How to be a Pastor at a Potluck

Pastor Potluck Rules: go last in line, take most of what people took least, and sit with people no one else sits with.
@FailingPastor

 

 

My dad was a pastor and I learned these rules from him. He never told me these rules; he just did them. I was routinely amazed at his ability to be last in line. As a kid, I was top ten every single time! How can you not want to get in line for food?

Then, the stuff he took! Man, I stocked up on desserts and jello salad and cheesy casseroles. My dad would take all the gross stuff. He did that because he knew people would be offended if no one took their food. If it was particularly ignored food, he’d make sure to thank them for bringing it and tell them how much he really liked squid. I kid you not. One time we had a missions potluck and someone made squid. He and a junior high boy ate it.

My dad was a friendly guy and people liked talking to him. He had people in church who were his friends and he’d more than likely enjoy sitting with them and yucking it up. Instead he’d sit with that one family who was a little annoying and difficult to talk to. He’d sit with the old people who could hardly hear. He’d never take much food and he’d eat it quickly so he could make the rounds and sit with people who no one else was by.

My dad was a true servant. He always looked out for other people. Part of this was his inherent nature. That’s who he was. Part of it was actually pride on his part. He was a people-pleaser to the extreme. He pleased people so much he did not get much enjoyment out of life.

But he was still right in much of how he did his pastoral ministry. His potluck etiquette was impeccable.

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Monty Python, Preaching, and Culturally Relevant Sermons

If Monty Python had never made The Quest for the Holy Grail, all my sermons would be two minutes shorter.
@FailingPastor

 

 

Pastors are supposed to be culturally relevant. We’re supposed to interject cultural things into our sermons to make us appear as though we’re real people and know things about stuff.

The problem is that modern culture is completely stupid. Modern music is no music at all. Modern films are just political propaganda. Television is passé. YouTube and Instagram are just one more waste of time.

It’s hard to pay attention to such inanities, let alone work them into sermons and be relevant.

I prefer reveling in my irrelevance. I have no idea what is going on in modern culture, other than knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that modern culture is completely stupid. I at least know that. I prefer showing my incompetence by quoting things that were cool many years ago.

The greatest movie ever made was Monty Python’s Quest for the Holy Grail. There are so many lines in there that fit like hand in glove into sermons. I cannot talk about the resurrection without mentioning “I got better. I feel fine.” Any discussion of government or kings in the Bible so easily slides into “watery tarts distributing swords is no basis for a form of government.” The witch of Endor floats on water like small rocks and churches. I could go on. I can quote the whole movie. Walls of Jericho with the Frenchmen who will taunt you a second time.

The thing is that very few people know Monty Python references anymore. What sad times are these when passing ruffians can’t quote Monty Python. So when I include Monty Python quotes in my sermons, people just think I’m quoting the King James. Either that or people think I’m stupid for saying that Jesus got better after He was crucified.

People have no idea how many lines of Monty Python they know now simply because I’ve repeated them in my sermons.

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Raising Pastors’ Kids

My kids are not better than yours cuz they are pastor’s kids. They are better than yours cuz they are better than yours.
@FailingPastors

 

 

Pastors’ kids have a bad reputation. This could be because pastors have bad kids.

It could also be that people have very high expectations for pastors’ kids. Every little misstep of pastors’ kids gets noticed and remembered and gossiped about.

I don’t know where the stereotype comes from in all honesty. I’ve known lots of pastors’ kids and I honestly don’t know any that I’d describe as being “bad.” I mean, kids are kids. Kids are by nature not good all the time. My kids have done bad things, some of which were observed by others. But anyone who knows my kids would say they are good kids.

I am not a person who likes bad kids, so I’d know it if my kids were bad.

My kids are, quite frankly, good kids. They get good grades, they don’t get in trouble at school, they have jobs, they are respectful to authority, and various other measures of kid goodness. My kids are beginning to move out of my house, one already has. My kids are not little anymore; they are young adults. And they are good kids.

Let me tell you one massive reason why they are good kids: because I’m a good father.

Yup, I went ahead and said it.

My kids were born like anyone else’s kids. They had their fair share of strengths and weaknesses. Two of them were hyper and nuts. One of them was quieter and more subtle with her nuts. But they were all nuts. It took a massive amount of time, patience, energy, and cardiovascular exercise to discipline my kids. I was all-in on my fathering. I was determined to win every battle of wills. No matter how long it took, I wore them out until they learned I was the boss.

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The Failing Pastor Goes to Funerals

The best thing about my own funeral is that I won’t have to do anything for it.
@FailingPastor

 

 

Three members of my family have died since I’ve been a pastor. I officiated all three of them.

No one really asked me. I was more or less told to do it.

That’s fine, I’m not complaining. Much.

It would be nice to go to a funeral where I could just grieve and not feel like I had to be “on.” Where I didn’t have to go through the anxiety of having to speak and potentially embarrass myself or the deceased with a slip of the tongue or flippant joke.

It’s my job, I get it. But yeah, it would be nice to go to a funeral and grieve.

Over my years as pastor I have attended other people’s funerals done by other pastors.

This is almost as dreadful as doing funerals. Some of the ridiculous things said at funerals are enough to raise the dead

Everyone is always saved and in heaven. They “aren’t suffering anymore;” “they are looking down on us right now.” “God needed them in heaven more than we needed them down here.”

There have been funerals where I’ve wanted to scream at the pastor: WHY IS THERE NO GOSPEL IN YOUR MESSAGE?

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Some Thoughts About Having Church Buildings

“Church is not a building.”

–Christians who attend churches where a majority of the budget is spent on buildings.
@FailingPastor

 

The amount of money spent on church buildings is ridiculous. I do believe this is going to come up on Judgment Day.

There is nothing in the Bible about churches having buildings. At the same time, there are plenty of verses talking about not putting our treasure on earth, not seeking material wealth, not getting tied down to earthly things, and the classic passage where the disciples bragged to Jesus about the impressive temple buildings, only to be shot down by Christ.

I won’t say having a church building is a sin, nor that a church should not have a building, but I do hear an awful lot of pride expressed in buildings, the very same buildings that will, like the old temple, be toppled.

I did a wedding at a different church once where they just added a new addition. It was a separate building with a gym and classrooms. They proudly showed me every single room, even though they all looked the same.

When the Grand Tour was over, my tour guide asked me, “I probably shouldn’t have shown you all that! Now you are envious of our building!” This was said with zero hint that they were sorry. It was pride through and through. I said, “No, not really. I think I’ll be ok.”

“You still meeting in the same place?” is a question I get frequently. Without blowing my cover, we don’t have a building. What we do is pathetic in light of what all the cool churches are doing. It has cost us some people.

One family left because the new Vineyard church put in an arcade for the kids. “How come our church doesn’t do anything like that?”

“Because I think that’s stupid” was apparently not the answer they were looking for. They left. Hope their kids had a nice time at the arcade.

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Spiritually Superior Pastors

THEM: Pride goes before a fall.

ME: Actually, it says, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”

*immediately trips over a curb*
@FailingPastor

 

 

I consider one of my main jobs to be the preaching of the Word, the whole counsel of God. In order to do that, I came to the startling realization that I better know what’s going on in the Bible.

I know, pretty extreme, but that’s where my brain went.

At a certain point in my career, I decided to read the Bible from cover to cover over and over again. I’ve now read it cover to cover around 40 times. I also began memorizing books of the Bible. I’ve got Romans and Galatians pretty well down.

Yeah, I’m awesome.

I must admit, I’m proud of such feats. It took a lot of work and dedication to do these things, and I continue to do them.

Part of me wants to tell people about my exceptional prowess in taking God’s word seriously. Part of me thinks that since I’ve worked so much with the Bible, people should bow to my understanding of the Bible. “You’ve no doubt never read the Bible like me, so off with you, ya little pretender.”

One evening at a church gathering a guy asked me what Romans 1:25 was. “Pssh, that’s easy,” I thought. “Little does this guy know I have the whole book of Romans in my head.” I proceeded to quote Romans 1:25. “For the invisible things of Him, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made so that they are without excuse.”

Boom! In your face. Now worship my awesomeness!

Instead of worshipping my awesomeness, the guy said, “Uh, I don’t think that’s right.”

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Pastors and The Reading of Books

“I don’t read books, I only read the Bible.”

–People who don’t read the Bible either
@FailingPastor

 

 

Pastors get used to hearing sanctimonious talk. Many conversations contain defenses, justifications, and guilt-deflecting statements to impress the pastor. Looking good in front of the pastor apparently means looking good in front of God. I hope that’s not true, because no one looks good to me anymore!

One of the best ways to look good is to prove that you are better than your pastor. I like to read. I read about 80 books a year, mostly non-fiction and about half of those are theology related.

When I tell people I like to read, or that I was reading, I am frequently told, “Oh, I don’t read books; I only read the Bible.”

Gag.

First of all, I’m not making a comparison. If me simply saying I read books makes you feel guilty, ask yourself why that would be the case. It wasn’t my intent. My enjoyment of reading is not at all contingent upon your enjoyment of it.

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