Today I had an interesting conversation while getting my number 2 guard haircut. I lovingly call my hair style "The Tennis Ball." It is short enough that if I sprayed it yellow it would appear to look and feel like a tennis ball. While getting my hair cut the lady asked me the first question, "so are you off today?" I jokingly said "yeah I pretty much set my own hours." She asked what I did and so I went on to explain to her that I am the pastor of Radiant Fellowship here in Waupaca. She stopped and looked at me and said, "You are a pastor? I would have not been able to tell because of your age and how you look." I was wearing camo shorts and my Tourniquet t-shirt (large rusty looking skull that says, "Where Moth and Rust Destroy" and yes it is a Christian metal group).
We began to talk about church and once again here is a lady that does not feel welcome to church because of her past. I will be the first to admit that I could get on her side right away but, I know that it is not always the churches fault when someone does not feel welcome. Any person that visits a church has to be willing to let their guard down in order to be accepted. The conversation took a hard bend towards what kind of people we accept at our church. On and on she went with different types of people ranging from divorced, Goth, and the million dollar question....do we accept people from the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Transgender) community at our church. She got a response I don't think she was expecting to get from a pastor. I said, "yes, with arms wide open." She was blown away by my response. Although she was not part of the LGBT community, people have a way of asking the extreme questions. She ended our time by saying, "That is a place worth checking out."
There is one thing I hate about being pastor, that is people assume I am like many of the others. There are so many other pastors I look up to and consider like-mindedness with me. Unfortunately, the common public don't know of the Rob Bells, Brian McLarens, Dan Kimball's of the world. They know the local church that turned their church life into a pile of garbage and won't go back again. I do church at the pub, I hang out with people the church may give up on, I engage in conversation with people from the LGBT community, I talk to people who have addictions, I try to befriend everyone from all walks of life. IT IS NOT FOR ME TO JUDGE THEM! I pray that if they come to church and even if they don't...I pray and entrust them to God that what needs to be changed will be changed. It is so important to establish friendship first.
Here is my philosophy on church....if we have a bunch of people who have arrived (or think they have arrived) and dress the same, act the same, look the same....we are no longer doing ministry. Awhile ago we had our windows open and the smell of cigarette smoke entered the church because of the ash trays we have outside the building. I turned to one of my board members and said, "do you smell that? That's the smell of ministry." Radiant Fellowship and I as the pastor have no desire to have a church that appears to have it all together. If church service begins and in walks a group of people that we have been hanging out with from "church at the pub" or a group from the Waupaca Hotel come in and perhaps have an odor or look to them...this is going to be one pastor that will be jumping for joy. THAT IS WHAT MINISTRY IS ALL ABOUT.