Thursday, April 11, 2013

New Blog Site

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Friday, November 9, 2012

post-pro-pastor pt.5

I used to think big, shiny buildings and dynamic pastoral staff were indicative of a healthy I'm not so sure

if you have been following along with the past posts in this series, I applaud you

as I have mentioned before, this has been a journey and I by no means think that I have arrived anywhere yet

a couple months back, I sat down to share my heart with some very dear friends of mine

I share this with you because I think it gives a glimpse at my intention and desire that may have become clouded through earlier posts


"to be utterly honest, my soul has been feeling dry for quite some time, there has been something missing

this dryness began after a few years into 'professional pastoring' - there seemed to be a longing for something deeper, something more connected...something more like church

this is not a critique, but rather an acknowledgement of a deep longing that I believe most of us carry

'church' had become my job, following Jesus my occupation...but that can't be, not anymore

just as I could never be paid for being Kai and Rylan's Dad, nor receive salary for loving my wife, Brett, so I have been called to love God and the Church without compensation (or more strictly - not for compensation)


there have been many turns and twists, but this brings me to today

in the beginning of the early Church, priorities seemed to be different. I've been stuck on this passage for years:

Acts 2:42-47

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

this is what I desire - not for my 'likes' because to be honest, it would be easier not to...but because I believe this is how God designed us to be

I want to love God, I want to get to know Him more, I want to develop a deeper love for Him
I want to learn more of His Word (because most times I'm confused)
I want to do this with a community of people
I want this community to eat and pray and 'do life' together.
I want amazing things to happen
I want to care for others
I want to want to praise God (does that make sense?)
I want others to follow Jesus

now, this may sound hokey and/or idealistic or completely diluted and I'm ok with that...because I think deep down - you want this too

I'm really sick of playing church...and I'm pretty sure it'll be the death of my soul

I want to BE the Church, I want to live as the Church...and on top of all that - I want to do it with all you!


*if you still want to throw me under the heretical be gentle, I am fragile 


I understand that I did not provide a lot of answers to many of the questions I was posing throughout these 5 prayer is that we can continue to journey together

models and paradigms are only as effective as the people involved

one thing I've grown to appreciate is the quiet, faithfulness of a servant...there are many untold (and that's the way they like it) stories about women and men who diligently serve day in and day out

may we be the leaders that follow those servants...may we be the leaders that follow THE servant


there are pictures in my mind of communities flourishing through trial, persevering through celebration and worshiping through life - I would love to show them to you...but I'm pretty sure all the elements are right around you already...may our eyes be opened to see them


post-pro-pastor pt.4

I used to be paid as a pastor, but I'm not so convinced anymore that I should be...

but who knows, maybe I'll recant and receive a gracious compensation package in return for my 'sacrifice' - hopefully involving budgets for books, coffees, conferences and massages

running the risk of alienating myself from every paid pastor in the western world, I'd like to address the logistical problems that arise through the demands of paid clergy


when we cease to function as a living body with Christ being the head and instead turn to business-like endeavours with Christ being our tour-guide, our trajectory changes dramatically

I may be speaking out of turn, but when we become more interested in keeping the bottom line 'healthy' than where the Holy Spirit is leading...we have gone off-course

you can tell a lot about a person/ organization/ church/ family by how they spend their money - this is a particularly sensitive area to most everyone in north america (myself included)

I can claim to care about the poor, disenfranchised and the like - but I would submit that in an affluent culture in which I find myself, if there is little indication through my spending...then I probably don't care overly much - though I may be over-emphasizing the point

a church-body can state how much they care about (blank) - but I would likewise submit that if there is little indication through their spending, then they probably don't care overly much


as a litmus test of priorities, peruse the spending/ budgetary habits of your typical church-body and I would guesstimate that the overwhelming majority of bottom-lines go to staffing and building costs with a sprinkling of conscience-cleansing 'giving' to others

is it possible that we (and I am firmly planting myself in that category) have placed an undue amount of importance on paying for staff and buildings?

what seems to happen is this - when a church-body decides to hire a professional pastoral(s) and buy a building(s) there is a gravitational pull created, pulling everything around back into itself

*disclaimer: pastors and buildings are not inherently bad - the idolization of them are

the body begins to make decisions accordingly, asking questions like: how are we going to pay pastors? and how are we going to maintain buildings?

unfortunately, these questions become louder and louder, drowning out other questions like: what is the Holy Spirit doing? and how can we be a part of it?
the body continues to program and utilize the facilities and staff that it now 'owns' - less and less likely to actually 'go and make disciples,' the focus turns to 'come to our building and listen to our dynamic pastoral staff'

the body begins to grow frustrated and disenfranchised with the trajectory they are now firmly on - but they have invested literally millions of dollars (if they've been around awhile) building a machine that only wants more and is never satiated, and the idea of turning off the machine is too risky

as mentioned in the first post: "I believe there are many, many pastors who sense God leading them in directions that may not align or lend themselves nicely to 'working' for an established church...yet, given the options - they choose to remain" 

I know of many people who feel a clear sense to plant and nurture new church communities, but are hampered greatly by the felt need to raise enough money to pay staff and possibly buy a building

sometimes there are agreements made between specific church bodies and the denominations that they align themselves with where the fledgeling church starts Day 1 in financial debt, knowing in 3-5 years they need to raise enough support (read: money) to be self-sufficient

though I appreciate the working-togetherness of this approach, all too many times this puts undue pressure on an otherwise beautiful movement

rhetorical thought: think of all the new plants and communities and expressions of church that would/could spring up when freed from the demands of paid staff and building


Jesus told a lot of stories - parables if you will

I do not pretend to understand the deepest implications of them

he told one about servants who were given money by their boss...and the boss evaluated how each used the money they were given - I find this parable particularly sobering

churches like to talk about wise stewardship - this idea of 'how' we use what God has given us

with that 'how' in mind, do we think that, as relatively wealthy churches who have been given so much, that Jesus looks at our accumulation of buildings and multiple staff and says: "well done, good and faithful servants."?

immediately following this parable in Matthew 25, it is recorded that Jesus goes on to talk about the distinction between sheep and goats with compassionate care being firmly placed as paramount in the telling: feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked, caring for the sick, visiting the imprisoned.

if the pseudo-importance of staff and buildings supplant our utter dependence on God and the obedient following of Jesus' commands they have indeed become idols


it's funny, because one fellow pastor/twitterer, was able to communicate very succinctly what is taking me many words to say: "churches may be healthier without paid staff"

maybe I should've just tweeted that...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

post-pro-pastor pt.3

I used to be paid to be a pastor - but now I'm not


this leads to some interesting and often amusing conversations (at least for me)

they usually go something like this:

"oh, so what are you doing now since you left the church?" - polite congregant

                   "I actually didn't leave the church, I'm just not paid anymore." - post-pro-pastor

(confused look)...."hmmmm, so what are you doing now that you're not a pastor?"

                   "I actually think I'm still a pastor, but I work a couple jobs to pay the bills."

"Well, good for you ever think you'll get back into the ministry again?"

                   "If you mean professional pastoring, I doubt it, but I've been wrong before."

"Ok, we just miss having you around."

                   (now laughing) "I'm right here."


during this post-pro-pastor journey, many assumptions and paradigms have been brought to light

do pastors have to be paid to fulfill the office of pastor?

should pastors consider their role as an office at all?

is there legitimacy to the role of tent-making?

and so forth


returning to the picture of the body of Christ, my desire is to see every body part function wholly in concert together with no part being held as more or less integral

but my concern is that if we attach significance and importance to specific parts through monetary compensation, then we are indeed perpetuating an unnecessary hierarchy and creating a potentially unhealthy body - separating 'clergy' from 'layity'


it becomes a seemingly natural expectation that those who are paid to do a 'job' should do the bulk of the work (after all, that's what they're paid for) and all too often other body parts are mistakenly disempowered to fulfill their own crucial roles in the body

instead, the non-clergy are encouraged to play support roles: teaching sunday school, singing on 'worship teams' and other un-paid duties that have become engrained in what church should look like

*disclaimer: I am not belittling sunday school teachers and worship teams in any way, but calling into question the dichotomy that seems to exists 

what if every member, gifted by the Holy Spirit served alongside other parts in unity?
what if each one saw their gift(s) as being just as integral as the next's?

it's difficult to rectify this when one class of Christians is being paid to use their gifts and the other class is expected to use their gifts for free


so the result are many:
- there are pastors who earnestly desire the people of their church to serve wholeheartedly, yet find it difficult to connect them into fulfilling ministry

- there are many people who sacrificially serve day in and day out, yet do not see what they do as integral to the body of Christ

- we, the Church, are not fully being who we are called to be because the vast majority of us are only expected to bring people to the building the church owns (as long as it's not too embarrassing) and volunteer an hour or two at the same building and hopefully give some money (more about that later)


it's time to change

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

post-pro-pastor pt.2

I used to be paid to be a pastor - if you haven't read pt.1 please do so before continuing on...

there are those (typically pastors mind you) who'd like to remind that in 1 Timothy 5 it says:  
17 The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says, “Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.”

interestingly enough - these references come from Deuteronomy 25:4 and Leviticus 19 and I would hazard to guess that the instructions found in the verses immediately preceding and following the verse in Deuteronomy are not routinely followed today - as teachers would point to their specific intention and relation to the culture of the Israelites...and as far as the reference in Leviticus goes, I would almost guarantee that the person in the pulpit, teaching on this subject is wearing (or at least owns) an article of clothing made of two kinds of materials

that is not to say that the principles found in those chapters are no longer significant - but it is intriguing to note the 'picking and the choosing' 


extensively in 1 Corinthians 9, Paul goes on about the 'rights' of an apostle (though I doubt all paid pastors are apostles...another post perhaps?)

however, after listing all the reasons he believes 'apostles' have these rights - Paul, himself points out that he willingly forfeited those rights so as not to discount the gospel he was preaching the person pointed to as the authority on the subject is also the person who chose not to claim these rights

completely rhetorical question: what implications does Paul's choice have on the choices we (and I use that loosely) make as pastors?

*disclaimer: I am not an authority on this subject - merely I man who used to be paid to be a pastor 


lest you think I am condemning all pastors for being paid to fulfill their roles in office please hear my heart...
there are countless pastors and dear friends of mine who have sacrificed themselves wholeheartedly for the sake of the churches they pastor - true shepherds who are indeed worthy of far more than double honour

I have been inspired and discipled by these pastors...I have been exhorted and encouraged

and I pray these words I write do not take away from their legacy in the least

rather, this has been my own journey and I am slowly coming to terms with the ramifications

Monday, November 5, 2012

post-pro-pastor pt.1

 let me begin by saying:
I believe in God,
the Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried;
he descended into hell;
on the third day he rose again from the dead;
he ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty;
from there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting. Amen.

I used to be paid to be a pastor

- this transaction brought many connotations and expectations (positive and negative) as it was contractual in nature

but when relationship is reduced (or primarily attached) to contract it loses its' essence

*disclaimer: this is simply my journey and may/may not have implications for others

I am not paid to be a husband

I am not paid to be a father

I am not paid to be a friend

...the question I began to ask myself: 'should I be paid to be a pastor?'

the second question: 'can I still be a pastor without being paid'? 

*disclaimer: I have many friends who are paid to be pastors - actually, most of my closest friends are pastors

I am fortunate enough to have marginally marketable skills outside of 'the church' and thus can realistically find alternative work

but for many paid-pastors, their bible school/ seminary degrees have little 'value' in the general marketplace and they can't envision doing anything 'outside' of the church

thus, maintaining homeostasis increases in importance because there are bills to pay

'rocking the boat' becomes seemingly very dangerous because your job is on the line and the gravitational pull is so strong (more on that in pt.4)

I believe there are many, many pastors who sense God leading them in directions that may not align or lend themselves nicely to 'working' for an established church...yet, given the options - they choose to remain


for me, the picture of the body of Christ as an actual body has many intriguing implications

many parts...many different parts...working in concert with Christ as the head

as a pastor - which part was/am I? _____________(fill in the blank - haha...rememeber that comments are moderated)

a clarifying question for my role as a pastor: "if I am but one part of this body, how can I rightfully ask other parts to fulfill their role for 'free' (read: monetary compensation) while I am paid to fulfill mine?"

if I truly believe the body is comprised of many equally important parts, why the disparity?

am I, as a pastor better than others? are my gifts more important?

for me, the resounding answer

*disclaimer: I wrote these posts as a series and although I welcome dialogue on each post I would ask that you reserve throwing me under the bus before reading the rest (I'm fragile)

Friday, October 26, 2012

us f(or) them

I recently stepped out of 'professional' pastoral ministry... but that's another story for another time

during this 'post-pro-pastor' era I've been on an interesting journey, stories of which I'm sure you'll be subjected to if you continue reading this blog


I hadn't been able to pin-point exactly what had been bothering me in the months past...but then it came

I believe that as followers of Jesus we are called to be a blessing to others, to be about reconciliation, to bring hope, to be light, to be salt - not of ourselves, but as God works in and through us

but instead, so many are running around fear-mongering, perpetuating an 'us or them' mentality with little compassion - escapism, exclusivism, private-club-members-only-ism

Jesus looked on the crowds with sheep without a shepherd but sometimes I'd swear my 'brothers and sisters,' in their rhetoric are taking it upon themselves in condemning people to hell

my friends,

it's not us or them

it's us for them if God is calling to the world through us (an appeal if you will)

and what so many seem to be slinging is none too appealing


now I'm not suggesting we sugar-coat or water-down to make following Jesus easier BUT for crying out loud, let's at least try to act like Him.

we've been running around drawing far too many lines in the sand for far too long and the waves are about to crash down

may we be the salt and be the light...and may it truly be us for them


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Kony 2012

I have been following Invisible Children for many years

I have been to Uganda twice over the past 2 years

I have personally visited Invisible Children's headquarters in Gulu, Uganda


but I am no authority


Invisible Children were the first to bring Uganda and Kony to my attention - they have excelled in raising awareness as we have all witnessed by now

they have been highly praised and highly criticized

but instead of giving my money and time to and through Invisible Children, I have personally chosen to devote them to and through Watoto - as I was taken by their approach to changing Uganda


I have seen first hand the effects Kony has had on that country

I have stood on the same ground from where he abducted children...and much worse


my Ugandan friends have lived through a horrible war and yet rise up

I have seen them and they have seen me

I cannot save them but I can stand beside them


invisible children, watoto, charity water, one, (red), etc....need to be held accountable for their actions

...and so does Kony

I for one, will not just sit by and criticize, ambivalent and jaded

I will stand up for my friends who have lived and suffered at the hands of Joseph Kony

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Christian Environmentalism (guest post)

with Ineloquent Anthem on hiatus lately, we have a wonderful interlude from my good friend, Ryan Mulligan:

It is my personal belief that there is a need for maturation within the Christian faith. It is time for a more sophisticated (and yet, simplified) Christianity. For too long Christians have turned a blind-eye to environmental concerns. There are few spokespeople from the Christian faith that are willing to stand up and say that their God created this earth and therefore it’s their job to protect its integrity.

Growing up I was always confused when I heard Christians (primarily in the United States) talk about environmentalists as though they were part of a radical segment of the population. I also heard the argument that a concern for nature was running the risk of worshipping it and in turn, it can lead to idolatry. Even though I found that argument to be ridiculous, I always found myself a little nervous to tell my Christian friends that I was an environmentalist because of the baggage that came with the term.

I clearly remember travelling to Costa Rica apart of a mission trip with my youth group. While there I thought I was in an untouched paradise. I remember thinking that clearly this was close to Gods unadulterated created beauty. A few friends and I were wandering through a wooded area surrounded by beautiful trees. As we approached a river running through the forest my heart sank. I looked down to see about ten or fifteen McDonalds take-out bags. At that moment I realized God had created a beautiful amazing world and us humans are failing to appreciate and take care of it. If we see nature as something that can be abused or with dollar signs in our eyes, then we are missing the heart of the creator.

While attending bible school, a professor reminded me that when God created, he did so with a perfect order in mind. This creation was made out of his imagination and through his creativity and in the end “it was good”. God created beautiful oceans, tall strong trees, animals free from chemicals, crops free from pesticides and clear, beautiful, blue water. As we watch our world be polluted with man-made pollutants, Christians have stood on the sidelines watching their Creators creation be basterdized.

When I was baptized I was told that the water represented a washing away of impurities as I entered a new phase in my faith journey. Unfortunately for our Christian friends in India and the developing world, this sort of symbolism during baptism is becoming more and more obscure. With sludge, pollutants, oil, human waste and the like, found in their water an entire young generation of believers will never understand the same symbolism of baptism we have understood since the time of Christ.

Most of us will be familiar with Psalm 23. The symbolism of the first verses is incredibly power
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul.
I pray that we don’t lose that powerful imagery that David gave us in those verse.

Now, symbolism isn’t the only reason Christians should be mobilized for environmentalism. Our scripture commands we mobilize. Genesis 2:15 says ”The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it”. Returning to my professor in bible school that taught a created order of all things, this verse tells me of a created order in which God’s creation takes care of his creation.

Genesis 2:8 “Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. 9 The LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.”

We often don’t think of our God as a gardener but this verse clearly demonstrates a God that cared enough to plant something useful and beautiful at the same time. The Genesis writer also saw fit that God be identified as the planter and creator or Eden. This cannot be ignored. As we see the blooming of a flower, the rushing of a river, or the peacefulness of a forest, perhaps they further reveal an incredible creator. When I draw a picture or write a paper, it originates through my creativity and through my mind. Therefore how can we not see this earth as an outpouring of God and the manifestation of his love?

Another reason we must acknowledge out impact on the planet is that people are being affected by our actions. As Jesus calls for us to care for the marginalized, we must acknowledge that environmental degradation is marginalizing people.

A term emerging in some circles is “Climate Justice”. It is the idea that climate change is an ethical issue.  It emphasizes the idea that people are being affected by climate change and it is causing deeper poverty, displacement of people, and drought. From my work at the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), I can tell you that without a doubt, climate change is affecting millions of people in Africa and other island nations around the world. The devastating 2011 famine in Somalia has its roots in climate change and resulted in the death of tens of thousands of the world’s most vulnerable. 

So what am I asking? Am I asking you to walk to work, change your light bulbs, and eat local food? Well yes! But in fact I’m asking more than that. When an oil company is telling Canadians about economic benefits of oil do your Christian role. Be caretakers of this earth. Ask questions, demand accountability, demand transparency, and demand life over profit. I’m not saying all oil development is bad or that it doesn’t have benefits to the economy but rather I am saying: Ask questions, demand accountability, demand transparency, and ensure we are treasuring life over profit.

When industrial, nuclear and human waste is being dumped in to Canadian and international waterways do your Christian role. Be caretakers of this earth. Ask questions, demand accountability, demand transparency, and ensure we are treasuring life over profit.

When the Canadian Government chooses to forgo environmental responsibilities do your Christian role. Be caretakers of this earth. Ask questions, demand accountability, demand transparency, and ensure we are treasuring life over profit.

In the end I am simply asking Christians to stand up and say: “Excuse me, my creator also created this planet and we demand his creation be treated as an extension of him.” God is good and this planet is a gift of love from our creator. 

Luke 19:38
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”[a]
“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
40 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

Nature cries out in worship to God and in turn we should sing along.

This is not political, its not about money, its not about anything other than taking care of the outpouring of God’s love for us.

Monday, December 19, 2011

taking a break

Ineloquent Anthem seems to go in seasons

and I am growing more ok with that


tis the season to take a break

see you in 2012


in the mean time - catch up with some oldies