Coaching Intrinsic Motivation by Katie Driver

One of the ways our family lives missionally, is by having students from other countries live with us while they attend college.  They learn U.S. culture in our home which is a safe place where they can ask questions, make mistakes, practice their English, and see and experience how Christians live and relate to each other and the world around them.  This has worked out great for all of us – until this semester.  The two girls who came to live with us lasted just 6 weeks, and then they left because according them, “the environment was not good”.  They went back to their previous environment.

MotivationMany jump into the adventure of simple, organic and missional church and then end up leaving because the experience was not what they expected.  They return to old environments that feel safe, require less, are more familiar, and fit their expectations. Not everyone likes to live in a simple, organic, and missional way once they find out what the environment requires of them.  It requires personal responsibility for their own intimate relationship with God, and then with others both Christian and not.  It requires initiative.  It forces a deeper level of accountability, and a participatory expectation that many are surprised by, and don’t have the motivation to pursue.

People are their own best motivators.

Psychologists have determined there are two different ways people are motivated; intrinsic and extrinsic.

Intrinsic motivation occurs when someone is driven by an interest or enjoyment of something that exists from within the person.  For example, for someone who loves to read, reading many books in a given year is pleasurable, fulfilling and is not thought of as a chore, but rather enjoyable.

Extrinsic motivation occurs when someone or something from the outside of the person initiates and sustains the motivation.  Some examples of this are grades, fulfilling the wishes of others, abiding by the law, working for tips as a waiter, etc.

As someone who has spent hours and hours coaching people in the simple, organic and missional journey, I can tell you that it is a waste of time, if they don’t have intrinsic motivation.

Many people initially think they want this paradigm. Then, they begin to understand that the environment is different.  Much like our past students who left our home because they determined that “the environment was not good.” Many find the realities of living simple, organic and missional are different than what they expected.  They lost, or never really had, the intrinsic motivation for this paradigm.

A benefit of good coaching is that it asks the right questions.  It begins to unlock within you, just what is “the environment” your looking for, because that will be the only thing that will motivate you to find and live it.  Good coaching taps into your intrinsic motivation and encourages what God is doing within you.


© 2012 Katie Driver
Posted by permission

Originally posted on Katie Driver’s blog “The BackSeat Driver”: here

A movement that empowers the common Christian…

The Forgotten WaysNeil Cole says of the early period of Church Multiplication Associates, “‘We want to lower the bar of how church is done and raise the bar of what it means to be a disciple.‘  Their rationale was that if the experience of church was simple enough that just about anyone can do it, and is made up of people who have taken up their cross and follow Jesus at any cost, the result will be  to do the uncommon works of God.  ‘Churches will become healthy, fertile and reproductive.’  If this is right, then many of our current practices seem to be the wrong way around…we seem to make church complex and discipleship too easy.”

(p. 104 of The Forgotten Ways by Alan Hirsch)



What is church? by Neil Cole

Coffee MakerIn the Bible the church is not defined but instead is described with pictures: a flock, a field, a family, a body, a bride, a branch, a building made of living stones. Never is it described by the pictures we typically have today: a building, a business, a school or a hospital. We have replaced an organic and life producing view with an institutional one that does not produce life but at best simply tries to preserve it and contain it.

The predominate way of seeing the church today contains, conforms and controls the people. The biblical pictures of the NT are all about releasing and reproducing the life of the church, not managing and controlling financial interests.

Inorganic things can produce, but not reproduce. As Christian Schwartz points out so eloquently, “A coffee maker can make coffee (praise God), but it cannot make more coffee makers.” Jesus intends for his bride and body to be fertile and for his branches to bear fruit. Jesus didn’t use images of an institution, nor should we.

With much study, research, experience and time spent seeking wisdom from smarter men than us, we have come to understand church by this simple yet profound description: “The church is the presence of Jesus among His people, called out as a spiritual family, to pursue His mission on this planet.”

Read the rest here

Teaching from our Mentor George Patterson

George Patterson Teaching

Thanks for capturing this session Southeastern Baptist Seminary!

George Patterson planted churches in Central America for over twenty years. In this session he talks about his philosophy of equipping. This was filmed in the Center for Great Commission Studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

A Leader Who Finishes Well

The Making of A LeaderIn his outstanding work “The Making of A Leader,” J. Robert Clinton studied the lives of hundreds of leaders and asked the question- “What makes a leaders finish his/her life well?” We use the answers to this question in our Organic Greenhouse Story 2 Training to push our leaders to have a long-view of finishing well. These were what Clinton found to be the top 5 commonalities:

A Leader who Finishes Well:

1) has a perspective that focuses his/her energies on ministry strengths.

2) maintains a learning posture throughout all his/her life.

3) enjoys repeated times of personal/spiritual renewal.

4) mentors others while continuing to be mentored.

5) disciplines her or his own spiritual formation.

Review of Viral Jesus by Felicity Dale

I’ve been looking forward to the release of Viral Jesus: Recovering the contagious power of the Gospel by Ross Rohde for some time. A few months ago I was given the privilege of reading the manuscript and writing an endorsement, and immediately I was struck with the relevance of Ross’s message to not just the simple/organic church movement of which both he and we are a part, but far beyond that, to any Christian who desires to make an impact for the Kingdom of God.

We have known Ross for several years, and every time we meet him he has a new story of how he has met with a “person of peace” (see Luke 10), led him to become a disciple of Jesus and started a community of Jesus followers. The book is full of stories of supernatural encounters, God working miracles in people’s lives.

The early church spread like wildfire, spreading throughout the then known world in a comparatively short time. Since then, it has become something different–a lethargic parody of the vibrant life it was supposed to be.

Could we see a viral Jesus movement again here in the West? Christianity is meant to be an adventure, we as his ambassadors on mission with God. Do you want to see your church revitalized? In this outstanding book, Ross examines the principles of what it would take to recapture the excitement and viral nature of evangelism and making disciples.

Don’t start reading this book late at night–you’ll not be able to put it down. I highly recommend it.

Originally posted on Felicity Dale’s Blog HERE

Keith Giles’ Book Review of Letters to the House Church Movement by Rad Zdero

I am drowning in books. Literally, I have over 25 books stacked next to my bed. Three new books came in the mail this week. I am overwhelmed with books. Which is why when Rad Zdero’s book, “Letters to the House Church Movement” first dropped into my mailbox I wasn’t eager to crack it open on the spot and devour it in one sitting. You see, I’m drowning in books.However, once I did start reading Rad’s book I quickly placed all those other books into stand-by mode. Why? Because this book is so practical, and so fascinating, that I had to keep reading to learn more about what God is doing through house churches in his neck of the woods, which incidentally is Toronto, Canada.The format of the book, as you might have guessed from the title, is a series of letters (always from Zdero’s side of the conversation) to different people and addressing different situations in various house churches within Zdero’s circle of influence. Much like the epistles of Paul or John or Peter in the New Testament, we get to hear how Zdero responds to conflict in the house church, how he deals with church discipline, what he believes about women in the house church, and much, much more.

Zdero has been involved in the house church movement since 1985. That is roughly when I officially entered the ministry and was licensed and ordained as a Southern Baptist minister of the Gospel. But I’ve only been involved in the house church movement for about five years now. So, Zdero’s level of experience is much broader than mine, and so I can understand why some of the ways he deals with things is different from the way I might deal with the same issue. Plus, he’s Canadian. We can’t forget that.

But on a more serious note, one of the things I have always loved about the house church movement from the very beginning was the level of freedom and the variety of expression exhibited across the board. I remember reading Robert and Julia Banks’ “The Church Comes Home” and marveling at how no two house church groups seemed to approach anything the same way. Whether it was communion or baptism or bible teaching or children’s involvement, or whatever, the variety was overwhelming and refreshing to me. And this is what I try to keep in mind as I read Zdero’s book. In some chapters, as when he comments about women in the church for example, I find that I agree with him exactly. When he encourages one couple to break off fellowship with another couple because they disagree on doctrine, I find myself disagreeing sincerely. When he writes to house church members and draws the line in the sand and asks them to commit to certain things or disband their church, I find myself unsure of how I feel about that. But, in all of these things, I have grace and respect for Zdero. One, because he’s my brother in Christ, and two, because as I’ve said many times before, we should not base our fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ on an agreement of doctrine as much as we base it on our common love for Christ and our commitment to love and serve Him.

Frankly, I found myself inserting my own style of leadership into Zdero’s letters at every turn. I found that I could hardly focus on what he was saying to his audience without pausing to ask myself what I might say in the same situation, or how I might respond differently if I were writing a letter to these same people.

I think, on a basic level, Zdero and I are two different kinds of leaders. Whereas he might be more of an Apostolic leader whose calling is to plant many churches and to (as he says in his book), “help spawn the house church movement”, I am more like a guy who heard God call him to plant a specific church where 100 percent of the offering could go to help the poor in our community. There’s nothing wrong with either calling, of course. But understanding our different roles in the Church is helpful (at least to me) in understanding why Zdero and I are different leaders.

Before you get the idea that I disagree with Zdero on some critical level, let me affirm that most of what he counsels people to do in this book is agreeable to me. I do think that it’s important for Churches to develop real community, to be involved in mission outside the four walls, and to practice loving church discipline whenever necessary. We might disagree on “how” to do those things, but we do agree on doing them as best as we can.

Again, Zdero and I agree on many, many more things than we disagree on. I want to make that abundantly clear. This book would make a wonderful contribution to anyone who was curious about how to handle difficulty in a house church setting, how to respond to critics of the house church, and even how to lovingly correct people who are overzealous for all things “house church”.

To be fair, I am probably the most permissive and passive leader I have ever met. Almost no one I know takes such a hands-off approach to leadership as I do. And I don’t say that to brag. Maybe I’m too footloose when it comes to these issues? I’m not saying I’ve got it all figured out. But, if you read Zdero’s book you should know that not everything he does is typical of all house church practitioners. The reality is more on the side of variety, as I mentioned earlier.

Much like, “The Church Comes Home” by Robert and Julia Banks, Zdero’s book does provide a nice snapshot of house church life and addresses many typical challenges faced by those who are involved in this movement. What might be missing from Zdero’s book is that variety of experience or perspective found in their book. Due, of course, to the fact that Zdero’s book is from his viewpoint only (but then again, my books and articles reflect my bias as well). So, there’s not much you can do about this fact except to listen to what he has to say and weigh it against your own understanding of the Scriptures and decide for yourself what you think.

Either way, Zdero’s book is an enlightening and challenging collection of thoughts from someone who has invested a large portion of his life to the nurturing of others as they follow Christ into deeper community. I highly recommend this book.



© 2012 Keith Giles

Posted with permission
Originally posted on his blog HERE

He tweets @KeithGiles

subversive1 blog Check out Keith’s insightful blog:

Books by Keith Giles:

This Is My Body Subversive Interviews The Gospel: For Here or To Go?
This Is My
Body by
Keith Giles
by Keith Giles
The Gospel:
For Here or
To Go by
Keith Giles








Our Role & God’s Role in Disciple Making by Gavin Duerson

Can you cause a person to grow spiritually?  When it comes to disciple making, what is our responsibility?  At a Greenhouse Training event hosted by CMA Resources, we examined the following text from Mark 4:

26 He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.28 All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. 29 As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”




From the text, we see that a farmer can cultivate the ground and plant seeds, and even put the sickle to the plant once mature, but can do nothing to cause a seed to grow!  In simple/organic church planting, the church planter (or disciplemaker) cultivates and plants, but realized that Kingdom growth is God’s work.

When we plant good seed in good soil, growth and multiplication naturally happen as they receive rain and sunlight.  This is true of plants and it’s true of the Kingdom as well.  The only thing that can stop this natural process is failure to sow good seed generously on good soil or farming in such as way to impede the natural process that God has in place.

At the Greenhouse training, the leaders made the following comparison between an organic/simple church approach and a traditional church approach to sowing, growing, and harvesting.

  Cultivating Sowing Growing Tending Harvesting
Institutional Approach Passive Passive Active Active Passive
Organic Approach Active Active Passive Passive Active


Do you agree that the traditional church focuses most of its energies on growing and tending the garden (flock) while being passive with regards to sowing and harvesting?  What would it look like for you to cultivate and sow good seed more generously? What does it mean for us to be actively involved in the harvesting—putting a sickle to the “ripe plant?”

Enjoy this great video that was at the greenhouse training event to illustrate the teaching on the Kingdom.

6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. – 1 Corinthians 3:6

To learn more about attending a Greenhouse Training event visit


Originally posted on Kentucky Simple Church Alliancehere

What Demons are saying about the Church

C.S. Lewis

“We want the church to be small not only that fewer men may know the Enemy [God] but also that those who do may acquire the uneasy intensity and the defensive self-righteousness of a secret society or clique.”

– Uncle Screwtape to Wormwood in Letter 7 (via C. S. Lewis in The Screwtape Letters)

Not Jesus’ Way

“Christianity isn’t currently spreading rapidly anywhere in the West. That, in and of itself, is an indictment that we are not doing things Jesus’ way.”

-Ross Rhode in Viral Jesus

Are You A Christ Follower? by Phil Helfer

It has become commonplace to hear believers refer to themselves as Christ-followers. What does following Christ actually entail? For many, following Christ means following those they see as His designated leaders. It’s as though Christ has delegated His authority to others and all one must do to follow Him is follow the direction these other leaders provide. Since Jesus made it clear that His kingdom doesn’t operate that way, why do we let people go on thinking this is right?  To be a Christ-follower, one must follow Christ. Seems simple enough doesn’t it?  But simple it is not.

Scriptures & Jesus Many understand following Jesus to be synonymous with knowing His Word. In many churches the one who knows the most about theology is considered to be the best disciple. The knowledge of the scriptures is a necessary ingredient in the discipleship process but to equate knowledge with discipleship is a huge mistake. When we do this, we forget that Jesus did not command us to teach them all He has commanded us but to teach them to obey all that He has commanded us. Most dedicated Christians are educated way beyond their obedience. Any form of discipleship that doesn’t focus on helping others to live out their faith in real terms is not discipleship at all. Even those who seem to understand this truth, sometimes fall into the trap of acquiring the requisite obedience by using outside pressure. This too results in producing an anemic follower of Jesus.

The temptation is to teach people to look to the scriptures for instructions on how to live a good life. The Bible is the truth, the inerrant and infallible word of God, but when people search the scriptures for rules to live by they settle for a life that is much less than it could be.

It’s clear from the gospel accounts that Jesus lived His life for the will of His Father. You will find Him saying things like, “I only do the things I see the Father doing” and “For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak… the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.”  And again, “I have come down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of Him who sent me.”  Jesus lived His life in constant connection with His Father. “I and the Father are one.”  He was perpetually obedient, even to the point of death on a cross. Jesus came to fulfill a specific mission. How is it that we seem to think that a life of generic good works is all God wants from us?

1 Corinthians 12 further supports this thinking. “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. And each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”  Isn’t it obvious that this infinite variety of gifts, ministries, and results is indicative of an infinite variety of works God intends to accomplish through His children?  Leaders often take it upon themselves to prescribe the work to be done by each individual and most individuals are happy to let them?  Jesus is the Head of His Body and He must be allowed to direct each member as He sees fit.

The scriptures have much to say about God, life, and the principles they contain. When these principles are observed and practiced can be of infinite value. But to substitute a relationship with the Bible for a relationship with Jesus is a fatal mistake. Paul makes it clear in his letter to the churches of Galatia that to live by an outside standard or set of rules is to seek a gospel other than the grace of Christ. Jesus, in a comment to the religious leaders of His day agrees, “You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life but it’s these that testify of me.” The scriptures are meant to bring us to Jesus so that He can write His words on our hearts.

The essence of discipleship is a vital personal relationship with Christ. This personal ongoing encounter with the Creator is the cornerstone of what it means to be a Christ-follower. Commit yourself to following Jesus and helping others to do the same. If you make this the cornerstone of your life, you will find that God will use you to further the fulfillment of the great commission.


©2012 Phil Helfer

Originally posted in the February 2012 edition of The Messenger Newsletter for Los Altos Grace Brethren Church (Long Beach, CA)
On Twitter @PhilHelfer
Used with permission. All Scripture quotes from the New American Standard Bible (NASB).

Heaven Must Be More Than This! by Neil Cole

I fell into a dream. I found myself in the heavens. A voice was speaking all around me. Clouds surrounded me. Was this what heaven will be like?

Much to welcome to heavenmy surprise I found myself sitting in a seat that was not meant for a man my size. In the back of the seat in front of me was a pocket with literature explaining a plan of salvation, and an envelope in the event I wish to cough up anything.

We were all seated in rows staring at the heads in front of us as someone up front was delivering a message that was of life and death importance. But as I looked few were paying attention. Some people were nodding off while others were conversing to themselves in hushed voices. Still others were sneaking a peak at their phones even though they’d been told to turn them off. The speaker went on with a well-rehearsed message with compelling hand gestures speaking of escaping an impending doom by following the light that beckoned us to our salvation but everyone seemed inoculated to the message having heard it so many times and never actually needing it.

The leader of this group assured all of us that he had received the correct direction and would get us all where we were supposed to be. He would do all the hard work while we just go along for the ride, because that’s what he’s paid to do–he’s a professional. Everyone seemed to trust this man implicitly and put the well being of their souls in his care.

There was an intense amount of scrutiny for all those allowed to be part of this group–all had to pass through a narrow way one at a time. Some were more important than others and received preferential treatment. They had been coming to this place for a long time and more frequently than most and had special reserved seats up in the front.

There were strange rules in this place that we all had to conform to with blind obedience. The rules seemed to carry a life or death importance, but about things that really didn’t seem that dangerous. In fact, I think these rules were made up a long time ago and just passed along in a system that is easy to add new rules to, but near impossible to eliminate any old ones. Many of the rules were outdated but we all kept them just the same. All of us were just waiting for the guy in charge to finally stop circling around and just bring this thing down for a landing so we could go home.

Suddenly I heard a voice coming from above my head, all of us heard it at once. It spoke with authority and said, “Bring your seat backs and tray tables up to their full and upright position. Please fasten your seat belt low and tight across your lap. Turn off all your portable electronics and anything that has an on or off switch.”

I sure hope the real heaven is not like this.


© 2012 Neil Cole
Used with Permission. Originally Posted on his blog COLE-SLAW

Follow Neil on Twitter

Finding the Person of Peace by Ross Rohde

peace-to-this-houseRecently a blog friend, Tim, asked a very practical question:

Just out of curiosity, what methods to you employ in your context to search for persons of peace? This statement made me think of you walking down the sidewalk looking for a person of peace. So, I’m wondering what that type of searching looks like for you. Thanks!

You can see the dialog that this question started in the comment section of Cesar, Man of Peace. However, I’d like to share the core of what we discussed and develop it a bit further.


My Response to Tim’s Question

Hi Tim,

  1. Finding the person of peace is not about technique. Every person of peace story I know and every person of peace I have found has been different. Having said that, there are things we can do to find the person of peace. Here’s what I would say:
  2. When I consistently pray about finding people of peace, I find them. When I don’t focus my prayer on this, I don’t.
    1. Finding people of peace is about listening to the voice of the Master. Therefore, it is a spiritual exercise based on a loving, abiding relationship, not something we can manufacture.
    2. Luke 10:5-6 say: “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you.” The house mentioned here is the “oikos.” I don’t think it is particularly focused on the building where people live but the connected people who may just live is a particular building…or not; see An Oikos Isn’t a Building.
  3. This giving of peace, I think, is speaking the gospel of peace, or giving a blessing in the name of the Lord. It is, in essence, making Jesus the potential for conversation. I don’t think it means necessarily giving the whole gospel, just opening the conversation. If the peace rests on them, i.e. they respond and engage, stay there!!! Don’t take off, after having spilled the beans. Focus! On the other hand, if they don’t have interest, don’t cast your pearls before swine. Just move on and look for a real person of peace and a real “oikos” of peace. We focus our attention and energy on people who are moving toward Jesus, not convincing the uninterested that they should be interested.
  4. With this in mind, apostolic ministry (finding men and houses of peace then making disciples) is about finding ways to make Jesus the subject of conversation. How do we do that? Any way He tells us to, as he speaks to our heart and mind. It is not a matter of us coming up with a clever plan. But, if Jesus gives us a clever plan, then do it.

Further Thoughts

  • Jesus is our model for ministry. Yet little of what we do in ministry nowadays looks anything like what Jesus did, or what he taught his disciples to do. Our idea of ministry has been so damaged by institutionalism, and the individualistic Western worldview, that we find it hard to think about doing ministry as Jesus actually taught us.
  • When we start actually doing what Jesus taught his disciples to do, and what he expects us to do, we start bearing fruit. I know this from experience, and it is why I wrote my upcoming book Viral Jesus.
  • This kind of actual obedience to Jesus, who speaks to our hearts and minds, should be normative, but is actually very, very rare in the West.
  • We have replaced Jesus inspired ministry with what we think of as following biblical principles. Yet, supposed biblical inspired ministry actually ends up not looking at all like what Jesus did? Isn’t that ironic?
  • I find myself wondering, and praying about, what would happen if say 500 Christians in the Bay Area of California would just do what Jesus actually speaks to their hearts based on an intimate relationship with him. This would end up reflecting Jesus’ and the apostle’s ministry in the New Testament. Yet, I only know about 20 people in the entire Bay Area that are willing to live like this. Does this make you as sad as it does me?
    • I spoke about 500 people in the Bay Area of California actually following Jesus into ministry. What would that look like if all over the world people where doing this?
    • I suspect that what we would discover in the West is what our brothers in China began to discover in 1949 and onward (see The Miracle of China and Thank You Chairman Mao). This would be both exciting and dangerous. Are we really interested in something exciting and dangerous? Do we prefer something we can control, even if it ends up being unfruitful?
    • Do you agree with me that institutionalism and the Western worldview get in the way of the viral ministry I’m talking about? Why or why not?
    • Where do you think the disconnect, between what Jesus did and taught about ministry and what we actually do, comes from? I’ve laid the disconnect at the feet of institutionalism and Western cultural worldview. Do you agree or do you have different ideas?

©2011 Ross Rohde
Posted by permission

Originally posted on Ross Rohde’s blog The Jesus Virus: here

The Mission of Leaders with Ed Waken

Ed WakenEd Waken shares with the Valley Life Church network and others about leadership. What is the mission of leaders? Are they to feed the sheep? What are they to do?

Take a listen now or download the MP3

Identity by Ross Rohde

Does the collar and the pipe make him more credible?

I personally know a lot of clergy and ex-clergy. If you include missionaries in that category, which I do, I know a whole boatload more. I lived and breathed in that world for over 25 years. One of the tendencies I’ve noted among those of us who are, or were, in the clergy is the propensity for getting our personal identity from our title or position. This often ends up causing spiritual and emotional problems for us.

There is a particularly dangerous perk when one is a member of the titled clergy. It is the perk of unearned reverence or respect.  Usually one is introduced as, “This is Pastor So and So.” Or, “this is What’s Her Name, she’s a missionary.” Of course the not so subtle subtext on this introduction is, “so treat with reverence and respect their opinion on all things religious.” In some circles the clergy even have special uniforms so that people will know who they are, otherwise their opinions might be treated as average and mundane.

In my particular case, when I was ordained[1], I had a special friend who addressed all my letters to Rev. Ross Rohde. This was 30 years ago when letters actually existed. I was actually introduced to people as Rev…you get the picture. Have you ever stopped to think how ridiculous the title Reverend is? Literally it means this is a person to be revered.

Revere: to show devoted deferential honor to: regard as worthy of great honor.[2]

Should we have a special class of people who are treated deferentially? I’ll let Paul answer that question. On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. (I Cor. 12: 22-25)

It should come as no surprise that being treated reverentially can go to our heads. For a few it is an intense adrenaline rush. For most, it is an unnoticed, unconscious, tacit problem that still deeply and negatively touches our ego. Those of us placed in this revered category, whether we like it or not, end up subconsciously playing the role. We are quick in any religious discussion to share our opinions. We are all too prone to dominate the agenda. We feel that others should respect our experience and position. Let’s face it, its fun to be a big shot, or at least the biggest guppy in the mud puddle. If we become aware of our ego issue, we try to hold our tongue, to sit on our hands…but it’s tough, real tough.

But here’s the even more devastating problem I’ve noticed. What happens when one is no longer a member of the clergy? What happens when your identity has been stripped away? What happens when the people who were calling you Reverend, fire you? What happens when the Reverend has to become an insurance agent to survive? That can be an incredible blow to one’s identity. The clergy are just as much victims of the clergy/laity system as are the laity. Both end up getting wounded by it.

Here’s the truth, whether we like it or not, a godly plumber is no less holy than a godly bishop. Popes or pastors have no more or less access to God than we do. God’s calling to be a waiter at the coffee shop is every bit as sacred as being called to the dangerous streets of Mogadishu. It might even be more strategic for the Kingdom. My cousin is called to be a cheese maker. I don’t doubt that calling in his life, nor does it make me, a twenty-five year veteran of overseas missions, any holier than he is. We both love Jesus and are obeying our calling from our Lord. Isn’t that enough?

The issue isn’t one class of people being more holy than another. It isn’t a matter of one calling being more special than another. The issue is obedience to the calling Jesus has called us to? Are we continuing to become the people he wants us to be? Let’s not get our identity from making cheese or being a denominational executive. Let’s just be identified by who lives in our hearts and minds.

  • Are all callings life time callings? Can God call someone to be in full time ministry; then have what some would consider a menial job? Are they less of the person they always were?
  • Where do you think this division of status came from? I can assure you it doesn’t come from the New Testament.
  • Is there still room for special respect for those who have demonstrated godly maturity and wisdom? Is an auto mechanic or a full time mother any more or less likely to be spiritually mature and wise than a full time minister? Can’t being a full time mechanic or mother be full time ministry?
  • Have you ever known non-clergy who were deeply spiritual and wise? Have you ever known people in professional ministry who shamed the name of Jesus with their behavior?

[1] I don’t believe in ordination any more since it has no support biblically. But, like everyone else, I was fitting into the system I knew.

[2] Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary: .


(c) 2012 Ross Rohde

Originally posted on Ross Rohde’s Blog here

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