Pastor(s). Your Experience is Killing You. The Rules Have Changed. Get Better.

   If you are of any age, you have come to a point where your experience actually works against you. That is, all the rules of the ministerial "game" have been changed by the advent of technology, loss of respect for age and the coming of a large generational group with the attention span of a gnat.

   In fact, your job is absolutely impossible because you must address three generational metaphors across your congregation, each of them irreconcilable to the other two and all three insistent on their prerogatives. In order, they are:

  1. Traditionalists, whose generational metaphor is conformity. These are the people who are pretty sure their churches will fill up again when we get back to mass meetings, two revivals a year and a little more hellfire and damnation.
  2. Moderns, whose generational metaphor is control, in the sense of business type controls. We need rules, systems, mechanisms and some really smart manager to keep it all oiled.  We need mass production techniques. We want to reduce the gospel to a fews laws and rules to get you started and then ask, "Is there any reason you should not buy this product (pray this prayer ) with me today?" Watch us. We will have you buying Enron shares before you know what you are doing.
  3. Millenials, whose generational metaphor is community; deep feelings for others based on connections across wired tech or a table at Starbucks. These are good people. They just don't know anything much more than technology. Ask one to balance his checkbook. Hilarity ensues. The millennials cross the spectrum of consecrative to super liberal, all the while looking for an  ideology they can tap into and absolutely insistent on a social position they have not earned.

   Welcome to your world, pastor.

   The rules have changed.

   The rules of basketball have changed as well. For instance, the advent of the three point shot has totally changed the game. Field goal per centage is not what it used to be. Coaches know they can hit a three once in three times and do about what they were doing with a set, pound it inside offense. Take that per centage to 35% and mix in free throws. You are never actually out of a twenty point game.

   Now take in another rule change. That is the dunk shot. When I played high school ball the dunk shot was illegal. This did not matter much to my team because trampolines on the court were also illegal and that was the only way any of us were getting to the rim. We were very Caucasian; ran too long in the same spot and jumped like a herd  of arthritic rhinoceri.

   What did these two rule changes do? The restoration of the dunk shot meant we needed bigger people, so people got bigger. The three point shot meant we needed people who could stop and pop out front, coming off a screen or finding a lazy spot in the defence after reversing the ball three times in the set. So, people who were faster, more coordinated and able to shoot emerged.

   So, recruiting (even on the high school level) changed (everyone does it; the ones who cry about it are the ones who can't get it done; sorry), coaching and training/conditioning became very different. Girl's teams today do conditioning we did not know to do with boys twenty years ago. There are girls who routinely drop threes and a few girls who play above the rim. In my day, there were not many boys who could shoot from outside and hardly any who had real hops. Ok, ups. Ok, could jump. Get off my back.

  The rules changed, so we got better.

   Are you listening? Or reading? Or did you already quit?

   The rules changed, so we got better.

   I, too, remember the good old days. There are guys from the good old days who could play at any age. The advent of the black player, the dunk and the three point shot means there are even more from the old days who could coach at a high level. The could coach, because they could make the mental adjustments but they would get undressed on the court. One good Kobe crossover and the old timer would need an equipment check and two ankle braces.

   We still have to have the fundamentals. You cannot imagine how I love to hear the kids' shoes squeal on the court when they dig hard to play clamp-down D. I love to watch them drop step, block out, swell big to take space or set a real, legal screen. Rebounds and free throws will still win most games. You  can look it up.

   I get lost in the game. My biggest problem as a referee is ball-watching. I leave my area of primary responsibility sometimes to see what is happening ball-side and then someone on my side gets bloody.

   The game has changed. We have to get better. 


   Well, you can read here at aintsobad.

   Then, you can  learn to make the mental adjustments. You bring some stuff to the table. Let's learn to play to your strengths. Unless you are Magic Johnson, I don't use a 6"10' guy to bring up the ball or put a "5'2" kid down on the blocks in a 5-A game; not if I am lucid and wish to win.

   Not if I love the 5'2" kid or the 6'10" foot shuffler. If I love them, I put them in the best spot for them and then I coach them up the best I can, with a shoulder to cry on or a swift kick when they need it. If I love them, I help them get their 10,000 hours.

   Who is helping our pastors get their 10,000 hours, the first or the next?

   Let me help you, if you can be helped. Here is one way to start:

   Make discipleship religious only as a last resort.

   Let's start there tomorrow, if we live. If not, better days, better days, better days.



2 thoughts on “Pastor(s). Your Experience is Killing You. The Rules Have Changed. Get Better.”

  1. If the rules have changed, would it not be better to play by the new rules? Or even to play by the next set of rules, thereby beating the curve?
    Most people lose interest in the church during their teenage years, so should we not focus our energies on that age group? Not to say that adults are a lost cause, but we know that prevention is better than cure.

  2. Ann Sheffield-Knobel

    Rick, what can I say? Except we will miss you and know that God has bigger and better plans for you and your ministry, hard to accept but acceptable. Ron and I hope to keep in touch and please know of our deepest appreciation for what you have done for us and our family. We will carry on with our church family and hope and pray that the residue will be more healing than hurting. We were totally surprised! Take the ‘high road’ and you will be blessed. Our Love,
    Ann and Ron Knobel and all the family
    more healing than hurting.

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