-ACT test). You break for a quick lunch and then it’s getting grilled by the panel of staff all afternoon long.

Part of the panel grilling goes like this, “So Joe Candidate, do you think God’s given you some gifts to speak/teach/preach? How would you rate yourself?…(Joes grades himself on a 1-10 scale)….Really? Well, you’re about to prove just how good you are. Joe, pick a number between one and three….(Joe picks ‘2’)….Two, huh? Okay, each number was a different subject. If you’d have picked ‘1’, you would have chosen Homosexuality; if ‘3’, you would have gotten Breast Augmentation. But you picked ‘2’, which is the subject of Masturbation. So Joe, you’ve got 10 minutes to put together a 10 minute sermon on Masturbation. At the end of the 10 minutes, you’ll pull your presentation out and work it in front of a room of 20-25 staff members and spouses. Good luck.”

Here’s their idea, the job I was applying for wasn’t a preaching job; so if I handled myself too well with this Masturbation topic, then my gift mix would be for preaching and not for this job. They wanted to see me under pressure and uncomfortable while I’m trying to massage a hard message in front of a group of people.

So is this where church staffing interviews have come? When I mix this in with the overall atmosphere of this church, which was filled with beautiful people with Hollywood clothes and hair, it just all gave me a very sick feeling. This didn’t feel like a church at all. It felt like a well-oiled financial machine where muscled-up guys and curvy girls could have their own mini country-club and not feel so un-cool about following Jesus anymore. I’m all for good music and effective communication but it just seems to me that the Protestant Church may need to take a step back and think about who or what exactly is getting glorified in this ultra culturally-relevant environment that has been created. If it’s all about how cool we can be, then it seems like it’s not so much about a God-centered group of people as much as it’s all about pleasuring ourselves (and that’s 8 for those of you counting at home). Sorry this post is so long but I do feel incredibly relieved now that I’ve worked it all out (okay 9).

In Uncategorized on July 17, 2009 at 1:11 am

fragments

after nine years of (admittedly non-traditional) pastoral ministry in new england i have finally decided to get ordained, or officially set apart, for ministry. since i come from a tradition in which each congregation can choose who to ordain, and, for wholly unmerited reasons, my home church has always supported my ministry, ordination has long been an option for me. however, i have not pursued this sacrament until now.

for that reason, i suppose i shouldn’t have been surprised when scott zimmerman, the pastor of christview christian church, and the board of elders at the congregation completely bypassed theological questions in order to ask an imminently practical one: “why are you pursuing ordination now?”

good question.

my first inclination was to tell scott that until now the ordination process really hasn’t been all that important to me. i am a strong believer that, as st. peter states, all Christ followers are “chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation” that have been called to “declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” based upon this passage, i follow luther and the anabaptists (talk about odd bedfellows…) in declaring that Christ has created a priesthood of all believers and commissioned all of his followers to go forth in wholeness and try to wrestle life out of death. thus, i haven’t sought to be ordained because i am confident that i already am ordained.

and yet, for utilitarian and sentimental reasons, the ordination path is one that i have decided to take.

since securing ordination in my tradition is relatively simple – in my case it took one vote of the elders and “6 to 8 minutes at the end of the service” on sunday, august 9 – it makes sense to publically confirm my calling to ministry and receive the affirmation of my church so that i can legally marry more than one couple per year in massachusetts and forego the $25 unlicensed officiant (i’m tempted to say untagged dog) fee. as scott also reminded me when we spoke, ordination could potentially produce tax benefits since renumerated ministers are not required to withhold social security from their income if they so choose. but since i score my bread with “secular” wages, i doubt that uncle sam is going to let me off the hook there.

lest i come off as too pragmatic, i am also pursuing ordination because i truly appreciate the mercy and grace my home church has always lavished upon me and want to recognize the instrumental role they have played in my life. moreover, since my papa preston was an elder at our church for over thirty years, and has continued serving in that role, albeit without title, since, i want his hands upon me when the prayers for my ongoing ministry and passionate petitions for the poor souls who have to walk beside me are offered within that 6 to 8 minute slot.

since this process is shaping me in other ways that i’m not quite ready to confess, i’ll admit that i’m being a bit glib. for some reason i wanted to share a fragment of what’s going on in my heart and mind. i’d also like to invite you, if you live anywhere near, to participate in my ordination, and perhaps wrestle with yours, by attending the 10:30 a.m. sunday morning worship service at christiview christian church in tulsa, ok on sunday, august 9th.

In Uncategorized on July 8, 2009 at 2:06 am

poor, poor privileged me

tonight the board of elders at my home church is discussing the possibility of my ordination. i have never felt a stronger sense of calling to pastoral ministry and cannot think of a higher honor than being consecrated for ministry by my own church. however, i have no clue what form my ministry will take in five years or where it will lead me.

i can’t imagine preaching and presiding over the sacrament less than twice a month, yet i fully acknowledge the wisdom of my colleague at rectangle who sat me down two weeks ago and said: “you have a family, you are a pastor and you are committed to leadership at rectangle. how much longer do you think you can continue doing all three things well?”

well? sometimes i wonder if i can continue doing all three things at all. of course, that is what i think my colleague was getting at.

i cannot help but preach. i have always been healthiest when i am serving beside and being served by people with disabilities. i adore my wife more than words can express, am so proud of my son and realize that family is the sine qua non of my existence. this is the trinitarian tension of my existence. sometimes i dance betwixt other times i am torn apart.

tonight my eyes welled with the beauty and the terror.

%d bloggers like this: