Tuesday, January 18, 2011

who am I?

photo: Craig Allen

So, who am I?

What gives me the right to talk about who is a dinosaur and who is not?

I'm a church planter, and by that I mean I am training to plant a church, not that I've ever actually done it yet.

I became a Christian at the age of 12 in a fairly typical suburban church in Omaha, NE.

My mother is a Christian, and my father was and is still a practicing Hindu.

In high school, I developed a close friendship with a girl from our church.  She modeled Christian perfection: youth group leader, served in children's ministry, sang on the worship team.

During her senior year, she tried to commit suicide.

I encountered a crisis of faith when the very same religion that supposedly offered eternal life couldn't even sustain her temporal life.

God called me to ministry that same year, so I went to Bible college after high school and graduated with a four year degree in pastoral ministry.

That degree has so far accomplished very little for me.  Most churches I would want to work at require something north of five years experience and a master's degree.  How you get either without being independently wealthy, being a well-known pastor's son, or having a lot of "stage presence", I have no idea.

It would be easy for that last part to sound bitter.  I promise it's not.

To be honest, God had to show me how impossible it was to just make a job out of ministry.  You see, the churches that are worth working for are too hard to get into unless God gives you the raw talent or right last name to impress an organization that's already at the top of its game.

And the churches not worth working for are a dead end.  Trust me, I got fired from one . . . twice.

I always dreamed of planting a church, but I listened to the established churches that said I needed those elusive five years experience and that expensive master's degree.

God shook me free from that conventional wisdom through heartache, job loss, and tragedy.

Now I'm a man on a mission.

7 comments:

  1. Love you and love being on this journey with you. :)

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  2. What makes a church "worth working for" or not?

    And do dead ends really exist with God? It may not always be apparent at first, but I've yet to encounter any experience that is irredeemable for His purposes even if it takes months or years to understand.

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  3. I would say that a church that isn't worth working for is one where the level of dysfunction is so great and unchecked that it makes it impossible or nearly impossible to do ministry within one's convictions.

    God has taught me a lot through seemingly irredeemable situations, but part of what He has taught me is to watch out for those kinds of situations.

    Jesus speaks frequently against those who appear religious but are actually dangerous and misleading. (Matthew 7:15-20; Matthew 23:27-28 to name just a couple.)

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  4. I have a hard time believing that the only churches who are willing to hire people without 5 years experience and a Masters degree are all dysfunctional.

    I wasn't so much speaking about avoiding future bad situations, but rather viewing past bad experience through a lens of what else God might have been working on. We can't assume that a situation that doesn't end up how we expect isn't exactly what God had in mind for us, or even if on some level we anticipated it going badly that God isn't teaching us through it. Personally, I can't view any experience in which God is doing something bigger as a dead end.

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  5. I never said that the only churches that will hire people with limited experience are dysfunctional. Nor did I even say that desiring a proven track record is always a bad thing. I think my language, using words like "most", makes it pretty clear that I was making generalizations.

    God definitely teaches us things through difficult situations, and life and the Bible are full of such examples.

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  6. In living through the situation you referred to, I can confidently say that you have definitely been open to the things God has done/is doing through those tough times. I'm also really glad you are more aware of what kinds of church bodies to avoid and embrace. :)

    Your wife

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  7. I would say your point about your degree and it's usefulness in getting you a job are true in the secular world as well. There are plenty of 4 year college graduates that are still servers at a decent restaurant, making more than they could with an entry level job related to their degree.

    It's far more difficult to hire a minister than an accounting clerk. The resume of an accounting clerk is quite a dependable indicator of his skills and abilities. How can a resume indicate the amount of leading the Holy Spirit has in a person's life? How can you represent love, compassion, humility, wisdom on a sheet of paper or in a 30 minute interview or a phone conversation?

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