Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve seen quite a bit of rage and Christian drama recently. First, the U.S. branch of World Vision (a Christian charity) in the span of two days publicly announced that they were going to hire individuals in homosexual marriages–only to rescind the decision to days later in an outpouring of Christian leaders, bloggers, and financial supporters going up at arms. You can read the Christianity Today announcements of both decisions here.
Second, the Hollywood Blockbuster “Noah” recently hit the big screen. And the Christian community erupted again. Some Christians loved the artful telling of the story, while others raged that it strayed too far from the Biblical account. They labeled it “evil”.
Confession time. I really want to play Grand Theft Auto V. Like real bad.
It beckons me… It calls to me… Purchase me… Play me… Explore my vast, life-like world.
Not only am I a Christian, but I’m also a pastor who plays video games. [insert gasp here]
There’s this unspoken expectation that pastors don’t play games. They only do spiritual things like feed the poor and go on short-term mission trips. Maybe, just maybe if they are cool and hip can occasionally go fly-fishing and watch the Lord of the Rings movies. That’s okay. And maybe, just maybe youth pastors can play some video games– like sport games, Mario Kart, or Left Behind.
But pastors surely shouldn’t play games that involve shooting nazi zombies in the face. Or games were you may cast spells. Only Gandalf gets to cast spells. There’s an exception for that some where. I think in Leviticus.
This week I traveled to a Catalyst One Day Conference hosted at Willow Creek Church in the Suburbs of Chicago. It was a fantastic day of worship from the North Point Band and teachings from Pastor Andy Stanley of North Point Church and Pastor Craig Groeschel of LifeChurch.tv. I was impressed with their courage to tell us to care for our families and focus on the big pictures of our ministry rather than the mundane.
But, there’s a greater lesson that I need to learn. It’s a lesson that I have been failing at for about as long as I can remember. What’s that lesson?
my heart is tempted by fame
Whenever I tour a multimillion dollar church, or listen to a published and world-renowned leader, my heart aches to be like them, to work with them, or to be noticed by them. When I was rounding third base on my seminary degree last year– I applied for jobs at mega churches, I tried to self promote myself via blogs and published articles, and I was magnetically attracted to anyone that seemed to have a one way ticket to stardom.
But, God clearly brought me somewhere else. He undeniably chose me to join a church in a small, midwestern town. And while I may not be here forever, I feel like I need to act like I might be.
One of the chronic diseases of my millennial generation is to take a short cut to success–to become someone who everyone recognizes and someone who everyone wants to be with. Our hearts ache to be movie stars, but God’s plan for world change looks a little different.
It looks like a simple carpenter who loved the unloveable. It looks like a God who partners with you and me to reach our friends, family, and neighbors. Guys like Andy and Craig, God bless them and may they keep doing what God has gifted them to do–because God didn’t chose them to be the pastor of my flock.
Welcome to something new. My name is Matt, and I am a pastor in a little town you’ve never heard of.
I’m in my 20’s, married with a baby girl, and am trying to figure this whole “being a pastor” thing out. I’ll probably never be a Billy Graham, Bill Hybels, Andy Stanley, or Dallas Willard. But I love the Lord, and I know that it’s forgettable, unknown pastors like me that will change the world.
How so? When someone gets sick in my community, I visit them. Not Billy. When someone questions their faith, I will listen to them. Not Andy. This country is full of nobody’s like me–who God marvelously chooses to use to build his flock.
Oh, and I’m also a Millennial, and I won’t apologize for it. We have our flaws, but this is the generation that God has placed me and this generation speaks the language I speak.
I love movies. I love cups of coffee. I love video games. I despise Christian radio. I tweet. I instagram. And I’m excited to see how God will draw this generation to his heart.