Invisible Church: Ministering From a Place of Privilege?

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 7.25.19 PMA BOOK REVIEW

“One thing I know from both the taxi and life, is that being invisible is hard and it is lonely and it hurts.”

Author Pat Green is my friend and I felt humbled and blessed to be at the pre-launch of his new book. I was saddened that the pub was not bursting at the seams with the scores of Christians and congregants that once followed his ministry. I’m sure that he was not surprised.

“Night Moves: An Ex-Preacher’s Journey to Hell in a Taxi” is a poignant account of Pat’s story and how rejection, divorce, brokenness and unemployment led him to driving a taxi and nightly encounters of human tragedy and loneliness.

It was just a couple of months ago that I realized that I was no longer seeing Facebook updates from Pat. I’m glad I found him and his writings once again but I am embarrassed to say that I never knew that his world had been turned upside down. To others, and myself Pat became invisible and there are many living just outside the walls of our churches who remain unknown. Pat’s introduces us to some of their stories.

“In a city that spans seven zip codes with well over 100,000 people, that boasts over 200 churches and has signs claiming all are welcome, she has to pay retail for her community.”

Pat found scores of broken people in need of community and found himself loved by his new TeleCab co-workers while at his lowest. When his father died of a heart attack, he returned to work and a card filled with warm condolences. His operations manager “did better than many ministers I know and we are trained for that stuff,” he shares. He continues, “I have almost every word in that card memorized.”

Where were we, church? Invisible.

Throughout the book there are convicting passages that exhort the church and her leaders to “stop trying to ‘minister’ from a place of privilege.” He recalls his time as a pastor thinking he was “the hero” with the answers but comes to grips with the disquieting truth that we have no solution.

11390067_1623615991243432_9128950744981564004_nI highly recommend this book – especially to my local pastor friends. These stories from the streets of Joliet are a wake-up call to those who may spend the majority of their time with planning and processes and miss what’s really going on with people. Real ministry takes place when we get involved in the real and raw everyday life of those in our communities. Pat reminds us that we “are never going to change the streets with a church. All a church can be is an oasis…” “Jesus did not go out among the people and help them find a synagogue home. He invited them to live together in the trenches.”

I am a non-fiction reader and usually have a hard time reading short stories, but Pat has a way with words and making every scene come to life. I loved every easy-to-read chapter and was astounded by Chapter 28 “We’ll Fix It.” I didn’t even use a highlighter until the end of the chapter leaving behind a brightly inscribed WOW!

If you pick up your own copy of the book – you will laugh, you will cry, and hopefully you will be changed forever. The lives of others depend on it. We cannot remain invisible!

WARNING: This book does contain language, but so do the streets.

 

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One Step

Well today was a roller coaster ride – up and down, high and low, faith and frustration, trust and ticked off.

Two church services at two wonderful churches who are headed down the right path – they’re doing it right and that’s great to see in a day and age when churches have it so wrong. Two wonderful messages – getting it right on the church and teaching it straight on salvation.

A possible rental home that seems too perfect to be true.

An incredible baptism with three churches doing life together and in different languages – what a blessing and a glimpse
of restoration and eternity.

I was riding high and then . . A possible rental home that seems too perfect to be true – I drove by this afternoon
and it really might not be true.

My faith in God = stronger than ever and then support
I thought would come through for us = didn’t.

You know, I’m a preacher and I’ve been called by God to take a risk and do something BIG and we will and He will – BUT to be honest – at times you wonder . . . what the heck is going on and why aren’t things coming together.

I must remember -they are and they will. Sacrifice is hard, Risk is (well) risky, Trust and Faith is so easy BUT yet soooo hard.

One Step Forward and Two Steps Back? Maybe. But God knows the direction and maybe my plans were headed in the wrong direction. I really don’t know. This I do know . . . He called us to bring the gospel – the good news of His Kingdom to Joliet and nothing will keep me from taking . . .

another step forward.

Alone in J-Town

I told Suzette tonight that I’m missing the crying and screams of home. I really am. Those tears, voices, fighting, arguing, etc. All those unwanted noises and interruptions – I miss them. I miss them because I miss the ones that exude such unwelcome utterances.

I miss family. I miss her snoring, sweet kindnesses, and big heart – I miss his game addiction, his guitar strums, and dad and son talks – I miss her defiance, her artistic talents, and her precious smile – I miss her stubbornness, her self conversations, and her hugs – I miss his middle of the night diaper changes, cold feet, and precious laughter.

I miss my wife. I miss everything about her. I am nothing without her.

God knows. He will answer soon. We will once again fall into each others embrace.

So for now, I’m alone in J-Town but soon the Hinkles will be sharing their quirks, love, voices, and hearts to a city in need of love. Our family is loaded. Watch out, here we come.

Journey Musings

OK, so I’ve been in Joliet for three whole days now and have begun my fourth day on this new journey. God has already taught me several things about myself, the mission, and his ways. Let me share a few musings along the way . . .

SUNDAY – It was so hard saying goodbye to family and step out in faith to begin looking for a job and home. I gained a new respect for those in our military and their families. Leaving family, sacrificing all, not knowing if they will ever see home or loved ones again all for our country, you, and me. My sacrifices to leave family and follow Christ’s leading are so small in comparison.

MONDAY – Joliet is so huge and I feel so inadequate. What great need BUT what a great God! I thought that there had been one other church plant in Joliet that began 2 years ago and came to find out that it was a church restart. The people of Joliet need Christ and very few are in the community to share the way of Christ and His love. Church plants are being funded in other Chi-town suburbs and cities BUT not in Joliet (supposedly the numbers and statistics don’t add up). What doesn’t add up to me is – what about people and need? That’s the statistic that matters to God. He saw the multitudes and had compassion. And why is it that church planting organizations are looking for the young “put together” entrepreneurs to do His work? I don’t qualify to “do the work”, but what about God’s call and Him supplying us and doing what is right despite our weaknesses? When writing His story, God equipped and used many people despite their weaknesses to do His work. With God’s help, we will make a difference in Joliet!

TUESDAY – The sweet lady at the Post Office. If we would just open our eyes and see each moment as an opportunity to be Christ to others, we could change the world! She was so welcoming. She found out we were moving in the area and shared her 2 favorites of Joliet – the bike trail and a local candy store. I hope we meet again.

WEDNESDAY – Still no big job leads or houses. Sometimes it’s hard to trust God and His timing. He reminded me today that it’s not just all about the answers, the conclusions, the good endings. It’s about the journey. God has a job and house for us! Right now, He wants me to enjoy the journey and touch lives, learn the area, pray for the city, experience life, fall more in love with Him. Yes, I must do my part and not just sit back BUT I must not miss what God has for me to learn and experience each day on this journey.

Some quotes from one of my latest readings . . .

“I far too often view waiting on God as an interruption to my life rather than a mind-set that could be helpful or ultimately play a role in making m more spiritually minded. Waiting on God is perhaps one of the most important and significant spiritual disciplines that a follower of Jesus can pursue. Waiting equals seeking. Waiting equals serving. Waiting equals surrender. Waiting on God is a holy engagement of the life that we are presently experiencing; it’s a here and now journey that asks us to become selflessly consumed with our environment. I think waiting on God is a constant reality; it’s not simply a hurdle we have to jump or a requirement we have to pass.” Matthew Paul Turner

“I believe one of the best ways we can worship God is to enjoy life. When I learned to stop fearing what I could not control and started living each day with as much energy as the good Lord gave me, That’s when I really started living.” Lindsey Brown

(excerpts from Hokey Pokey by Matthew Paul Turner)