I’ve noticed a lot of churches have picked up on the idea that authenticity, honesty and being real matter. For far too long, Christians and those in the church have been more like plastic people than real people. We’ve painted on smiles Sunday morning as we head to church with our family, only to quickly wipe them off when people find out we’re getting divorced and they had no idea. We quote Bible verses so we appear like we’ve read the Bible recently and are continuing to grow, even though we learned them in some discipleship class years ago (or worse, decades ago as children). We even condemn Hollywood and the depravity of today’s media, while all the while we’ve added our $7 to the weekend box office and share our favorite lines from the raunchy TV show we watch weekly.
Yep, we’ve been and often still are, famous for living in the Land of Contradiction. Maybe I should use a more Biblical term….the Home of Hypocrisy?
So what does it mean to be “real”? I can’t answer that for everybody, but for me it’s about being honest, transparent, vulnerable and open. Just this week I was at a church planter’s forum where we were talking about the role of a pastor. A few were saying the pastor needs to keep a distance and be careful around people because he’s the pastor. I couldn’t disagree more. I think the pastor needs to be real where ever he is. He should be no different in his home on Tuesday night than he is at the ball field on Thursday than the golf course Saturday and speaking on Sunday. He should relate to people where they’re at, but love them (like Jesus) too much to let them stay there. He shouldn’t be afraid for people to find out that he’s human and struggles sometimes too. Having a “pastor persona” only adds to the compartmentalization of people’s faith – why else would they act different around the pastor? Faith should be integrated.
What got me going on all this was an email I got from someone who comes to church without their spouse. They’ve been coming for months and their spouse hasn’t – mostly because they don’t want anything to really do with God now. So I get this email….
Thank you, too, for being willing to befriend just about anyone, making everyone feel welcome, and although I know it is really who you are, sometimes you don’t know how much it means to the people you reach. I have sat back for months to absorb everything, to figure out if I can ‘trust’ what I’m hearing/seeing, but I have really come to enjoy being part of the church and meeting new people and making new friends, better friends. I’ve briefly [mentioned that] it’s been a rough couple of years for us, but we promised each other that 2007 would be a good year and it has been and church has been a big part of that for me, and I want [my spouse] to feel some of it too
That’s what we mean when we say “real.” We’re sharing “real” answers. We’re dealing with “real” lives. We give people “real” opportunities. No more plastic people, no more Sunday-only living, no more pretending, playing or faking it. Let’s keep it REAL (authentic, unaltered and believable)