I had lunch with a group of pastors the other day… and if you know me then you know that is a rarity for two reasons. One reason is – pastor types usually don’t like me, and the other reason is I usually don’t like them either. But this lunch was different, they may not like me because I was (as always try to be) open and transparently me, but I did find myself appreciating them, their opinions, and goals. I don’t feel like they want to be the manipulative, controlling, typical pastor types and I pray that they are free enough in their walk with Christ to stay that way.
I wonder if this group of guys represent most pastors on the beginning of the journey. Did they all start with a vision of helping people and changing the world. Did they all start thinking of people and not numbers, buildings, and institutions?
I’m thinking now of two examples that may explain how easy it is to fall into the temptation to stop waiting on God and begin manipulating people.
As I attempt to understand Hebrews and truth in general I find myself thinking more and more about what a life lived in SABBATH REST looks like. I shared with that group of guys about resting in Christ and a time when I was flying to HAITI… this was early in my journey as a follower of Christ who was becoming less and less controlled by religion. Every time I had gotten on a plane before this trip, I had felt a certain pressure to share the gospel with someone while they were trapped beside me for a few hours in the air. As I boarded the plane on this day I felt a great freedom in knowing that I didn’t have to do anything, I could just relax and allow the leadership of the Spirit of God that lives in me to be in charge. I had no intentions of forcing the gospel on anyone.
As we flew on a very low capacity plane, my friend Derek and I moved to the back and simply talked. There wasn’t anyone near us, except a guy trying to sleep a row or two ahead and across the aisle. We talked, and laughed and had a good time. After 20 minutes or so the sleeping man set up and turned to look our direction. I immediately feared that he was ready to ask us to keep it down because we were too loud, but instead he began to ask us questions about Christ. He even moved closer and asked more and more questions. He admitted his interest in Jesus and his lack of faith. We couldn’t help but share the gospel with this stranger. He thanked us for our time and he clearly wanted to know more about Christ.
One of the men I shared this story with responded that while that story worked for me (because of my personality) it would never work for others. He explained that he had parishioners that were so shy that they had to be taught to share. At that moment I understood what he was saying, but as I reflected on that conversation I’ve come to believe that we are simply tempted to do in our time what we should wait on God to do. Are there people so shy that they don’t talk to anyone?, maybe but I don’t think the answer is to teach that person how to share Jesus with strangers. Is being shy a medical issue or a relational issue? Could it be that this shy individual simply needs more relationships, and more love from people who care about her? Could it be that as she becomes a disciple, she will be more comfortable sharing with others through natural relationships? Could it be that the individual on the plane was the type of person that God would use a person like me to reach and God would use a shy person to reach another shy person?
Point is – I see the temptation to make type C or D personality into a type A witnessing for Christ Christian, but I think that our temptation to do this is us trying to be God again.
At aplacetotalk we are trying our best to be an organization of level leadership. No hierarchy. In other words we don’t elect leaders, we watch for leaders to naturally develop. Instead of electing a leadership team, we have decided to recognize the respected people among us.
Examples of natural leaders are those people who open up their house and host a group of people for a small group Bible Study. These natural leaders don’t attempt to manipulate or control, they simply invite and people participate. These natural leaders teach a class and people show up to learn, they plan an event and others come to participate, they start a group and people join. The typical institution “pastor” type feels the need to make this happen, he promotes a person to a position of leadership and tries to make him or her a leader. I would say that there isn’t anything wrong with that, except I think there is. When we make leaders, we have to sustain leaders. When we promote people who aren’t naturally becoming what God is making them, we put people into leadership without the natural God given tools for that leadership.
With natural leaders, those who respond to their leadership respond because they see that the leader is selflessly giving his or herself away. The selfless giving is both the evidence that a person is ready to lead and the stimulus that draws participation. When we (not God) promote leaders we give men and women a taste of power and power corrupts.
Would you pray with me, that God raises up leaders at aplacetotalk? I’m at the point where it is tempting to train leaders again, but I know that is a move toward institutionalism. We don’t need another institutional church, there are plenty of them all around the country and I would rather not develop another one. Pray that we at aplacetotalk will have the courage to wait on God and allow him to lead us.
It is my prayer that this huge generation of church planters across America will have the courage to make disciples of Jesus Christ, and not of themselves. Dear Jesus, help me to relax, trust, and follow Your will and direction. Help me to live in a perpetual state of Sabbath Rest, always listening to the Spirit of God that is placing Your direction in my mind and writing Your law on my heart. Amen