There are three of us planting theStory, a church plant here in Sarnia. I was 17 or so when I first decided I wanted to plant a church in Sarnia, and my ideas of what the church would look like, let alone my role in the church have changed quite a bit since then. When I first imagined a church plant I pictured a youth group with older people in it. I’d run it the same way I’d run a youth group. I would spend my days preparing the upcoming Sunday’s sermon, make sure the drama ideas, powerpoints, songs, activities all flowed perfectly together and woo people with a great production. The music would be better than any church, the preaching would be more informed and better educated than anywhere else and it would just be cool. My role was more of a production manager, but I knew I was good at that.
theStory is anything but a production. We show up and sit on couches and usually start 20-30 minutes after we say we are going to. Kids are running around screaming; sometimes we give them instruments so they can participate, which never makes for a lovely sound. The sermon is always broken up by people asking questions and people making ridiculous and brilliant comments. There are no lights and our sound system sucks. To top if all off, there are three of us planting this church, not just one. All this is to say that my role is much different than I imagined it to be.
Our first year we had budgeted 40k for salaries and in our second year we can only afford 15k. Does this change our roles and what we do in the church because the leaders aren’t paid as much? If it does, should it? How do we decide who gets what money? I’m 23, Darryl is 25 and Joe is over 30; should our ages play any role in what our responsibilities are? Some of us are better educated than others, should that change anything? Some of us have families to feed, should that change anything?
There are a million questions that we are asking to figure out exactly how this style of pastoring works. I do know though that nothing I learned in Bible College, or working at other churches, or read in any books have helped me very much. In a lot of ways we feel alone in this. Sometimes I look for guidance in those that aren’t in official pastoring jobs but I see as strong leaders, they usually have a lot more insight.
So what is my role? I’m not exactly sure. I’m still trying to figure out that question. I think all three of us are. I know I do a lot of things for theStory. I know I think about it day and night. I know I cast visions for it. I know I teach on Sundays and try to help build a healthy theology in the community. I know I try and help people build community with each other. I know I worry about the finances and help do the books. I know I feel a sense of pride when talking about the community and also a sense of responsibility on how the community looks to the outside world. What separates me from anyone else in the community?
Is the pastor’s role to think and act on behalf of the church full time? Does that make someone a pastor? Is someone officially a pastor if they are paid to be one? Is a pastor one that teaches on Sunday? Is a pastor one who is responsible for the spiritual well-being of a community? Does a pastor have to be full time?
I’m feeling a series coming on. Defining what a pastor is and what they do and if it’s really a necessary part of a community in that it’s a paid position. Or have we just made up positions in the church to pass off our responsibility and to keep with the Hebrew Bible ideas that priests go to God on behalf of us.