Thursday, June 29, 2006

too honest?

This is an article I lifted from Peter Lublink's blog.

LARK NEWS — Brentwood Community Church’s congregation has asked its pastor to stop using the pulpit as his public confessional and to set boundaries on what he’s willing to share.

“Every week he confesses another personal weakness,” says one member. “You get twitchy wondering what’s next.”

The personal confession streak started after Pastor Greg Ott attended a pastors conference in Chicago. He returned and told the church he was embracing a “new vulnerability” with them.

“That sounded great until we realized it meant he would dump his dirty laundry on us every Sunday,” says one church member.

In the rhythm of his sermon, Ott’s confession usually comes a third of the way through, his people say. On a recent Sunday morning the congregation seemed to collectively cringe as he stepped around the pulpit and said, “Let me be real transparent with you …”

“I brace myself until he spits it out,” says Jocelyn Garnet. “It makes for a tense service.”
One week Ott admitted he was sometimes tempted to claim Starbucks food purchases as ministry-related tax deductions. Another time he said he “struggled with angry outbursts,” and occasionally “barked” at fast food drive-thru employees. He even said he sometimes walks “a little too slowly” by the Victoria’s Secret store in the mall.
Lay leaders decided to broach the matter with Ott because the church was getting a reputation as the home of the “TMI pastor,” (short for “too much information”).
Ott says he just wants to be real with his people.

“I struggle like they do,” he says. “It’s okay for them to know that.”
But many in his church disagree.

“I don’t stand in the foyer and announce my weekly failings,” says Robert Walker, 79. “I want to be uplifted at church. One hopes the pastor would lead by good example, not regale us with his peccadilloes.”

Honesty? Is there such thing as TMI?

I have to say that, as a part time worship leader, one of the most valuable things I learned from one of my own worship mentors was the value of being honest behind the mic. I was very uncomfortable with it at first. Jeff would get up there and share that his pride was out of control and that he was really focussed on looking cool that morning. And I would think, "oh mean Jeff, didn't anybody ever teach you that you're supposed to keep the congregation in the dark about those things?" But then I would watch as, not only Jeff's own struggle with sin would slip off of his shoulders, but as other people in the audience would let go of their own struggles and just worship.

I hope this pastor sticks to his guns. This sounds like an important lesson his church needs to learn. God bless him for being willing to stick his neck out to teach it to them.

Comments on "too honest?"


Blogger Nicole_Hostetler said ... (7:01 PM) : 

I guess the question is, why is it being shared? Is it because it's what he learned at a conference or is it to make a point to the congregation that he's human too? I don't think he needs to keep his congregation in the dark, and yes we should be "transparent" but again is it for the congregation's benefit and encouragement or for ours? Does it make us feel better or are we using our struggles to teach those who have been placed in our circle of influence? A lot of questions, but I think we need to make certain what we are sharing isn't going to take the emphasis off the point we are trying to get across with Scripture.


Blogger Cari said ... (4:49 AM) : 

Totally agree with Nicole-is it for their benefit or his own? You hide things, it's gonna come back to you. But you have a confession-of-the-week thing and you're in a new kind of rut. He may have to take his congregation's cue and back off a little. I hate that the old guy said that he "came to church to feel good and be uplifted," or whatever. Too sad. Sounds like to me this guy's bordering on reverse humility, where you draw negative attention to yourself. Our weaknesses are beneficial in that God becomes strong thru us, but I think there's an anointed time and place for us to share a struggle in order to bear witness to God's prevailing grace-not just rattling them off to say, "See, I'm just like you." Teachers are held to a higher standard, and we don't always need to know just HOW like us our teachers are! But who knows??


Blogger Sean said ... (10:55 PM) : 

I think that there needs to be more honesty from teachers and leaders within the church. I don't necessarily think it needs to be a "here's what I am struggling with." If the only spiritual formation a person gets is during the sermon on Sunday morning, then that sort of "transparency" probably only goes so far and the person will feel spent after their one spiritual time is wasted listening to how someone else has problems.

And, I just got back from taco bueno. It was definitely worth the price of admission.


Blogger Sean said ... (2:54 AM) : 

Julie and I are in Witchita, KS for the long weekend, here there is taco bueno.


Blogger jamie said ... (6:21 AM) : 

sometimes the pendulum has to swing a little bit too far in the other direction before we find balance. that may be what is going on here. but as the pendulum has been firmly stuck at one extreme so long, i think it is an overbalance in the right direction...if it is an overbalance. there is no way to know from the article.

but it is nice to see someone possibly erring in a new direction out of a sincere heart... that is often where radical changes occur.

i find it refreshing.


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