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The Professional Church Person

Do you find yourself thinking about someone else’s ministry more than you think about your own?
Do you throw tweets out to “famous Christians” and stare at your time line hoping for a response?
Are you strategic about the friendships you try to build in order to use them for future leveraging of your “Christian career”?
Are you only trying to take ideas from other ministries instead of giving your ideas to smaller ones?
Do you get more excited about having a conversation with a “famous Christian” than you do about having a conversation with Jesus?
Do you spend more time reading leadership books than you spend actually leading your family?
Is your ministry more “relevant” than it is “real”?
Does everybody you socialize with know what you are talking about if you say North Point, New Spring, Saddleback, or Mars Hill?

If you answered yes to more than one of these questions you are on your way to becoming a “Professional Church Person”.

Thoughts?
Los

  • Hmmmm. I’ve never been professional at anything, but from the looks of it, I’m on my way.

    Julie

    P.S. I’ll be watching and refreshing every minute for your response.

  • LOL! This list has a definite SCL vibe to it. You should throw in some points ans have a rating system.

    Sorry. Couldn’t help it. Saw the tweets between you and @prodigaljohn from last night. Great stuff.

    • I thought about doing that. But I’m no where near as smart as acuff

  • Jon

    I think there are quite a few pastors out there that are “professional church people”. Some pastors at my church dont do anything but the things listed on this list. Hopefully they read it and can rectify the situation.

    Or at least it feels this way. Maybe I am wrong.

    Thanks Los!

  • Great post. Sadly justification will allow most professionals to validate why this is ok for them. 🙁

  • Ryan

    Who isn’t on this list?

  • I think everyone (including me) is guilty of answering yes to many of these questions at one point or another.

  • We see a lot of those kinds of folks in ministry. I personally would rather talk to a non believer or a back slidden one about the things of God rather than most Christians. The problem I have within our circles is we’re always networking and it makes me question whether we’re truly interested in what God is interested in, people.
    Our commission is to love God, and love people.
    If you love God, loving people comes naturally (to an extent)because He also loves people. But if God is your big ticket to your ‘career’ in Christianity then its just a game.
    I’ll admit, its an everyday battle to shun that lifestyle.
    I think the other question is who is building your life, career, ministry? God or you?

    • It’s not all bad. We are all human. It’s just good to be reminded once in a while

  • Shall I print up business cards? I think sometimes ‘lay’ people may forget they are leaders as well. They have ministry as well and relationship is between two and one of them should really be Christ.

  • Los! This feels like a personal attack!!

    I can’t help it that I cant stop thinking… what is los doing right now? man… now I can’t talk to you cause your famous!??? I messaged you on Facebook and waited for your reply…!!!I mean sure I friended you on facebook so I could get to andy park.. but he is REALLY cool! and as far as ideas…I dont take your ideas… you give them! I can’t help it if they just pop out at strategy meetings! I have to admit I would get pretty excited if you would reply back! regarding leadership books… I just checked in with the family and they are doing fine… why? what are you reading right now? I think my ministry is pretty relevant…at least to the five people that clicked on my banner ad that says “click if Jesus is your homeboy!” I actually try to string North Point, New Spring, Saddleback, or Mars Hill together in at least one sentence in a conversation with other leaders… just because it is so important that everyone know that those places are great!

    besides whats the matter with being a professional Christian? I have to connect with people to get the word out about how awesome the things I do are.. and it gives all of those things more value if I know famous people!

    • Why do
      i think this is laced with something sinister?
      😉

      • ok mebby there is a little sarcasm… only in fun though… you know I love you dude! you are like my brother from another mother… except you are a little crazier than me… I am still a bit timid in the gay worship leader articles section 🙂

  • I’m not a professional Christian – no-one pays me for it! Some good challenging questions though.

    So go on, los, which are your biggest challenges from the list?

    (Direct question, he has to answer, and I’ll keep checking every minute.) 😉

    • Andrew. For me its the consuming of leadership and creative resources while I let me creativity and leadership not impact my family.

      • You got me on the consumption of others’ resources, but I’m trying to work on that after last weekend’s post!

  • Aaron J

    Gut-check time.

  • Holly

    “Is your ministry more “relevant” than it is “real”?”

    If we Christians TRULY believe that we have something DIFFERENT which the secular world / lost need, then why are we striving so flippin hard to be “RELEVANT”?! Too many times Christians confuse relevancy with REFLECTION. You cannot bring forth a positive CHANGE in a person’s life if you are trying to reflect their current situations. It’s time for leaders to GET REAL!!!!

    I feel like most “professional christians” are simply RELIGIOUS people, who have forgotten the RELATIONSHIP part of their relationship with Jesus. The word “religion” comes from Latin term “religare” which means “to bind up.” We must break beyond the binds of religion and foster AUTHENTIC RELATIONSHIPS with God, not simply go through the motions of professional christianity… For far too long, we have worried about the service schedule, programming for each department and forgotten to simply let God reign.

    **Professional Christian in no way means “someone who makes their living working in ministry”. “Professional Christians are those who TRY to “be known as a great Christian and forget that their lives and the fruit of their personal ministries speak volumes.

    If we are all honest with ourselves, we will admit that each and every one of us struggle with one – all of the issues on Carlos’ list. However, I feel like the point he is trying to make (at least my perception of it) is that if this type of list, these types of things are what our entire “relationship with God” and / or ministry is based on, then we should get our hearts in check and return to our true relationship with HIM.

    Thanks, Carlos, for being REAL.

    • Holly

      I say “we”, because as I think about my own answers to the above list, I am guilty as charged on every one of these issues at one point or another.

  • Hadassah

    great thinking. gonna translate it into portuguese and share!

  • I think it is natural to say yes to some of these things mainly because that is what we see everyone else doing. Doesn’t mean that we are free to say yes or blaming it on others, but social media is about connections as well as putting your name out there.

    The one thing that I have observed is that when I try to act like the professional it usually is pretty obvious I am just a 23 year old kid trying to figure things out.
    Usually I am brought back to reality of the fact that I am the farthest thing from being professional.

    It does feel like you have to play the game some times though, be that Professional Christian to get more followers more status etc…and if it comes to that for me I repent.

    • well there is peer approval and other things that are involved too! One of the things that is really tough for me is that I like to know that I am making a difference… so I like to hear that people are listening and applying the things I challenge them in… The other day I actually did get excited because Andy Park actually accepted my friend request on Facebook…primarily because I love his music… and suddenly I feel like I am closer to shaking his hand and telling him how much his songs mean to me… The reality is that if you actually spend any time around many of the famous people they have just as many faults as anyone… Thats what I love about Ragamuffin Soul… Los makes a valiant effort to be accountable and honest here…

      I did make a big deal for a while about followers and retweets, and rss subscribers… but the reality finally sunk in… that alot of normal people dont read blogs and don’t care what I have to say 🙂 We have to be careful that our blog circles and comment circles do not become echo chambers where we just make sure to make the rounds and pat each other on the back…

      anyways! I figured I should leave something more on a serious note… since I acted like I was on SCL for my last commment.

      • No that is good man.
        I can understand what you are saying. And yes it is very easy to make the rounds of the blogosphere and really feel good about yourself.

        I do think you are right in and of the fact that everyone is flawed and to put anyone up on a pedal-stool of perfection is wrong. I myself have really pulled away from this because I realize precisely that worship is easier then friendship. I can worship people and hang on every word they say much easier then I can just being satisfied with a friendship.

        • I normally just call my brother in San Diego who owns a sign shop.
          I tell him I’m leading worship at Catalyst and I am meeting with Perry Noble and he says…
          “Huh?”

          • LOL that is so awesome! 🙂 I call my brother and will be going on … “hey did you read my blog the other day?” and he says… dude I don’t read blogs! I haven’t read your blog in months! Its great for refocusing your identity!

          • Ya I talk to my offline friends and they barely even know what wordpress is.
            It can be hard though when I am trying to explain what I do all day to them. They just look at me and think I have lost it.

      • I hear you, Jason. I got seriously down about the lack of readers on my blog and was ready to stop. I wanted to be significant and have loads of followers. Then I read the following: “NOTHING you will say or do will please EVERYONE. Keep your audience small… like, say… One.”

        So that’s what I did – I started writing for the only audience I should really be seeking approval and validation from. It was truly liberating.

  • Ouch! – i scored quite high – FAIL!

    Keep on forgetting to bring everything back to Him and to stop taking over the controls – it’s a terrible habit i’m commited to breaking.

  • well… it looks like I’m the most unprofessional church person…

    like I said, I was uncool before being uncool was cool….

    as for relevant… whatever. I am me, I don’t care if you twit, poke, IM or email me.

    And first time I heard “mars hill” I thought about a planet…. *shrug*

  • Rob

    I think we are all guilty of atleast one of these, if not close to all of them. My friend and I were just talking yesterday about “famous Christians” and how we put them on a pedistool. We sometimes get more excited about who a pastor or musician is, rather than Who they are teaching and singing about.
    Good post, really makes me think….

  • Great thought! I love it!

  • Yup! You got me, Carlos! Guilty as charged…at least on some the the questions.

    I score pretty high on this. There are a coupla dudes who’s ministry I admire so much, ( I will resist mentioning them here :-)) and get so many mentions on my blog, I worry in case they think I’m a stalker! 🙂

  • JTK

    Does anyone have some ice? I just got smacked by reality…Los, thanks for waking us up.

  • shayne

    See below: Jesus is speaking to the pharisees, right after he healed the guy on the Sabbath.

    41-44″I’m not interested in crowd approval. And do you know why? Because I know you and your crowds. I know that love, especially God’s love, is not on your working agenda. I came with the authority of my Father, and you either dismiss me or avoid me. If another came, acting self-important, you would welcome him with open arms. How do you expect to get anywhere with God when you spend all your time jockeying for position with each other, ranking your rivals and ignoring God?” (John 5:41-44 MSG)

  • Wish I could say this wasn’t me sometimes. Ok lots of times. Convicted. There you go being a pastor again.

  • I gotta say Los. I was super excited to get to talk to you for 10 minutes back at STORY 09. I preface what I’m about to say by saying this, I really enjoyed our conversation about Soul City and thank you again for your encouragement. But upon reflecting on how I felt about meeting you… I felt sick. I built you up to rock star status and that’s not what you’re going for at all. You’re just a dude. A dude who get speeding tickets just like the rest of us. So I’m trying so hard to not be a professional church person while at the same time making a living by working in the church. Thanks for this post dude. It’s the cat’s pajamas of sobering posts for me.

  • fermin

    Great questions…my guide is The Word: “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” (Ephesians 4:29). I know it is difficult to live by God’s standard, but it is very important. God bless.

  • It’s so sad that we’ve created a culture that fosters this. I call it The Greenroom Effect and I wrote about it at http://www.leebezotte.com/the-greenroom-effect/

    Thanks for the challenge to keep things in perspective!

    • It doesn’t help thought that several of these “Christian Celebrities” demand the same of more attention than some of our countries Pop Stars.

  • Charlton

    So I totally did this at Unleash this year at NewSpring… I was talking to some of the guys in the band backstage afterwards and RoseAngela walked up to us and I totally geeked out… but that’s not cuz I see her as a celebrity… its cuz she’s stinking beautiful and this 26 year old man turned into a 12 year old boy going through puberty…

  • Great post man, I laughed and got convicted all at the same time. I need to worry less about my “career” and more about my ministry. The good news is I just crossed off “Meet Carlos Whittaker, Rick Warren, and Mark Driscoll at a conference at the same time” of my To Do list. My day just got more productive.

  • Carlos,

    What facinates me about this post is in part the fact that being LCMS I really don’t know Adam from Eve when it comes to who is and wo isn’t famous in the body of Christ. Lutherans tend to cloister among themselves. I don’t even know the churches you listed.
    I will admit that not knowing has been both a blessing and a curse in the sense that I do run into people and start up conversations without knowing that maybe I shouldn’t have? If that makes sense. I don’t believe in rock stars in the body of Christ.

    I guess “famous” is relative?

    I would have to say that while I may not be on my way to being a real church professional, I would say that the ministry I do have is more real than relavent. I am a certified precepts teacher — I teach women how to discern the Word of God for themselves. I love it.

    I did branh out a year or so ago and joined a comedy association at the strong suggestion of a comic friend and it was like my whole world just busted open. I had no iddea those people existed prior to that.

    It’s been an interesting ride.

    Great post.

    Blessings

  • I was emailing with a worship leader from a large church because I needed some advice on songwriting, publishing, etc. and I asked him how I could get my worship songs heard by the “right people.” He told me that he really didn’t know about all that, but maybe the “right people” were the ones in my church who actually do hear my songs. Butt officially kicked.

    I want to say that my motive for wanting songs to “get out” is purely Kingdom based. I write what God gives to me, and if people are affected by it, my automatic response is, “Wow. I want lots of other people to encounter God through that song.” I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, but when it comes to nothing but a desire to be a “professional Christian,” it’s gut check time.

    Thanks Los. I’m glad someone’s looking out.

  • Hmmm…yeah, I suppose it’s a bit of an ego boost when I get a comment on my blog or a tweet from a “famous Christian”, but I don’t seek them out, and I don’t think their words are any more valuable than my friends and family that are attempting to live out the gospel in their ordinary, not-in-the-spotlight lives. With the possible exception of Tim Keller, because that guy’s a freaking rock star.

  • I pastor a church = not the lead pastor but one of the leading pastors = we have served over 35,000 homeless and people in need this year in our community and have had over 30,000 people work with us to do that we have multiple million dollar buildings we are the word made flesh = the hands and heart of Christ = and thousands of people know me from personal relationships daily my stage is face to face hands on = is this the walk Christ is looking for ? And every one is famous to me especially those in need I have never met you or Perry but if you are just using your facility for your own means and using Christ name to make you famous than I would suggest you go back to the beginning and start over And is it ok to treat every one as famous ? starting at the bottom ? I love you . I have never herd your music nor seen you other than checking out your post but you are famous to me not as famous as the homeless guy you sang with but still famous not as famous as those in my direct life but famous you are famous because god loves you and asks me to also can i love every one as famous and hope they put love greatly hire than lights and stuff that will give you no reward in heaven ? but may be used as tools to point to Christ if used properly and yes i am guilty of some of these as you have said but i seek to walk in a repentant heart towards Christ .

  • Yes secretly I do wish i could afford lights I have about 5 out right now in my church and they are hundreds of dollars each but it is cheaper if I wait till 2 more go out so I can replace them all at once and people no me from face to face working together to bless the people my stage is secretly in the woods at the homeless camps who need a hand were they are at or on the streets .

  • Dude. Working in the environment i’m currently in, I know WAY too many people like this. They are exhausting, and completely isolated from the rest of the world. I don’t know how to call them out without hurting their feelings or burting their bubbles.

  • clarkwith4

    I grew up in church. I grew up in small churches. Less than 75 people small. So while I may have answered yes to more than one of those questions I feel it’s because I wish I was there. There in the ministry that is growing, blossoming, leading and changing! It’s a good thing. Loyalty to the ministry we are in has become suffocating but still don’t feel God’s allowing us to up and leave when we are depended upon. I refuse the label you have suggested because if it wasn’t for those ministries that have made themselves available to me I would have already died to tradition, mediocrity, lack of creativity and motivation, etc.

  • joanpball

    This appears to be a very evangelical phenomenon. I travel in many Christian circles, many of which do not know the names or churches or ministries of the folks I encounter in the US evangelical camp. Interestingly, those other folks also view Jesus, the Holy Spirit, spiritual disciplines, social justice and service to others very differently. Their perspectives and practices add a richness to my understanding of my spiritual journey. I learn from the consumer Christians (those who are inspired by bestseller songs/books/conferences/pastors), but I find the messages become redundant over time as they are more centered on what people should and shouldn’t do (often on their own power under the watchful eye of small groups and accountability partners) rather than testimonies to an unfolding adventure of genuine and sustained transformation by grace through relinquishing of control. In fact, it’s funny how entrenched the messages are in these circles, as I frequently have to correct editors and people who quote me because I often say things that do not fit the typical evangelical mold and editors tell me they assumed I meant what they were used to hearing and change a sentence or paragraph to fit their meaning. I guess that’s why I’m still floating around…and why I’ll never be famous. Whew…

  • Jeff Brace

    Ouch! I was having a good day!
    Great post.