Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Two of the Most Often Asked Questions From Pastors & Missionaries [Part One]

In all my travels and speaking about organic church movements there are certain questions that are asked all the time. Two questions in particular are predictable when addressing a room full of pastors or missionaries. In this blog post and the next I want to briefly address them both.

Question One: The most frequently asked question of organic church movements by pastor-types is: "How am I going to make a living and support my family?" It doesn't take long for pastors hearing me talk about organic church movements to start doing the math silently in their head. They quickly realize that their way of making a living may soon come to an end. Truthfully, this is not much different than most the people sitting in the pews every Sunday.

My answer is always the same: "Your Father in heaven loves your family more than you do and will care for them. He cares for the sparrows, how much more for you." I usually say, "It doesn't matter what logo is on the upper left hand corner of your pay check, your support is coming from your heavenly Father and He is not going out of business anytime soon."

I let them know that this is something I have to believe every day myself. If you thought that writing books makes someone wealthy and secure you do not know much about the Christian leadership book market. Just like most of you there are many times when there is still more month at the end of my paycheck. God always provides. I often will say in a sly manner, "You know, I've been walking with Jesus for 33 years now–you would think that by now I wouldn't have to live by faith anymore!" Usually people laugh with a sigh of realization that we are to always live by faith. In fact, that is true security, isn't it? When all is said and done, knowing that I lived every day in faith is what will really matter.

I can tell you story after story of how pastor types have made a living following Christ in rather creative ways–post church employment. Usually their "real job" ends up being more fruitful for the kingdom than when they used to get paid by a church.

One friend used to be (and still is) a pastor and a missionary but has incredible stories of how he has found ways to make a living. When I first met John he was a church planter. John has been a carpenter (like Jesus) and a cage fighter (not so much like Jesus). This pacifist once opened up a Jiu Jitsu Studio. He's also an artist. He went overseas as a missionary. Lately he has been leading a construction team that is revitalizing a historic home in Long Beach–but John is always looking for the next thing. Now he wants to blend his wood working skills and his artistic talent in a way that can bless many others. He wants to make pipes (yes, tobacco smoking pipes). John is one of a kind. In fact, he is planning on doing an apprenticeship with a master craftsman to better his skills at this trade (and you can help him do so if you like). Here is his website that explains what he wants to do and offers a variety of ways to help him (and also get something nice in return).

After knowing John for 20 years I can say that his family has always had food on the table and a roof over their heads. They are blessed and wealthy where it counts. This venture is creative, unique, artistic and a blessing to others. I also know that John will bring Jesus into his work and share Him with others. This is very John Jensen-ish. That is how our God is–each of us is a unique masterpiece. Is it secure? Does it include a retirement plan? Well, only in Christ. But then that's true with every job when you think of it. Does this provide a model for you to follow...unlikely. But then the world would be boring if we were all pacifistic cage fighting, Christian anarchist, artistic pipe smoking followers of Jesus. What an adventure it is to discover the unique plan God has for your life as well.


Scott Gringo Blair said...

I thought my computer was acting up. I follow both blogs and Johns picture kept showing up on I thought they were running together.

So thrilled to see you do an article on Rev John and support him.

He has always been very helpful to me in the online world at least ;-)

john jensen said...

Thanks Neil, it has been a long time together hasn't it :)



Micheal Maynard said...

Thanks for affirming the multi vocational model of ministry. It is the future.

Neil Cole said...

John I am glad to do it. You have always been an inspiration to me bro.I don't smoke, but one of these days I want one of your pipes.

Anonymous said...

As I quit my position at a wealthy church this month, this is well received. My wife and I are really excited/scared about stepping out in faith.

We have no plan, no building, no idea what we are doing, but we want to have more faith.

I appreciated your message in Houston, then Verge, then Exponential, and now.

Hakuna Matata said...

That was very informative thoughts and I love it.

Thanks for sharing this.

link for familycare (FCF)

Anonymous said...

Thank you Neil, I needed this encouragement today. I'm recently back in the States from an overseas (missionary) church planting position. I've accepted a stateside (supported) position with an excitement and apprehension about how the Lord will supply our needs. I need not worry! Thank you! ~Phil