A Reason To Sit in the Back Pew (or An Illustration Gone Bad)


KOKOMO, Ind. — A pastor trying to demonstrate the concept of unity to his congregation broke his wrist when he accidentally drove a motorcycle off a 5-foot platform inside the church.

Kokomo pastor crashes motorcycle in church | IndyStar.com | The Indianapolis Star

Not too much of a point to this post. This happened over the summer in my home town, so I heard about it. It came up the other day, so I thought I’d look it up to see if there was more information. I guess from time to time my illustrations go bad…but at least I haven’t broken my wrist because of it. Perhaps more than anything, this shows how desperate pastors are to communicate the gospel. Or, it might show how much pressure we feel to do something extra-ordinary to keep the folks awake! 

In some ways it is a sad indicator of where Americanized Christianity is. Why do pastors feel the need to bring dirt bikes, or live animals, or tractors, or a whole host of things onto the stage so that people will be interested? Why do we know have light shows, expensive theatre-type sanctuaries and larger than life screens? Why does it seem like we have to go to these extremes to keep people from saying church is boring?

The Illusion of Leadership

Henri Nouwen writes,

The great illusion of leadership is to think that man can be led out of the desert by someone who has never been there. Our lives are filled with examples which tell us that leadership asks for understanding and that understanding requires sharing. So long as we define leadership in terms of preventing or establishing precedents, or in terms of being responsible for some kind of abstract “general good,” we have forgotten that no God can save us except a suffering God, and that no man can lead his people except the man who is crushed by his sins. Personal concern means making Mr. Harrison the only one who counts, the one for whom I am willing to forget my many other obligations, my scheduled appointments and long-prepared meetings, not because they are not important but because they lose their urgency in the face of Mr. Harrison’s agony. Personal concern makes it possible to experience that going after the “lost sheep” is really a service to those who were left alone.

Many will put their trust in him who went all the way, out of concern for just one of them. The remark “He really cares for us” is often illustrated by stories which show that forgetting the many for the one is a sign of true leadership.

I’ve been discovering the reality of this the past year or so. It has caused me to wonder if by defining leadership by our projects and programs we have in reality moved away from the kind of leadership Jesus displayed. As my schedule gets filled, I find it more difficult to care for the ‘lost ones.’ As my time gets busy I find my view of the “greatest good” defined by the “numbers served.” Yet, the One I’ve been called to follow defined himself as one who was willing to leave the ‘numbers’ and search for the “one lost.” My my life be reflective of His.

Pastor as Spiritual Director

I started thinking today about the pastor as spiritual director. I’ve seen many books that try to teach me how to be a CEO or something like that. I also get many invitations to conferences on church managment, growing large churches, etc. However, I’ve started to question the whole “grow the church large” mentality. I’ve also started to question how I pastor others.

One thing I’ve noticed is, when I don’t care about the bottom line (as far as the conference is concerned), I tend to do things differently. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to make people upset at all. However, in the past, I would care so much what people would think (because, if you made people made, they would leave and your year end reports would look bad) I would not always do what I thought was best.

For example, some pastors are reluctant to talk about money. However, money is one of the top topics in the Bible. I believe that the whole area of giving is a spiritual one. Basically, giving is a way to acknowlege (to yourself at least) that your trust is in God. What I long to want for my life is to be generous. Not with my excess, but with my very life. The only way I can do this is if my trust in God is so strong, I’m able to open my hands and let go.

Back to Pastor as Spiritual Director….I’m starting to feel that the stress on the church growing bigger, has hurt us growing deeper in our faith. What I would hope is, as we grow deeper, Christ is formed within us. We are able to become what He was. It isn’t that we are self-righteous, but rather from the core of our being the Love of God flows forth. I believe, when that happens, the church will grow and more importantly, people will be changed.

Enough for now….