The Fun of Judging What Pastors Own

Remember pastors: the kind of car you drive might be the deciding factor in whether someone goes to heaven or hell.
@FailingPastor

 

A guy who was going off on me right before leaving my church was in my driveway, in front of his new SUV, and pointed to my used Toyota Camry and said, “Pretty nice car for a pastor.”

I believe I was so stunned by this that I just stood there. Really? A Toyota Camry is too nice? Incidentally, this happened about ten years ago. The guy is now dead. The Camry is still going.

I don’t mind if people have problems with me, that is to be expected. I do appreciate it, however, if the problems are actually legitimate.

A Toyota Camry is a pretty sensible vehicle. It’s a no-frills model. It serves its purpose, which is all I ask in a car.

Anyone who listens to my preaching knows that I emphasize the idea that you cannot serve God and mammon, that we are to let go of the things of this earth and grab on to eternal things. I mention this almost every week.

Of all the problems I have, materialism isn’t one of them. Ask my wife, my non-materialism annoys her at times. This isn’t even necessarily all for spiritual reasons either. I just hate stuff.

But no matter how careful I am, how sensible and thoughtful my purchases are, you can bet someone will judge them.

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Parenting Advice, Humility, and Pastors’ Kids

The best thing I ever did in my parenting was not write a book about how people should parent.
@FailingPastor

 

Paul says that a pastor should have his kids in subjection. This means that pastors’ kids should basically be good kids.

As we all know, pastors’ kids have had a bad reputation in the past. This could be for any number of reasons. Leading the list of reasons is that no one uses Paul’s qualifications for pastors as an actual basis for hiring pastors.

When my wife and I had our first kid I immediately laid down the law that if our kids go nuts, I will resign from being a pastor. My wife, God bless her, immediately began praying that one of our kids would go nuts.

Unfortunately for us, none of them have and I remain a pastor.

This is said somewhat in jest. Somewhat. My wife also had a fear that she would give birth to the antichrist (someone has to do it), so in that way, we’re doing pretty well.

Everyone has suggestions about how kids should be raised. I chuckle at those who don’t have kids giving parenting advice. I had one guy who had no kids but did work with horses, tell me some horse training tips to use on my kids. No thanks.

Frequently in the church you will hear people brag about their kids and follow it up with the steps they took to bring about this awesomeness in their kids. This is typically done when the kids are young, or perhaps an older kid has gone off to college and they have a couple at home yet. The first one turned out pretty well, so they begin advising others, only to have some of their younger ones go nuts on them.

I hate to chuckle at the perils of others, but it’s hard not to. It’s especially hard to chuckle at a young person going nuts. It is sad, I’m not laughing at them though. I’m just enjoying a heaping serving of parental know-it-all irony.

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Who Would Have Thought That Dividing into Groups in a Church Would Lead to Division?

“Churches need to do more things for singles.”

“You should do more for kids.”

“How come you don’t do more stuff for widows?”

“I don’t see a ministry for single moms, why not?”

“Why doesn’t your church do any drug rehab programs?”

“Pastors should focus on men. We need more men in church.”

“Families. You gotta get the families.”

 

The world likes to shove people in categories based on external identifiers. There is no unity; only groups of people banding together whining for special treatment.

Churches have fallen into this same trap. I imagine it started with dividing churches up by age groups and then slid down the slope to where we are now.

Wherever it started, we need to stop it.

Anyone who walks into a church and immediately wonders where the ministry is to their little group they think they fit in, should just walk right back out.

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The Terror of Being a Christian Who Is Asked to Recommend a Book, Movie, Musician, Etc.

“I don’t agree with everything the author says”

is Christianese for

“Knowing you, you’ll find something wrong with this book. Don’t burn me at the stake when you do.”
@FailingPastor

 

 

I’m a reader. I read so much people even know I’m a reader. I’m not one of those readers who wanders around telling everyone how much they read. I’m reading.

I’m also a pastor, which means everyone is trying to prove to me how spiritual they are.

When you combine those things, it results in many people giving me “Christian” books to read, but then they get nervous because what if pastor doesn’t like my book? Then I won’t be spiritual.

Therefore, every book a Christian has given me to read has been prefaced with, “I don’t agree with everything the author says.”

Continue reading “The Terror of Being a Christian Who Is Asked to Recommend a Book, Movie, Musician, Etc.”

There is One Reason a Pastor Does a Funeral: To Preach the Gospel

THEM AT FUNERAL: He’s in a better place now.

ME: Yeah, that is one nice casket.
@FailingPastor

 

 

The average funeral costs about $6,000-10,000. And that’s for a basic funeral package, not even including frills. Most people don’t know this. You need to tell them.

I preached a sermon once about funerals. I talked about what I say at them, which is the Gospel, so if you don’t want me preaching a Gospel message, don’t ask me to do your funeral. That would suit everyone fine. I also told them about the cost of a funeral and basic ins and outs of the funeral industry.

No one talks about death in America anymore, unless it’s some off-hand witty remark as a good guy shoots a bad guy, or gratuitous video game violence, or some other entertaining form of death. People want to live and get their stuff. No one wants to consider death.

Solomon says that the house of mourning is a place of wisdom, whereas a house of parties is a place to get dumber. Guess which one people like better?

People don’t go to funerals anymore. It’s amazing. I was talking to one funeral home director and he said fewer and fewer funerals have a pastor. The people in the family don’t even know one to ask. He went on to say how few of the pastors who do funerals bring up the Gospel.

I find this depressing. Funerals are the best opportunity you will ever have to deal with life and death. Most people are ignoring death. At a funeral, you can’t. The dead guy is right there in front of you. I like to throw in a little, “One day we will be at your funeral.” Make them feel what it’s like to be the dead guy in the coffin up front.

Death makes people consider large issues. Why do you think Satan enjoys making a joke out of it so much? Large issues like life after death, judgment, mortality, and other soul searching topics come up naturally. How a pastor could not grab this opportunity by the neck and hammer the Gospel home is beyond me.

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If It Weren’t For Criticisms of My Sermons, My Sermons Would Be Terrible

If you agree with your pastor 100% of the time, you’re in a cult.
@FailingPastor

 

There is nothing more discouraging to a pastor than spending all week preparing a sermon, getting it together, feeling good about it, and bursting at the seams to deliver it. The juices flow, dreams flash in the mind of conversions and changed lives with weeping and dancing with joy.

Then, three minutes after the “amen” of the closing prayer, Tim, long-time member of the church, walks up and says, “Um, the word you based your sermon on? Yeah, that’s a different Greek word than all the other words those other verses use. Your point doesn’t really carry over.”

If I were a balloon, this would be the time when all the air would blow out of me; I’d make that weird deflating balloon noise, and spin around in the air and then fall flat on the floor. I never checked the Greek. I try to play it off cool, “Oh, well the idea is kind of the same, but yeah, OK, I’ll check on that.”

I go home and check. Yup, Tim was right. I was wrong. My point isn’t actually the point of the rest of those verses. My whole sermon, nay, my whole last week is shot. I blew it. How could I miss that detail? It’s not like Tim isn’t checking everything on his phone the entire time I’m preaching. I know better.

Tim’s are annoying. Tim’s are also amazingly helpful. Tim’s typically share their information well, they try not to be jerks, they know you and you know them. Tim is trying to help. Yet no matter how well Tim helps, how gracious he may be, the deflation is real. Being corrected like that is no fun.

But over the years of dealing with the Tim’s of the church, along with the ones who argue and are wrong and the ones who argue and are right, sometimes done with grace, other times down with disrespectful anger or glee, the pastor grows.

Even when people are completely wrong in their arguments, even when their complaint is perhaps the stupidest thing ever, the pastor can still learn. I listen to the complaints and the fault-finding. Right or wrong they make me think. They make me prepare better for next time. They help me analyze a point or an angle on a subject I never considered before.

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How to be a Sane Failing Pastor, Which Should be Your Pastoral Goal

“Their church is doing great. They just built a second building.”

–What people base church success on and why so many pastors feel like failures.
@FailingPastor

 

One of the main sources of pastoral depression, and all other forms of depression, is comparison.

“Comparison steals contentment” is the old quote you hear in various forms. There is truth there.

Most comparison is based on what you see. Being the pastor of a small church with a pathetic building situation is depressing on many levels.

People in your church will frequently demand the impossible from the group and make fun of its small size. It develops a complex as everyone feels a little foolish in our little group. People visit the church and then never come back, making the whole group feel rejected, embarrassed, and a tad defensive.

People from other churches constantly tell you how great their church is. How many got saved. How many attend. How much their new building project costs. The new exciting programs your church could never afford that they started and won their whole city to Christ.

Pastors are constantly given advice from “more successful” pastors (and there will always be a more successful pastor) about how to do things and “here’s your problem.” If we could all just be as cool as those cool guys in their cool churches.

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