Something a Pharisee might say

If you were a Pharisee, it would have been your responsibility to question Jesus.

You are, after all, a teacher of all things religious. If some man came around proclaiming to be God’s anointed, which many men did, the rest of us would trust your judgment. We’d wonder what you had to say about his claims.

That’s what the Pharisees did. Think of Nicodemus seeking out Jesus to talk to him. Some of the questions we know Pharisees asked Jesus are legitimate. After a while, though, what we see happening is that they decided to not believe him. Their inquiries morphed into holy ambushes.

By the time we get to John 8, Jesus has done much to demonstrate his belief that God his Father sent him to the world. Jesus offered signs pointing to his identity and the Pharisees chose to either ignore them or reject them altogether.

That’s not what we want to do, right?

We have recognized that Jesus is the Christ. That’s why we worship and follow him–not just go to a worship service and call ourselves Christians.

Now, allow me to make a turn here. It may feel unrelated, but I promise it’s not. Trust me.

Actually, don’t merely trust me. Listen to what I’m saying. Pray and reflect upon what ideas I’m offering to you. Compare what you hear from me with what we read in scripture.

There have been too many instances of pastors making the testimony of Jesus their own.

In John 8, the Pharisees want a witness to testify on behalf of Jesus. According to Jesus, he doesn’t have one and doesn’t need one. He’s his own witness. Actually, not only do I testify on my behalf, but God does, too. You can’t see God, but he’s testifying right now for me.

More and more, we are learning about pastors, propped up by large money-producing ministries, taking advantage of their position. There’s an entire industry built like this. And there are many others who forego their integrity for the chance to enjoy such ministry success.

In part, they’ve used this Jesus-like stance. Essentially, it goes like this: I am called by God. Don’t question me. That’s kin to questioning God. I speak for God and who are you to question me?

Does that sound like something some Pharisees might say?

The results of all this are disastrous. It is sin. The gravest issue is the hurt and abuse people experience as a result. Then there’s the church’s witness to consider.

How do we avoid all this?

I read a tweet that said, “Want to know if you have a healthy pastor? Disagree with them.”

I’m not asking you to be contrary. That’s not a helpful attitude. 

But let’s hold ourselves accountable to one another. Let’s continually ask if our decisions, our ideas, our attitudes and our worship are truly rooted and pointing to Jesus.

Stay blessed…john

Whose rules?

COVID forced our clergy convocation online again this year. I do miss gathering with my colleagues. As a United Methodist pastor myself, these other pastors are my church. They are the people I see year in and year out as we serve our conference together.

I’ve known many of them since before I became a pastor.

I value worshiping and learning with them.

This year’s convocation centered on Susan Beaumont’s book titled How to Lead When You Don’t Know Where You’re Going. This is an affirming book for me.

Although I didn’t appreciate having to sit through another online meeting, especially one that lasted several hours on two different day, Beaumont’s presentation was helpful.

It’s about learning to lead the church through uncertain times. That sounds too cliche. There’s more to it than that, but I hadn’t planned to unpack everything here.

One point she brought up today was Robert’s Rules of Order. She didn’t address it as an overarching theme; I don’t know if it’s in her book. Her comment was something about why church leadership holds on so tightly to Robert’s Rules.

Thank you!

I recall my first administrative council meeting at a church. Ever since that day, I’ve wondered why we’re married to that discernment process like we are. To me, there’s less discernment happening and more politics at play.
There are other forms of discernment. I’m not suggesting we read entrails again. And I don’t mean to say we shouldn’t use Robert’s Rules at all.

But we are better suited at changing the world with the way of Christ, not Robert.

Stay blessed…john