I have been a long time reader of Chris Elrod’s blog, and he recently announced his departure from the blogosphere. To say goodbye, I am posting one of his final posts below that all church planters (and all who are followers of Jesus), should read. I strongly encourage you to also go and browse his archives (which are still active).
You will be missed Chris! (2014 Update… It looks like he’s back)
You Gotta Love that Sh*t
by Chris Elrod
Curse words are just words … but oh what a tapestry of division they can weave.
Recently I was meeting in a restaurant with some other church leaders. Sitting near us were two truck drivers that were cussing up a storm in their conversation. In between f-words and a-words one of the guys said REAL LOUD… “You gotta love that sh*t!”
That was the final straw for one of the pastors at our table and he asked the waitress if we could move to a different location … because he was offended by the language of the men.
That’s when it hit me … some people are offended by cussing … but it’s music to my ears. When I hear cussing … I hear people far from God. When I hear people far from God … I hear an opportunity to make an impact for the Kingdom of God.
I seriously don’t understand “leaders” that plant churches that appeal to themselves. I don’t understand “leaders” that plant churches to reach other church people. I really don’t understand “leaders” that plant churches with no real heart to reach people far from God.
Don’t get me wrong … reaching people far from God is messy.
They cuss … they have serious issues … they smell … they drink … they live lifestyles that are at times really repulsive. Reaching people far God also means going to places that church folks have been taught not to go. People FAR from God do not hang out in Starbucks or Junior League meetings … they hang out in bars, porn shops, downtown streets, bowling allies, courtrooms, emergency rooms, and R-rated movies.
It’s not easy … it’s not pleasant … it’s not always rewarding.
However, reaching people far from God with the Gospel of Jesus Christ is what the Father called us to do.
I know that quite a few potential church planters read my blog so let me say this to you:
If you don’t want to do ministry that is messy … don’t plant a church.
If you just want to “feed the saints” … don’t plant a church.
If you just want to stop having to take orders from your current pastor … don’t plant a church.
If you just got fired, let go or laid off from a ministry position … don’t plant a church.
If you are still trying to impress seminary professors with your preaching skills … don’t plant a church.
In fact, if you think planting a church is cool … don’t plant a church.
If you think those things, it’s probably going to be best for you to get a job in your state denominational office … where it’s safe, there’s a steady paycheck and you only have to interact with other Christians.
On the other hand…
… if you love the smell of vomit and beer
… if you love to hear about people’s addictions
… if you love hearing the f-bomb dropped by every member of a family (including kids)
… if you love people wearing halter tops and Budweiser t-shirts in the Sunday service
… if you love people putting three dollars cash in the offering plate and crossing their arms during worship
… if you love getting 3 a.m. marriage counseling calls
… then by all means … plant a church.
I’m not talking about you liking that stuff … I’m talking about … you gotta love that sh*t!!!
Church planting done right is messy … and attracts messy people.
If you don’t have a passion for the mess … if you don’t hear someone cussing and think, “That person is a potential guest for my church” … if you don’t wake up every day with an unquenchable thirst to see people far from God come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior … church planting is going to be a miserable experience for you!!!
Vin Thomas says
It was not too long ago that I was a punk a$$ kid on my way to hell, but God used someone who was willing to get their hands dirty to reach out to me.
Thanks for the awesome post. Too bad Chris took his blog down.
This confused me: …if you love people putting three dollars cash in the offering plate and crossing their arms during worship…
What’s wrong with crossing your arms? And we used to put ONE dollar in the collection plate, but we tithed either monthly or annually.
I guess I’m about as far from God as one can be without being actively evil, but I don’t (usually) stink, hang out on the street or frequent the courts or emergency room.
I do drink and smoke. I have been known on occasion to visit bars and porn shops (it was Times Square, whaddaya want?) and I do love the R-rated movies. I also use the “f-word” quite liberally, but I wouldn’t be caught dead in a Budweiser t-shirt. That’s just uncalled for. 🙂
When I was on tour we played one of our shows at St. Joseph’s Abbey in southeast Louisiana (about 30 miles from New Orleans). We had one fundamentalist girl, I’ll call her Laurie, who was just fascinated by the place and didn’t really know how to relate with the monks. I guess it was some kind of reverence brought on by the mysticism of the windows and wood and the cassocks. The ordained brother was really into theatre and was helping us get our lights and sound set up. At one point he dropped something on his foot (probably a light, maybe a wrench) and exclaimed, “God-dammit!” Laurie was floored. She looked at him with her mouth hanging open and she turned bright red. Without missing a beat, he said, “It’s okay. He and I have an understanding.”
Having grown up in New Orleans and been educated by monks who must have had quite an exceptional understanding with the Lord, I totally understood. I had to explain to her later that Catholics are a little different and French Catholics even more so.
Just read this, soooo right on!! Look how Jesus lived on earth and who He hung out with, not at all “typical” for us church goers. I Pray lots of people read this. Do you mind if I post it on my blog? I’ll be more than happy to give your blog link for all to check out. God bless you here on the blogsphere who truely want to be the real hands and feet, love of Jesus.
Randy Siever says
Beautiful. Thanks for reposting this, Jeremy! Praying for you and your family!
B Crump says
I get where the dude is coming from. And, yes, I have had several friends over the years decide that they would “plant” a church for all the wrong reasons and I told them so.
What I hate here is the categorization of people based on their diction, wardrobe, and family dynamics. His heart is in the right place, but he’s looking at it all wrong. In many situations the folks in those bars wearing those bud shirts using the word fuck as a comma are the ones that can show the average church-goer who God really is.
Maybe I’m just cranky today, but this guy’s got it all wrong. I’m not questioning his intentions, but I also know that most of the worst stuff that takes place within every church is done with the best of intentions.
You learn to value the person before your eyes or ears or nose cause you to categorize them and then you can start talking to me about “reaching people for God.” Same ole b.s. Always trying to have a one way conversation with folks. Never once taking into consideration that many of the upper-middle class white collar crowd sitting in your pews are some of the most despicable hypocrites you ever want to meet. Closet alcoholics cheating on their spouses hording money and material possessions while spreading gossip about the “Smiths” and how their poor pathetic teenage daughter is pregnant. THAT is where the vomit smell is coming from.
It’s just wrong…
Jeremy Myers says
You know, back then, I never saw it this way. I think I do now. Those often categorized as “far from God” are the addicts, prostitutes, and drunkards, but according to Jesus, they are the ones who are actually closest to the Kingdom of Heaven.
Very interesting point! And dead on.
B Crump says
Shawn Christopher Trumbo says
I wonder if Paul loved getting stoned? But for the joy set before Him He endured suffering. The suffering of Christ Jesus.