Some people don’t like that I’m a Pastor
I meet lots of new people in my city regularly, whether its through sports, community events, or social/business groups like the YPCR. Inevitably, after a very well mannered introduction, some form of this question is asked, “So what do you do?” I’ve basically tailored my response to be something simple along these lines, “I serve as a pastor at a new church in our city.” I usually get 1 of 3 types of responses.
- “Oh! Interesting. So how ’bout those Canucks?” This response is well-mannered, but genuinely not interested…at least not at the moment.
- “Tell me more! Why did you decide to start a new church? Where do you meet?”
- “Aren’t there enough churches? Where do you get the nerve to think we need another church?”
Serving as a full-time Pastor has given me some interesting opportunities to talk about what I do and why. I want to spend some time on the 2nd and 3rd responses in light of this portion of a letter to the Corinthians from the Apostle Paul, who was rejoicing in the many opportunities he had to talk about Jesus wherever he went…he observed 2 kinds of responses.
But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.
For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.
~ 2 Corinthians 2:14-17 (ESV)
The second response (“tell me more”) is refreshing to me. Its always nice to talk to someone who is genuinely interested in knowing more about why a new church would be started. I get to talk about the Gospel and how it motivates followers of Jesus to be Gospel-bringers who bring the message and ministry of the Gospel wherever we are, which will end up with new churches taking shape. In one sense, we are the “aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and…a fragrance of life to life.”
This is not what its like for the 3rd response.
The third response is a bit of an attack. “Aren’t there enough churches? What gives you the nerve to think we need a new church?” Often the response isn’t this negative to start with, but as they ask and I answer the questions in much the same way as I answer the 2nd person’s question, this person gets more and more agitated…even to the point of walking away and not wanting to hear me talk anymore. They’re asking questions, but not with a desire to hear my answer. They want me to know they don’t like Jesus or the Church or at least that I shouldn’t be starting a new one. Its a visible physical response like a stench of ammonia in someone’s face…just like Paul was talking about: “…among those who are perishing…a fragrance from death to death.”
If followers of Jesus, like myself, did not have as clear a calling as we do to bring the message and ministry of the Gospel wherever we go, then we might be discouraged by this 3rd response. But we are not discouraged. In fact, personally, I am invigorated knowing that Paul received similar responses (and much worse). Like Paul, we can stand firm and march on, knowing that God has called us to this, “For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.”
What kinds of responses have you seen? Do you get encouraged/discouraged when sharing about Jesus?
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