I was asked by Wes to share my story with our community group Sunday night. It’s been awhile since I’ve done any sort of public speaking and although I think I stumbled through it a little, I feel it went pretty well.
After leaving, I sent a tweet saying “Blogging about my story is one thing, sharing it in front of 40 people in my community group is another. Grateful for this journey”. I got a reply from Makeda saying “you sharing your story so courageously is giving others permission to be courageous too so keep telling it.”
Have you ever been around someone who is always full of fear, and before you knew it you find yourself just feeling fearful out of the blue? What about someone who is just bursting at the seams with faith? I don’t care how discouraged you may be, you can’t be around that kind of person long without your faith being built. And what about courage? If you spend much time in the company of a courageous person it makes you feel brave and courageous.
Fear begets fear.
Faith begets faith.
Courage begets courage.
I’d like to introduce you to Pastor Barbie, however I have a feeling she needs no introduction. In fact, if you’re like me you have been well acquainted with Pastor Barbie for a very, very long time. I’m really not interested in discussing the theology of the Biblical justification or legitimacy of Barbie’s pastorate or whether or not she should wear make-up, cover her head when she prays or speak in tongues when non-believers are present in the service. Just flow with the metaphor here…
Pastor Barbie doesn’t cuss, gossip and covets neither her neighbor’s livestock nor flat-screen HD television. Pastor Barbie doesn’t speed, listen to secular music and never leaves home without her Bible. Pastor Barbie doesn’t struggle with porn, has never had an abortion and her husband, Co-Pastor Ken, is the first and only man she kissed, but not until they said “I do,” of course. Pastor Barbie doesn’t drink, chew or run with those who do. Pastor Barbie has never doubted, always trusted and rarely wondered.
In fact, she’s kind of… perfect. You know Pastor Barbie.
Pastor Barbie has never done ANYTHING wrong, let alone thought about it. She walks right, spits white and is a pristine model of salvation and shining beacon of the light of Jesus to every one of the perfect plastic people in her church. Except… *GASP*… the perfect plastic people in her church aren’t really perfect or plastic. In fact, they are very real, have very real struggles, fight very real battles each and every day and have doubts and questions. And there, ladies and gentlemen, is where we have a conflict.
You see, when Pastor Barbie’s congregation looks at her, they believe they see what faith should look like. But they are conflicted, so they struggle, wrestle and feel defeated, confident that something must be wrong with them because, after all, “if Pastor Barbie isn’t struggling, why am I?” There is a disconnect between what they see and what they feel, so they ignore what they feel and the great masquerade deepens in their quest to one day be as “spiritual” as Pastor Barbie.
I grew up in a “Pastor Barbie” setting where no one ever confessed or admitted to struggling with ANYTHING, especially anyone in any kind of leadership role. Never. Ever. This created an environment where we would jump through all kinds of religious hoops and be really good at “church”, but really suck at life.
“Pastor Barbie” churches present a pretense-soaked, dysfunctional and unrealistic PULPIT CULTURE that, in turn, creates and nurtures an equally, if not more so, pretense-soaked, dysfunctional and unrealistic PEW CULTURE.
I’ve been thinking about the whole pulpit culture/pew culture concept lately, and observing the huge difference between what I have spent much of my life accustomed to compared with what I am experiencing at Cross Point Church, where I now attend.
Prior to coming to Cross Point, I had never been part of a church where such a radical and courageous transparency was the norm and so much a part of that church’s DNA. Earlier this year, when speaking about Freedom From Sexual Sin, Pete Wilson stood in the pulpit and said “there is no other sin in my life that has made me feel more more shameful, more beat up and more destroyed than sexual sin. Nothing.”… and I about fell out of my seat. Are you kidding me?!?! I can count on one finger the times when I have heard a pastor be so real and vulnerable, and this was it. It really struck me and I couldn’t help but wonder, “why is this the exception?!?!”
In dramatic contrast to “Pastor Barbie” churches, Cross Point has created an honest, real-life and transformational PULPIT CULTURE which, in turn, creates and nurtures an equally, if not more so, honest, real-life and transformational PEW CULTURE.
The people you lead are a mirror and the PEW CULTURE at your church or organization is quite often a direct reflection of the PULPIT CULTURE shaped by the leadership.
There is something wildly contagious about the humbly transparent yet courageous spirit of a Pete Wilson… or a Justin Davis to so openly share the testimony about his affair and God’s redemption and restoration of his family… or a Blake Bergstrom being so boldly, unpredictably, uniquely and unashamedly “Blake”… that empowers people to embrace that same courage, step forward and say “here’s my story.” I’m not sure that Sheila, the former crackhead prostitute, would feel welcome at Pastor Barbie’s church.
Whether intentionally or unintentionally, they have created a PULPIT CULTURE that does not claim to be perfect, but is as close a reflection of what I believe to be the heart of the Father than anything I’ve ever encountered.
There is something about giving people permission to be broken that brings healing.
That. Rocks. Me.
…and it scares the hell out of the enemy of our souls!
I am so grateful to God for leading me to Cross Point and for the genuine community I have discovered there. I am encouraged by each limp that I see and seeing the scars is showing me hope. It is the fellowship of the redeemed, restored and redefined… and it is healing my heart. Cross Point truly is a place where “everybody’s welcome, nobody’s perfect and anything is possible”… and for the first time in my life, I truly believe that.
If you are a leader, what kind of PULPIT CULTURE are you creating and how do you see that reflected in the PEW CULTURE at your church?
If you’re not a leader, what kind of PEW CULTURE do you feel has been created as a result of the PULPIT CULTURE at your church?