Pastor(s). Young. Wired. Weird. All Over Again. Again.

      The appropriate question at the end of an evangelistic presentation, for me, is this, "Do you understand what it will cost you to make this commitment to Christ?"

   For years, we have used a wonderful, sixties style business model for evangelism, where we boiled the gospel down to four or five propositions, focused by some meaningful "diagnostic questions" and ending with some variation of the question, "Is there any reason why you should not buy this product?" What we actually ask is more religious sounding ("Is there any reason you should not pray this prayer with me today") but, in truth, we have made a business proposition and we are now trying to "close the deal."

   The better the closer(s) the bigger the church. Since God can do a lot with a little a lot of people have probably changed their lives with this approach.

   It is, however, disingenuous, propositional and rather lacking in the incarnational. There is a promise of cheap purchase and great reward, absent the cost counting Jesus preferred, Luke 14:25-35.

   "You, too," we seem to say, "can lose weight sitting on your sofa, if you send us $14.99, plus postage and handling." Really, though,  sitting on your sofa is what made you fat, wasn't it, and it is unlikely you will get hard-bodied there.

   No, your life will have to change, and the world might change with you, but the world will surely not change because you send me $14.99 so you can sit on your sofa. You will have to get up, change your life-style and get on with life.

   I know you are lost, young pastor. You have all this energy, all these ideas and no one able to tell you what to do with your energy and ideas.

   So, here are some boards to use for building your forms:

  • Love gray hair. Find a mentor/coach who can give you his/her wisdom. Look to see if there is any courage there first.
  • Do not think this mentor-coach will be your mentor-coach for more than a season.
  • Read something besides pop religion. No, really. The hottest guy you read is not the greatest, he is just the latest.
  • Plan your next 10,000 hours of practice. Where do you want to improve? What will you do to get better?
  • Pay the price.

   At the end of last season, I was in trouble as a referee. I did too many games, ate too little, seldom rehydrated and put way too much trust in pain killers. I dragged my left leg out of the season, could not breathe, felt truly,truly tired.

   In the offseason, I visited some people who knew. A skilled surgeon invaded my head, removing clusters of polyps and infection. He made me some sinuses, so I could breathe.

   A physical theapist forbade me to do the eliptical machine, to run or to lift weights. She put me on the stationary bike, which thing I hate, and told me that was my workout for five months, minimum. I rode around the world seven times and never moved from the spot.

   When I got released to resume actual workouts, I was six weeks from the season and in no shape to start. I briefly considered sitting out this year but the guys had elected me president of the chapter and this precluded abstention in my view.

   So, I approached another professional and listened to what she said. My trainer changed my workout, lowered my weight, introduced me to eating again and knocked down my body fat by 7% in two months. The floor (court in the gym) is much shorter this year. I ache (a hard wood court will take its toll) but I am not dragging my left leg behind me, wincing with every step this year.

   I realistically counted the cost and paid the price. You can do the same. In fact, because you are younger, you have the time for more 10,000 hour segments than I possess. For me, the sun is no longer ascendant, nor even overhead. It is at about three 0'clock in the afternoon, still strong and bright, sometimes still hot,  but moving toward the final twilight I long for so much. The next sundown is, after all, the next great adventure.

   While I still remember the morning, I would like to save you some missteps. Listen, those who have ears to hear. I will stay no longer in the company of dolts and cowards.

   As I hear the kids say on the court, "Don't bring that weak stuff in here."

   You can think. You can work. You can act. You can get better.

   Get up and get at it.

  

7 thoughts on “Pastor(s). Young. Wired. Weird. All Over Again. Again.”

  1. You said:
    It is, however, disingenuous, propositional and rather lacking in the incarnational. There is a promise of cheap purchase and great reward, absent the cost counting Jesus preferred, Luke 14:25-35.
    And I said:
    Amen.
    You are the only denomination evangelism director (current or former) who would be bold enough to speak such truth. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
    When will the church learn that we are called to discipleship, which is not a program you can purchase at Lifeway? It’s about losing our lives for His sake. Not hanging onto whatever we can justify and only adding Christ’s teachings where they seem to benefit us.
    I love you, Rick. Keep up the good work.
    MR

  2. Not to be murderous but rather edifying, for truly you DRick have hit many nerves and lightened many darkened corners of my brain with this, perhaps your greatest series yet, but it is not my experience that God does not offer reward, it is my experience that the reward has become a such an expectation that many think it a right. My own earliest experience in committing to Christ was one of great reward, while since perhaps my own nature has led me to count costs more than I should…twist and turns here for sure! but a reverse psycology is just another sales technique.
    John 21
    ‘3Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.
    4But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.
    5Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No.
    6And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.’
    Praise Wi and His Erd, the only begotten.

  3. Rick:
    “There is a promise of cheap purchase and great reward, absent the cost counting Jesus preferred, Luke 14:25-35.”
    This is correct.
    Jesus never said, “Follow me and I will get you into heaven.” He said, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” He never said, “Follow me and I will increase your material blessings.” He said, “Follow me and you may not have a place to lay your head.” Jesus didn’t use the promise of heaven as a “carrot stick” to get people to follow him. He used the vision of making your life count for something here on earth through sacrificial service.
    We have, for years, used the promise of heaven as the “carrot stick” to get people into the Christ-Life (and the church). We are now reaping the consequences … a weak and apathetic American Christianity just waiting to die and go to heaven.
    blessings,
    ellis

  4. RobeFRe closed his post with
    “Praise Wi and His Erd, the only begotten.”
    Maybe I need more coffee, but it makes no sense to me. Then Rick says his comment is sagacious – which makes me think I missed a class in college or seminary…
    Oh, well. It’s going to be a great day anyway! I get to worship God with members of the Kingdom this morning!

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