mega pastors

“It became obvious why Catholics had built such beautiful cathedrals and churches throughout the world. Not as gathering or meeting places for Christians. But as a home for Jesus Himself in the Blessed Sacrament. Cathedrals house Jesus. Christians merely come and visit Him. The cathedrals and churches architecturally prepare our souls for the beauty of the Eucharist.”

Allen R. Hunt (Confessions of a Mega Church Pastor: How I Discovered the Hidden Treasures of the Catholic Church)

St. Peter’s Church Vienna Austria - Peterskirche Panorama by MOhab Karram, via 500px

I think the Christian media needs to quit this trend of latching onto vaguely spiritualized quotes from actors and artists and then labeling them “fearlessly faithful in a secular world.” It perpetuates a wrong divide between faith and culture, and at its core is merely smug ammo to secure our ivory towers.  It’s already enough that we force mega-church pastors on a pedestal of celebrity. They’re people too, and such impossible expectations only breed false accusations of hypocrisy. I don’t want to diminish the genuine faith of those in the spotlight, but I think the church needs to stop digging for non-existent nuggets of click-bait to validate an idolatrous “me-too” mentality. We can only pray for those who have been gifted with the unique platform of influence. And maybe support the unknown few who are doing the unsung work of ground-level change and charity.

Forgetting How To Be, Reclaiming How To Breathe

I met with my counselor the other day, a semi-famous mega-church pastor here in town, and I had really forgotten what it’s like to be around someone who is so comfortable with himself that it made me comfortable with myself.

My counselor is one of those cool pastors who smokes cigars and uses dirty words and he used to be a rich drug dealer, so he owns this huge house and hosts these extravagant church parties with hundreds of curious people looking for real spirituality. He does this without even really trying to impress anyone, and with sort of a wink. Once I was leaving his office after a meet and he yells down the hallway of his church, “I’ll keep praying about your porn problem.” The very conservative staff glanced at me and I ran and he couldn’t stop laughing.  My counselor reminds me of Jesus.

So I told him everything. How I blew up on someone the other day. How I was juggling multiple ministries plus a growing blog.  How dissatisfied I was with the mainstream church.  How I haven’t talked to my dad in over a year.  How I was fighting anger and unforgiveness and lust. How I always felt like I was pouring out of an empty cup, and that the same grace I preached for others was almost never reserved for myself.

I told him I had this monster inside me, barely underneath the surface just coiled around my guts, and just when I thought I was making “Christian progress” and it was dead, it would lash out and destroy everything I love and then go right back to hiding.  I wanted this thing inside me to really, truly, eternally die.

Then he looks at me and says, “You’re not really walking with God.”
I was almost offended.  But he was right.  He went on.

“You’re doing so much, just do, and you lost who you are.  You find who you are, then you can do again.”

“So what do I do now?”  As soon as I said it, I heard it.  I said “do” again.
He said, “Pray.  I mean we’re both in ministry, you already know that.  But you see how we’re talking?  How you can tell me anything?  How I can just be me around you?  That’s prayer.  Praying is like breathing.  It’s a way of life that can happen all the time.  That’s walking with Him.”

I think I was trying not to weep. I remember when it was like that, when I felt like I was walking with Him all the time. When being with God was like breathing. I did want that again. And it was not a matter of doing, but being.

He said, “It’s okay to pour out when you’re empty. You can’t do that for a long time, but that’s grace. You can preach grace all day and be a legalist to yourself.  Quit listening to yourself and listen to Him. And don’t preach too far ahead of yourself. If it’s been hard, then preach that it’s been hard.”

We hugged for a long time. He told me he loved me. Before we parted, he said, “I wish I could tear that monster out of you.  Let God inside, and He will.”

— J.S.

godgirlthings-deactivated201507  asked:

Hello pastor! I had a question and was thinking of someone who would help me, you came to my mind because of how much God uses you to inspire me. So, I'm a bit confused. My dad and I were talking about how women are not allowed to lead in certain churches and if it's right for a woman to be the leader of a church, could you let me know what the Bible says about this? Thank you so much, God bless you!!

Hey dear friend, I know this is a very divisive issue with many viewpoints, and I know we won’t all see eye-to-eye on it. I did write a super-long post that partially answers your question here:

- Mega-Post: Female Pastors, Neo-Feminism, and The Scary Words Submission, Quiet, and Penis

(Please forgive the sassy, off-color title. I wrote this when I was a little bit more snarky, back in the day.)

I’m very much open to women being leaders in the church – mainly because the early church was so pro-women that it would be impossible to say it’s not. I mean the church herself is called the “bride,” and I just don’t think theologians can keep word-playing themselves out of that one. The verses we’ve used to “shut down” women in church are surrounded by a much larger context that requires some digging. And if anything, the Bible is incredibly tough on men, with a much more brash upright tone with them. If men are about to use the Bible as a patriarchal tool, they better cut out all the parts from Genesis to maps. And if men are so desperate to be leaders: I hope we know what we’re getting into. That’s not some kind of easy position to play around with.

The Book of Nehemiah shows men, women, children, and different social classes rebuilding the city of Jerusalem. Women were essentially the “first Christians,” having discovered the empty tomb and the risen Jesus. Phoebe is a deacon. Lydia was a rich young fashionista who gave safe refuge for missionaries. The couple Priscilla and Aquila are always mentioned with the wife’s name first, and order was quite important in the Greek Scriptures (notice that Judas is constantly named last in every list of the disciples, along with what he did). I could go on.

I understand that many conservative-leaning churches will interpret the Bible to have zero female leaders, and I don’t claim a superior interpretation over them. It’s not “my right thinking” versus “their outdated ways.” It’s a doctrinal difference that doesn’t decide our ultimate eternity with God. It’s not an issue we have to fight over. In the huge scheme of things, I’m probably more concerned with helping the poor or stopping human trafficking or counseling a suicidal friend. But I will always encourage and promote female leadership in church.

– J.S.

champagmema  asked:

Hi! I was wondering what your input would be on this post. It bothered me a bit and I want to defend these scriptures, but I'm not sure how. The scriptures are, Psalm 137:9, 1 Timothy 2:12, Deuteronomy 22:28, Exodus 21:7, Leviticus 25:44, Numbers 25:4, Jeremiah 48:10 and Ezekiel 9:5. Thanks!

Hey dear friend, for easy reference, all the verses are listed here.

One thing I learned in seminary was that without context, there is no content.

These verses by themselves look absurd, and in fact, I will wrestle with a lot of the Bible until my time on earth is done. At the same time, many of these problematic verses have adequate explanations behind them when you can dive into the history and background.

This is really an issue of trust. If I approach the Bible with my modern Westernized preconceived bias, I will naturally find things to hate about the Bible, no matter how much they’re explained to me. If I trust that the God of the Bible is good, loving, and compassionate, then I will naturally find a logical rationale, even as I admit that some verses are harder to understand than others. I could argue both for and against these verses if I really wanted to. It’s a matter of choosing to trust Him, or not. If I don’t, I won’t. If I do, there’s a plethora of insight and wisdom that will jump out of Scripture. It all depends on who I believe that God is first.

For the record, I absolutely believe that God is against genocide, misogyny, polygamy, bigotry, slavery, and oppression. God never condones these things. When people choose them in the Bible, it always goes bad, and God has to begin His re-shaping. Often times in the Old Testament, God is working within a misshapen world of terrible consequences, in which He must prescribe the better of two bad options. As many times as we run into moral dilemmas, I can’t imagine how God must orchestrate our innumerable amount of imperfections towards an eternal good. He probably has a headache like all the time. I’m just glad I don’t have His job.

I’ll leave you with a few posts that might help with some groundwork over these passages. Please feel free to skip around or to skip them altogether. 

- The Down-Low on The Old Testament Commands

- God Seems A Little Crazy In The Old Testament — A Mega-Post on the OT

- Mega-Post: Female Pastors, Neo-Feminism, and The Scary Words Submission, Quiet, and Penis

- So About God’s Punishment and Wrath: A Mega-Post On Theology That Bothers Us

– J.S.