Krispy Kreme Flavored Sarcasm = Trouble: Pastoral Redemptions

Krispy Kreme doughnuts are delicious! They also make for a great youth ministry sermon illustration. The trick is, knowing where to find the Krispy Kreme doughnut shop.

In 2004 I was a Summer Youth Minister for a church just north of Charlotte, North Carolina. It was an exciting time, and I wanted to make a good impression with my first sermon for the youth. In other words, it was time to borrow my friend Jeff Prosser’s Krispy Kreme doughnut sermon.

The gist of the message is that you use Krispy Kreme’s mission statement and illustrate the importance of intentional living for Christ. Furthermore, you can use the doughnuts themselves as an illustration to “Taste and see that God is good” as stated in Psalm 34:8.  It is a fun sermon and at the close of it, everyone gets to celebrate with a delicious doughnut. My problem was finding the store’s location.

Not being from North Carolina I had to use MapQuest to print-off directions. Yes, during this time I also used dial-up for the internet and would print off my directions. The iPhone and other smartphones would not be released for another three years.

Finally, with my directions literally in hand, I headed off to the next town where the nearest Krispy Kreme was located. I figured this trip will make for a great adventure. Indeed it did.

Trusting my paper made directions they humorously led me to the 18th hole of a golf course with no Krispy Kreme in-sight. Thankfully there was a nearby drugstore that I thought could help.

Once inside I asked the store associates for directions to the Krispy Kreme. As they provided their assistance it was clear that the doughnut shop was on the other end of town. MapQuest was way off, and the employees struggled to provide clear directions too. After a few attempts, they differed to a customer for better assistance.

The customer – who was in street clothes – was introduced to me when the store associate said, “She can help, she knows these streets well as she is a police officer.” She was in street clothes indicating she was off duty.

Once our introduction concluded my sarcastic mouth spoke before I could stop it. I said, “Oh you’re a police officer. Then you MUST know where the Krispy Kreme is located!” Continue reading “Krispy Kreme Flavored Sarcasm = Trouble: Pastoral Redemptions”

Concluding Pastoral Redemptions…For Now!

Writing this Pastoral Redemption series has been difficult. When I started, I had over 30 stories that I intended to publish. Despite this goal, I believe that some stories are not meant to be shared…For now. In previous times, I did not feel this noble. No, for years I was bitter about many of my church experiences. I did not see God working through them, so I just wanted to play the victim, and felt that when I trash these churches, I am justified. By God’s grace, He never let me write those stories while I was still bitter. Rather, it is only now that I have been able to write any story with two goals in mind:

  1. Write only stories that are humorous
  2. Write only stories that reflect an element of hope and redemption. Remember “God redeems.”

As a result of these goals, some stories I will not share now. Either they are not amusing enough, or they do not display any redemptive qualities…yet. Continue reading “Concluding Pastoral Redemptions…For Now!”

Interviewing the Holy Spirit: Pastoral Redemptions

Discernment of the Holy Spirit is essential. This skill is one that we never master because there is always room for improvement. Still, it is important for Christians to have a baseline understanding on how the Holy Spirit speaks. If anything, to know how the Spirit does not speak. Otherwise, we may just make important spiritual decisions on our own, which we are sure to get wrong from time-to-time.

Unfortunately, it took two difficult pastorates for me to grow in the area of discernment. In fact, as I look back at one set of church interviews, it was clear that God was shouting to me, “DO NOT GO HERE!” Sadly, like many others, I had to learn through the hard path of experience. Continue reading “Interviewing the Holy Spirit: Pastoral Redemptions”

Parsing About the Parsonage: Pastoral Redemptions

Once upon a time, it was thought that I lied to a church about moving into their parsonage. That is not exactly correct. While I failed to communicate my change of mind, I did not lie. These points and more I accept responsibility. More importantly, I am glad for God’s redemption ability despite challenging church leadership and my poor judgment.

As stated in a previous post, “The Church Parsonage is Not a Benefit,” but many churches believe it is an excellent tool to recruit ministers. In some cases, it still is a significant advantage. More and more pastors though are declining to live in them. Like many in their congregation, they want to build equity for their family’s future, which a provided house does not give. As a result, many churches are choosing to sell their parsonages. However, where I once pastored the expectation was still for the pastor to live in the parsonage.

The conflict over me and their parsonage began when a deacon on the Pulpit Search Committee asked

“Brother Mike, I got a question for you! Are you going to live in our pastorium?!”

On asking his question, there was at least one committee member who interjected against this deacon’s question. His objection centered on the previous pastor who experienced problems when he lived in the home owned by the church. Despite this committee member’s concern, the deacon reiterated with,

“Hey, our former pastor needed to get out. When you resign as the pastor, you need to exit the pastorium sooner than later. Besides, we are better than some churches. I know one church who had the water cut off the next day. We gave the former pastor more time than a day!” 

This scenario was a shock to my senses. Not only did I doubt the long-term benefit of living in any parsonage; the committee was admitting their checkered history with their building. Still, I had to give a response, so I said, Continue reading “Parsing About the Parsonage: Pastoral Redemptions”

The Veggie Boat Tour: Pastoral Redemptions

As a pastor, I get to know a diversity of people. Some of these individuals have hobbies and resources they shared with me and my family.Thankfully, these resources have provided good memories from my time as a pastor. Specifically, this story will cause me to fondly remember speedboats, couples’ communication, and veggie sandwiches.

Now, these people are some of my favorite people I have ever had the chance to pastor. Not only are they still they great supporters of both Amy and me, but we had a lot of values we shared together. Still, though they are friends I will refer to them as Larry and Sara in this amusing story.

Our boat journey began at a local State Park where we would put their boat into the lake. Unfortunately, our entry into the lake would be delayed because Larry forgot the ignition keys. This oversight was already embarrassing enough, but to make matters worse Sara fussed at him with her frustration. As an outsider to their debates I believe she too was embarrassed, but for different reasons.

Fortunately, Larry’s mistake was correctable since they only lived 5 miles away. This fact of convenience did not comfort Sara as she still spoke her mind towards Larry about his error. The fervor she expressed seemed like he had done something much worse. Larry, being the wise man he is decided to stop arguing and drive off to get the keys. Finally, he returned and Larry, Sara, Amy and I were on the lake with only a delay of 30 minutes from our original launch time.

Together, we each enjoyed the rest of the morning. As we traveled over the lake’s water Lary and Sara showed us how close their house was to the lake. Additionally, we saw other landmarks such as favorite dive points to the lake’s wealthier homes. It was a fun time and without incident…until lunch. Remember, earlier Larry suffered his share of embarrassment; now it was Sara’s turn. Continue reading “The Veggie Boat Tour: Pastoral Redemptions”

Pastoral Mistakes With the King James Version: Pastoral Redemptions

The phrase, “The King James is from Hell” is one that I said to another church member. It’s a statement I regret saying, but one I said. It was stated from emotion than my actual thoughts about the King James Version (KJV). Sadly, because of my ill-timed phrase, church members could embellish real events connected to Bible translations used under my pastorate. Despite both of our errors, the truth of what occurred was lost, but not forgotten by God.

The Origin of My Ill-Stated Phrase

For the record, I do not believe the KJV is from Hell. In fact, I know God has considerably used it over the last few centuries. It was not until the late 1900s that another modern and accessible English translation even existed. Therefore, despite its weaknesses today; the KJV allowed God’s people to understand the treasure of God’s word for hundreds of years. That’s a historical benefit of the translation that should never be disrespected, which I briefly did.

So, why did I say, “The KJV is from Hell?” Continue reading “Pastoral Mistakes With the King James Version: Pastoral Redemptions”

Learning From Our Mistakes: Pastoral Redemptions

“Let’s start with what you did wrong at the church before we talk about this church’s faults!” 

This one suggestion became a turning point for me. By my friend asking it, I began to process and heal from pastoring some very challenging churches. Before my friend’s comment, much of my discussion about these churches were focused on their faults, and not mine. Yes, the churches I pastored had significant issues. Each one was a “preacher eater” church, which means they had a long history of their pastors leaving consecutively under tense circumstances. However, this truth did not mean I was faultless. No, I made my mistakes, but in those errors, Christ is greater and His glory shows in each situation.

Starting with the next post, I will be occasionally sharing with you some stories from my time at these churches. As I share these posts I will continue to write other entries too. But, as I write about these churches know that you will see my errors. Let me say that again: “YOU WILL SEE MY ERRORS!” Being vulnerable and admitting my mistakes is necessary. Otherwise, I am leaving out the areas where Christ’s gospel moved me from sin to grace, from death to life.

Also, you will see a dire picture of the church. Some of the stories will be amusing; even more will be haunting. Some stories will be short; some will be long. Most importantly, these posts are not meant to shock you with church horror stories. Nor are they a means to just “get things off my chest.” Rather, they are aimed to show Christ’s redemptive gospel.

Due to these caricatures, great care will be given to sterilize the names mentioned in each story. If names are used then aliases will be provided instead of their real names. Many of these people are God’s people, and I still want the best for their faith in Christ.

Restoration in the Gospel and in God’s grace for every circumstance is what I have learned most from these experiences. Much pain and hurt occurred, but it is a two-way street. One where either side caused grief when we did not realize it. Thankfully, the Gospel does not stop at salvation. It continues to redeem, restore, and sanctify us for the rest of our lives. As Joseph said in Genesis 50:20, “what was intended for evil, God intended for good.” Christ came to redeem everything for His glory. My prayer then is that the Holy Spirit will show His grace with each story because the same applies to your story too!