plastic pastors

i read a blog post today over at spitbox called "blog honesty". this guy is talking about how he reads a lot of christian bloggers, specifically pastors, and that they appear perfect because they never struggle with anything. i can see his point. i know that i struggle with being fake myself as a pastor. the problem is, people only want authenticity when it agrees with them. i don't know about the people over at caffeinated faith.com but i've had several conversations this week where i felt inauthentic.

i listened to a woman tell me that the music in our sunday morning church gatherings is too loud and that she doesn't want to have to leave the church, but that all her friends are mad and they might have to leave if the music doesn't get quieter.

that's garbage. she doesn't have to do anything. she and her friends can choose to leave the church because the volume of the music is more important than the relationships, teaching and other things the church has to offer. that's fine. just don't tell me you have to leave. that's a copout. (my language there was edited by me for public consumption. after all, i am a pastor)

but what did i actually say? "that's tough. i don't want to downplay the seriousness of your concern, but it's a very complicated issue where live instruments blah blah blah. and we'll never make everybody happy so we've chosen to focus on blah blah blah."

of course she didn't hear a word i said. she simply reinstated her plea as she left to be picked up by her husband who wouldn't even speak to me (being one of the main people who is offended by the loud music)

and then earlier this week a fella i know from around town who's a part of our church casually came into the office to reserve a space for a baby shower for he and his girlfriend's upcoming baby. I congratulated him excitedly because that's exactly what i was supposed to do.

what i really wanted to say was, " are you crazy? you weren't even sure how into this woman you were last time we talked. are you even gonna be around to raise this baby? she's already got another son you're gonna have to raise and, no offense, but i'm not sure you've thought this through." and of course they hadn't thought it through, it was an accident.

by the way, this isn't to say that i appreciate authenticity that i disagree with any more than the next person. i'm just acknowledging that this whole "emerging" or "emergent" or whatever-the-hell-you-wanna-call-it movement is extremely concerned with authenticity and yet, in my personal, totally fallible estimation, has neglected to count the cost of such open honesty. that's not to say that we shouldn't go there, let's just try not to romanticize it so much. i mean, what's romantic about a more complicated life, lots of hard conversations and a lot of hurt feelings that will, hopefully, with the holy spirit's involvement, lead to some growth in the long term?


T said...

You are exactly right in that there are times for "authenticity" (did I even spell it right?) and times for more of a tactful approach - especially in dealing with the examples you gave. I was thinking, and maybe should've written it a bit better, of those bloggers out there that every time you hit their site it's, "Our church is doing amazing - praise God...." or "My life is wonderful..." or...whatever. Those people who seem to ALWAYS have good news to share. At some point I just ask, "Is this guy for real? Nobody can have a day like that EVERYDAY!". I mean, seriously it seems like some pastors NEVER have a bad hair day or anything wrong. Which I know is not true since my dad, a pastor, never has a GOOD hair day. :)

Just wanted to share that with you!
God Bless!

Ryan Townsend said...

this is your best blog ever! to quote one of my favorite theologians
"i must be an acrobat to
act like this and talk like that
and you can dream
so dream out loud
and don't let the
bastards grind you down"

Ryan Townsend said...

by which I mean that I appreciate your honesty and authenticity. i think authenticity is a buzz word that people throw around in order to be (using another trendy word) relevant. however, like just about every biblical principle, authenticity requires timing, restraint and consideration for others...in short, the golden rule.

justin said...

thanks for the comments. t, i see where you're coming from and definitely agree. there is a difference between tact and bull$h!t. when there hasn't been a hiccup in the last 3 years, it seems like we might be into some serious image-manufacturing.

justin said...

ryan, if you like this post so much, why don't you marry it? oh, because you're already married? well then i guess you and this post will just have to live life, always wondering if there could've been something special between you. personally i think you're a lot better off with bekah and i hope you deal appropriately with your feelings toward this post.

and thanks for the comment and the kind words.