It has been a week when people who don't know me particularly well have asked me the question: "What kind of pastor are you?"
It's a funny question because I know that it comes with alternative motives. It's a litmus test question of sorts for folks to try to pin me into one theological camp or another. It's a question that people ask usually already having their mind made up as to what I'm like before they even met me. (I do have blonde hair, but let that not fool you!)
But no matter the motives of the hearers, I seek to answer truthfully. In honest and respectful dialogue, I hope whoever is asking the question and I can grow in relationship with one another from conversation. So, let me start:
So what kind of pastor am I?
- I am a pastor who seeks to model and lead authentic community. Going to church and being in Christian community, for me is all about being able to share one's life without fear of judgment. I tell folks all the time, "Come to church and be yourself. Don't worry about what you are wearing. Don't worry about what you say. Don't worry about having a prior understanding of faith. Just come as you are." And for this reason, I blog. I share my life with the congregation (and others of you out there too) as a way of being accountable to the type of life I desire to lead.
- I am a pastor who thinks Christ calls us to welcome all people into the church. No matter what. And, I mean ALL people. See the mission statement on the front of our church website if you don't believe me. I could not go to a church that didn't have all flavors, colors and languages of people anymore. Without people who don't look like us in the pews and around the tables, our view of the gospel is stunned.
- I am a pastor who doesn't think that it is my job to "lord" over the congregation. We are Baptists after all and part of what it means to be Baptist is the priesthood of all believers. I see to learn from my congregation members as much as I ask them to learn from me.
-I am a pastor who knows that living together in community is hard, but well worth the effort. It's tough work being church, especially when disagreements arrises and feelings are hurt. But God always calls us to take the higher ground to love and support our brothers and sisters in Christ even if we don't 100% agree with them.
-I am a pastor who may not look like, talk like, dress like or act like what you expect out of clergy, but it doesn't make me any less called or faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ to which I cling. People tell me all the time, "You don't look like a pastor." And, I always reply, "Well, come hear me preach and then decide if I look like a pastor to you then." (Usually, minds are changed)
-I am a pastor who knows it is my job to love, care for and support the spiritual journeys of any God brings to my congregation. This means you will find me at the hospital, in homes, on the phone and talking over text with church members as needed. You can't be a pastor unless you know your people.
-I am a hands-on pastor not afraid to work in the kitchen, bake for the Sunday lunch or attend a Bible Study even if I am not leading it. Sometimes we just need extra hands to get the job done. I'm willing to be used in whatever way if it means I'm encouraging others to learn to use their gifts for service in the church too.
- I am a pastor who isn't afraid to speak up on issues of justice, even when this doesn't make me the most popular person. Consider this recent challenge on fear of change that I wrote for the Associated Baptist Press.
If you are looking for a church to worship with this Easter Sunday in the Northern VA area, know that this pastor and my wonderful church can't wait to meet you. (See our website for worship times this weekend). Together Washington Plaza and I are blazing a new trail of what the church will look like in the 21st century! It's exciting work and I'm proud to be the pastor of my lovely, open-minded and faith seeking congregation.