What church work feels like

There are  people who are tired of eating mush every day. They are weary and have been rejected and desperately in need of sweetness and flavor and good news.

So you learn how to make cookies where there were none.

And a bunch of people love it and say, I never knew these flavors existed! I’m alive! 

But then some other people say,

I’m hurt, why did you make cookies, you should have made chicken! Cookies are wrong, you’ve neglected all of us.

So you make chicken and some people say, about time! Thank you!

But other people say, how dare you! I can’t believe you didn’t consider us bird lovers! Here you go again always being the source of pain and division.

So you make some salad and some folks are glad and happy. One even sends you your first ever email thanking you for spending so much time getting paid poorly and not having any benefits and for taking the time to make food for people who had none.

But then a blog gets written, and it’s all about the fact that the salad wasn’t fully organic. 

You respond by saying actually, it was organic and we said that last week during announcements. 

It didn’t seem to matter, as a campaign gets started with the hashtag #keepchurchorganic. Lots of people who’ve never had your salad or who were there when you woke up early to pick the lettuce and clean it before anyone showed up start posting about how you’ve hurt them. Some people are hurt and tell you you’re wrong and can’t believe you’ve never made chicken or cookies. 

So you go to your co-pastor and vent about how much it sucks that people get the story wrong, assume the worst about you, project their pain and brokenness onto you, have expectations of you that you can’t meet, consistently let you down and flake on things they said they would do, tell you that you’re the problem, tell you how to do your job, make things up about you, expect lots from the your work but don’t want to pay for it and when you do mention that food costs money they accuse you of being greedy and corrupt, take your words and twist them, use you, cant seem to see the good in your work, take advantage of your time and heart, expect you  to have food ready at all hours of the day and night, expect you to answer for every person who made food ever, don’t respect your family or personal lives, and make you a caricature to air their all grievances onto.

And your copastor says with divine and supernatural compassion and sincere eyes, yeah those people are so broken and in pain some one should make them a cookie

And you go and make the most holy and sacred and delicious cookies you’ve ever made.

As you share them with your friends, and you too taste the chocolate chip good news and the words “take and eat, this is my body broken for you” seem to come up from within and without your soul. You remember the times you complained about steak, grilled cheese, and sea food- how those foods were all wrong.

You take another bite of the gooey goodness and a melted chocolate chip runs down into your beard.

And then you sing together some songs that your co pastor leads. And you cry, out of gratitude for getting to know so many wonderful people who let you into their pain that is also your pain. 

And You rejoice with praise and exclaim, That’s one God-dammed delicious cookie!

4 thoughts on “What church work feels like

    • Likewise Andrew! The post was more just a window into my fickleness and a conversation that Greg and I had a while back. Overall, I’m profoundly grateful to get to do this work and it is deeply sacred/precious to me! Excited to hear about your time down under!

  1. Chris, my dad and father in law were United Methodist pastors for 40 plus years. Your article is such truth, doing church is rarely easy, but there is joy to be embraced. Thank you for your wonderful perspective.

    • Thanks Ben! You’ve got two pastor-dads and you’re still engaged in church/community- that says something for sure. I’m deeply grateful to have the privilege of doing such meaningful work, even amidst the messiness of it all. I love what Eugene Petersen said when some one asked him after retirement what he missed most about pastoring, he said, “the mess”.

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