I was at Frank’s Place, the location of our first church plant, on Biker Night last Tuesday. A mother and daughter were there drinking and dancing, and generally having a good time. They fit the bill for metal/biker chicks. When I invited them to church on Sunday, the daughter looked at me with a mix of revulsion and shock on her face and said, “Oh no, we’re atheists. Besides, I’m burning in hell for sure.” She was completely serious. She wasn’t exaggerating for my benefit. She just said it matter-of-factly: “I’m burning in hell for sure.”
I gather she has a colorful past & present.
Her mother was absolutely scandalized when, beer in hand, I told her I was the presiding pastor of this bar-church and had talked about pornography the previous weekend.
“You’re the pastor and you’re drinking? And you talked about pornography in church?!?”
Even atheists want their holy men to be holy.
Over the last few millennia, starting around the time Christianity became the official sponsor of the Roman Empire, a gap began to grow between Christian leaders and “lay people”. The fact that we have a term like “lay people” speaks directly to the problem the church faces today. We have this crazy idea that priests and pastors are supposed to be uber-Christians, while everyone else gets to schlep along in the pews. Christians and atheists alike want their holy men to be holy because it relieves them of the responsibility to take their faith more seriously.
If I’m the pastor and I confess that I’m just as troubled as my congregation, there are no excuses. They’re forced to come to terms with their lukewarm faith. They can’t say to themselves, “Well, of course Pastor Stephen can do XYZ; he’s a better person than I am. He’s a man of God. He doesn’t struggle with all the things I struggle with.
This puts the future of the church in jeopardy. New generations of unchurched Americans demand transparency from their leaders. If new church leaders want to reach these individuals they’ll have to unlearn the pastoral model of the Baby Boomers. Because while older generations wanted their holy men to be holy, new generations want their holy men to be authentic.
What do you think your church’s response would be if your priest or pastor confessed to sins more common to the ‘common man’ in the congregation?
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being “Holy” and 10 being “Authentic”, how would you rate your priest or pastor?