I’ll start by admitting that my hip factor is decreasing the older I get. I do what I can. My kids and I really enjoy Christian rap artists like Lecrae, Trip Lee and Jackie Hill Perry. My personal feelings on music is that there is not Christian and Non-Christian music but rather good music and bad music. The challenge comes with rap as many rappers who I would agree are very talented have lyrics that I don’t think are helpful to anyone’s ears especially young ears.
I was watching the Grammy’s this year as is my custom (Primarily to live tweet and to read the tweets of others). This years Grammy’s were particularly awful. The technical errors and poorly executed tributes to fallen artists made the Grammy’s difficult to watch. There were a few exceptions one was by an artist new to me Chance the Rapper. He opened with Chris Tomlin’s “How Great is Our God.” Something you don’t usually hear at the Grammy’s.
I remember when I first heard the term “partnering with parents.” It was at an Orange Conference in 2009. It was revolutionary for me personally as I saw parents for what the Scripture had always described them. Parents are the primary means God uses in the life of a child to come to an understanding the gospel in the context of relationship. Jump forward several years and I am still personally wrestling through what does that look like for me as a dad and for the church I serve? It was just two weeks ago I had this conversation with several other kids pastors we were discussing how to make this commonly shared understanding a reality. I really want to thank Reggie and his team for bringing the family to the forefront of the mission and vision of so many churches. The fact we could have that conversation about how to practically partner with parents only happened because we all assume it’s necessary.
Rather than me telling you partnering with parents is necessary, because I assume that we both agree it is. Let me ask you a question.
What does Partnering with Parents mean to you? In your church what do you do to leverage the influence parents have in the lives of their kids?
For me partnering with parents used to mean tools and information. Today it means discipleship. The longer I serve in the same church and the more I follow Christ what I become aware of more keenly is my need to follow and to lead others to do the same. To partner with parents isn’t about programs and tools although it uses those means from time to time. To help parents spiritual lead their kids and families, parents need to be disciples and know how to make disciples. As kids pastors, we need to take a collective step backward and figure out how we can equip, disciple and train parents so they understand and can use the tools we are so eager to hand out.
What does that mean for us?
Ah my dear angry Lord,
Since thou dost love, yet strike;
Cast down, yet help afford;
Sure I will do the like.
I will complain, yet praise;
I will bewail, approve:
And all my sour-sweet days
I will lament, and love.
God sometimes does the opposite of what we desire. In response, we must more often act in the reverse of how we feel.
There is no more fundamental description of what the role of a pastor should be than the role of a shepherd. There was a season of life where I was only reading leadership books. They have great advice and fantastic insight they can help you be a better leader which we should all strive to be. The fundamental flaw in being a pastor who strives to be a CEO versus a pastor as a shepherd is the focus of what you do and the motivations behind what you do.
A CEO is driven by the need for efficiency and measurable outcomes. They make the mistake of being efficient with people so you can be effective in ministry. This is where we make our fatal flaw as ministers we think that we are judged by some elusive bottom line, and in the frenetic pace of ministry we kill ourselves trying to make it across some finish line we have set up for ourselves, but we never end up crossing. We burn up and burn out because we become disillusioned with the pace and the culture of pastoral ministry.
You Are an Undershepherd, Not an Owner.
We live in a very entrepreneurial culture. If you build it, they will come. The dream you have can be realized, you can be a self-made man. While all these things are true to a point as a pastor, you will never be satisfied with your work if these are the ideas you have about pastoral ministry. As a pastor, you are more of an undershepherd than even a Shepherd. We are stewards, not owners. A steward recognizes that he doesn’t set his goals or achieve his outcomes. A steward’s job description is to take care of and grow his flock for the person whom he works. When we are the owner we tend to obsess over outcomes rather than the hard work of planting, loving and trusting. When we see ourselves as the owner we are shaken when things happen that we can’t understand. As a CEO we don’t think anything as above our paygrade, as an undershepherd, we have a greater capacity for mystery because in ministry there are many things that don’t make sense.
A few months ago I was in a Chipotle in New York City with my wife. We were doing our best to keep to ourselves and not make eye contact so as to fit in with the natives of New York City. As we were successfully avoiding eye contact there was a group of college students that were sitting next to me they started talking about abortion. What brought me into the conversation something I don’t typically do was the fact two of the three were self-professing Christians the third was Jewish. They were discussing abortion and if it was ok, one of the Christians said that he could prove that abortion is ok from a biblical perspective. I could hold back no further I joined the conversation uninvited because I had to speak for those who literally can’t speak for themselves. I found myself unintentionally using my friend Dr. Scott Klusendorf’s SLED defense. It is a powerful defense against those who argue that a baby is not a baby and just a collection of tissue.
Here is Dr. Klusendorf explaining his SLED method in less than three minutes. I beg you to carve a few minutes to inform yourself for the next conversation you may have with those contemplating having an abortion or those advocating that abortion is a viable option.
Today let’s stand with the Evangelical community as they are marching on Washington to pray, and bring awareness to life. It won’t get the coverage that the Pro-Abortion “Woman’s March” got but what matters is that we continue to fight for the life of babies that are taken daily in this country due to the gods of ignorance, convenience, and pleasure.