Monday, July 11, 2011

My Thing, Your Thing, & Our Thing

My Thing

Every pastor or church leader has something that he/she likes more than anything else.  It is what we might call “My Thing.”  This is my personal interest or passion.  This is what I LIKE.  This is what I ENJOY.  For some leaders “my thing” might be fishing, or it might be hunting, or camping, or motorcycle riding, or football.  Or it might be some type of cause such as collecting clothes for the homeless.

Our Thing

Then there is “Our Thing” which is defined as WHAT WE DO TOGETHER as a church.  It’s our overall mission.  For us, “our thing” is PACE COMMUNITY CHURCH. Specifically, it’s teaching, leading, worshipping, loving, serving, and helping people as best we can by the grace of God.  That is “our thing.”  That’s what we do TOGETHER.

So as a leader I need to be very careful that I am not recruiting the people in our church to some agenda that is “my thing.”  Instead I should always be recruiting people to “our thing.” 

I’ve seen it a thousand times before.  The pastor loves to hunt so all of a sudden “hunting” becomes a big ministry in the church.  Or maybe the pastor is a Republican and all of a sudden a Republican agenda gets a foothold in the church.  Or the pastor takes up karate and the next thing you know he needs floor space in the church building for a karate ministry.  As good as those things are, they are NOT “our thing.”  The pastor should simply say, “That’s my thing and I’ll do it on my own time and I will spend my own money on it because it is my interest, my hobby, and my agenda. Just because the leader likes it, doesn’t mean that everyone else should be recruited to it, and neither should church money or resources be used on it.

Your Thing

Then there is “Your Thing.”  This is what YOU LIKE.  As a Christian there are some things that you are highly motivated about, excited about, and passionate about.  It might be home schooling, end times prophecy, the gifts of the Spirit, a certain doctrine, helping orphans in Kyrgyzstan, stacking brick in El Salvador, community activism, or some other thing.  You like doing it because it’s “your thing.”

The problem is when some people in the church want to take “their thing” and make it “my thing” or “our thing.”  They want to make sure that everyone sees it they way the see it, likes it as much as they do, and will support it as much as they support it.  Why?  Because it’s “their thing.”  It’s what YOU like, although the rest of us are not as passionate about it.

You should never pressure a church leader to make “your thing” to be “his thing” or the “church’s thing.”  This happens all the time.  Hey Pastor Ron, I’ve got this great initiative that I would like for PCC to support.  I want to make an announcement in the Sunday service.  I want to let everyone know how important this issue is.  I want to recruit volunteers.  I need to raise some money.  I need PCC to write a check to X-Y-Z organization.  It’s such a great cause.”  Or “Hey Pastor Ron, I’m starting this new business and I would really love to get the word out.  I’m really excited about what I’m doing.”  Or, “Hey, we’re having this charity fund-raiser and I’d like to get PCC involved” and the list goes on, and on, and on, and on, and on!  There is never an end to it all.

As a leader it feels like somebody is always hawking something, selling something, trying to get me to join something, or sell something for them.  So I have learned how to handle it by simply saying this: 

That’s ‘your thing.’  It’s not ‘my thing.’  And I’m not going to give you permission to make it ‘our thing.’  You can’t recruit volunteers away from PCC.  You can’t dominate our mission.  You can’t ask for money.  If you want to, put your own time into it.  Put your own money there.  Bring your friends along and ask them to join.   BUT… don’t try to make ‘your thing’ to be ‘our thing’ because I can’t allow it to happen.”

I can give you dozens of examples in which I have been approached in this manner.  For instance, I was asked by the Supervisor of Elections if they could use PCCs building as Polling Station for political elections and be allowed to set up voting booths in the atrium.  Once I was asked by a group of members in our church if we could have a Girl Scout Promotion ceremony as a Sunday morning service!   I have been asked by members to let Boy Scouts have award ceremonies and little league baseball teams to have trophy ceremonines in PCCs building.  One man in our church, an insurance salesman, wanted me to promote his business in the bulletin and even had the audacity to ask me for a mailing list!  One lady wanted to start a “dancing ministry” in our church.  Another asked to use our building to host conferences for outside organizations.  Southern Gospel enthusiasts ask me to host concerts in PCCs building.  One lady tried to get me to join her efforts to drive the School Superintendent out of office.  The list goes on and one.  In the last six months, I have been approached at least once a month by such requests from members in our church.  Even as recently as last Sunday, yes, yesterday, I was approached again.  It never stops. 

Unless I am brutally frank and emphatically say “NO” to these requests, what people hear me say is “yes.”  Unless I use a response that sometimes feels like rudeness, (and yes, I believe there is a redeemed version of rudeness), what people hear is, “the pastor approves and he has just said that ‘my thing is going to become ‘the church’s thing.’”  The next thing you know, people all across the church are demanding floor space in the building, air time in the Sunday morning announcements, write ups in the bulletin, a seat at the leadership table, a line in the budget, and a page on the web site.

But the truth is this:  if they are not excited about our thing then they are simply using us to do their thing.  

We can't do everything.  We are NOT going to do my thing.  We are NOT going to do your thing.  Together we are going to do “our thing” – and our thing is Pace Community Church.  Our church has had its fair share of “single issue” voters and the only way I have been able to keep us on track is by sticking to "our thing."

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