I Can’t Tell My Pastor That

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There is something in people that makes them want to share their personal stories, sin, and suffering with other people.  There is also something inside that makes them afraid to share with people they know well.

There is also something about art, music and lyrics specifically, which allows people to share their own stories.  Every day on the road and on the Internet, people share with us their stories, events, traumas, their own sin, brokenness, and pain.  We try to be gracious and thank them for sharing, and then I’ll usually ask something like, “Do you have people to help you deal with this?  Have you told anyone else?”  All too often the response is, “No, I can’t tell my family.  They wouldn’t understand.”  Then I’ll ask about their church and many will respond, “I can’t tell my pastor that.”

This statement troubles me for the following reasons:

  • Maybe you CAN tell him, you just don’t think you can.

Most pastors are actually more caring and compassionate than some think, but unfortunately they are often merely seen as “authority figures” or “bosses”.

Pastors are really more like shepherds.  Scripture explains this in 1 Peter 5:2-3.  Pastors are shepherds and are not to “lord over” their people but to “be examples to their flock”.  Jesus is the chief shepherd and is perfect.  His followers know to approach Him with troubles.  In fact, Jesus is the advocate to the Father.  If your pastor sees his role in this light, similar to Jesus’ role with all Christians, perhaps you CAN talk to your pastor after all.  However, it is also possible that your pastor doesn’t understand his role this way, and if so…

  • Then your church culture is very sick.

Sadly, there are many local churches that are sick and don’t even realize it.  There are many pastors and communities in which true confession and openness are not welcomed at all.  “Keeping up appearances” seems to be valued above openness.  This is especially common in older churches as well as more rural, suburban, and conservative areas.  But, lets not put this problem all on the pastor.

  • You should probably be telling people other than your pastor.

While pastors are to be imitators of Jesus, so is everyone else in the church.  We do not believe that information comes only from the teachers, nor that help is given by only the counselors, nor that conversion is handled by only the preacher.  All believers have the Holy Spirit, God’s written word, and direct access to God himself, through prayer.  WE as the COMMUNITY of believers are equipped to do all these things in Jesus’ name.

If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.  Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:15-16).

COMMUNITY is the big idea here.

In our recent post, It Sucks being Honest, Especially When You Care About Your Image, we were greatly encouraged at the willingness of people to share their stories, personal suffering, and struggles with sin.   At the same time we were very sad to know that many of those sharing are NOT able to do so in person with a close Christian community.   We believe that this continual openness among Christians in true community is one of the most important functions of the church.

When we talk about “Christian community” what we mean is being involved with other believers and not just “going to a church”.  We mean really being involved with people and being intentional in doing so.  This includes things like Bible studies, small groups, meeting the fellas for beers and wings, helping neighbors move, and setting up times to get brutally honest about what is going on in one’s life.  We all need this.  It isn’t even possible for us to make it alone.  The idea here is to build genuine relationships with multiple people at a deep enough level where it is safe to be open and honest.  I have no idea where I would be without this in my life; I couldn’t imagine the feeling of having no one that I could tell what was really going on.

If this concept of community sounds foreign to you and your local church is really lacking in this area, you have two choices:

  1. You need to be an agent of change in your community.  Seek this out and start within your existing community.
  2. You may need to seek a new community.  Perhaps you are in the middle of dealing with some very difficult stuff in your life and the church around you is letting you down by not obeying, trusting, and lifting up Jesus together as the only hope.

There are tons of churches where this type of community is supported and executed well, and yet there are not nearly enough of them.

We want this to be clear:

BadChristian loves and supports the local church.  We belong to and believe everyone SHOULD be at, serve, and support a local body of Christ.  Find a place that you can commit to and be under the authority of.  We do not endorse freelance Christians doing their own thing.  We are glad that many support this site, but its function is not to replace or undermine the local church, but rather to support and feed it.  In fact, it is one of our main goals to connect you guys with one another and the local church.

With that being said, here are just a few churches that we feel really get the importance of community.  If you are looking to connect with other brothers and sisters, check these out:

(list to be added to…)

Seacoast Church (North and South Carolina)

Mars Hill Church (Pacific Northwest, Orange County, Albuquerque)

Soma Communities (multiple US locations)

Acts 29 network (a network of over 400 churches worldwide)

Norman Community Church (Norman OK)

Bridgeway Church (Oklahoma City)

Grace Midtown (Atlanta)

Heritage Fellowship (Medford OR)

If you belong to a strong Christian community and would like to share it with us, please e-mail the name and location of the church/community to us at info@badchristian.com

follow Matt Carter on twitter @zodcarter

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