Monday, November 12, 2007
Are you a prejudice pastor and don't know it?
Usually when we hear the word "prejudice" we think of of racial or sexist comments. Imigary of white hoods, burning crosses and swastickas or maybe Black Panthers come to mind. Or maybe you imagine interviews with women being prejudged in her ability to do a job because they are pretty blondes. But what ever you think of when you think of prejudice, get it out of your mind for the purpose of this post.
I'm talking about a different type of prejudice. I'm talking about Pastoral Prejudice. What do I mean? Allow me to explain. Most church leaders develop their ministry with a certain type of person in mind. This person is usually popular, out-going, nice looking and probably a person of financial means. If their a youth pastor, they probably think about the captain of the cheerleaders, football team, band leader, class president or some other "cool" kid in the local schools because they can SURELY add some credibility to our program. The captian of the football team is like the holy grail of youth ministry! If we get someone like that, we can REALLY make some noise, right? Then, we just kind of ho-hum our noses at the "ordinary" or even "odd" or "geeky" kids. But when the mayor's son comes in - WATCH OUT NOW! We've struck pay dirt! Its the ministry motherload! Or its one of the local millionares that get the special trips to lunch and your personal cell phone number while the normies get the regular handshake and God bless you. This is prejudging someone's significance based on their social or economic status.
That's ugly. Do we target, prepare for or program with the people who are normies? People of no significant financial or social status? Do we plan with the weird kid who wears all black in mind? We we program with the homeless person in mind? Do we get equally excited about the millionare walking through the doors as we do the dollar-menunaire? What about the no name kid from the college campus? Does he get as much of our emotional attention or as much focus in our outreach and disiciple programming as the basketball player from the college who EVERYONE knows is going pro? What about the introvert who wears second hand clothes on purpose and carries a container of humus in her handmade hemp bag? Do we focus as much attention on her as we do the outgoing pretty brunette with all the latest fashion and a huge social network?
Its sad but it happens... a lot. Let's not evaluate people on what we think they can do for us, but rather let's evaluate people on what we can do for them. I used to have pastoral prejudice. And don't get me wrong, I know there is an arguement for taking those people as an opportunity. But I'd rather view them as an opportunity to vessels for God and not bragging rights for my ministry. I'd rather help the fringe people draw close to God. There are a lot of normies or fringe people or what ever demographic segment they fall in. To me, they are people and honestly, there are too many of them for me not to get excited at the prospect of seeing all of them as dedicated disciples of Jesus Christ.
So please, let's end pastoral prejudice and let's love people - period.