Celebrating a Diverse Praxis

What do you think of when you imagine a Pastor? What is their primary job? If there is a stereotype for pastoring, we don’t seem to fit into it. Join us as we discuss the benefits of having more diversity in the ministries offered within the church!

[017] Prevenient Subversion | Part 1 | Guerrilla Pastors

In This episode with sit down with our second of three Sunday morning focused traditional church pastors. Our guests name is Pastor David Rodes and out conversation revolved around what church is and how he has pastored over the past five decades.  — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/guerilla-pastors/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/guerilla-pastors/support

Transcript

Josiah (Narration): Welcome to the Guerrilla Pastors podcast, I’m Josiah. Today we wrap up our introductory episodes, outlining our convictions and beliefs, which have spurred each of us on to living a life of subversive presence doing guerrilla ministry. So far, we have shared our convictions to be cultivators of broad kingdom imagination as well as our desire to be known for having a benevolent orthodoxy.

Today, we discuss the beauty of celebrating a diverse practice, which will play a major role in the future of this podcast. Join us as we dream about what ministry might look like tomorrow on the Guerrilla Pastors podcast.


The Introductory Hook (features numerous voices): 

“What I noticed was that Christian’s could not have conversation with each other if they disagreed with one another.”

“It’s all about entering in to the textured presence of lived lives. The sanitation of it just broke for me. Like, church can’t be sanitized.”

“I always feel like I’m not what people think of when they think of a pastor.”

“I went to school for youth ministry and have now figured out how to do Construction work. It’s good stuff!”

“The Church is struggling and declining in ways that we’ve never experienced in the United States and Canada right now.”

“We have to like allow ourselves to embrace new way of being in a place.”

“Insurgent revolutions, i.e. guerrilla warfare, is 20% bullets, and 80% blessing the people.”

“How do we be eternally faithful? Like, literally, how do we be faithful in a way today that in 20 years people aren’t going, ‘He was evil!’”

“Why are we so afraid? We believe that God is at work in all places, in all people at all times, and that is amazing. That should give us hope!”

We are the gorilla pastors join us as we explore a world of ministry founded on subversive presence!


Josiah (Narration): Picture of pastor in your mind, I could be wrong, but if I were to guess you just pictured a middle-aged white man in a suit and tie.

Am I close.

How about this?

What is it that the pastor you imagined does. As in, what is the first thing that comes to mind when you imagine the job of a pastor?

I’ll hazard yet another guess that you imagined them preaching behind a pulpit?

Right or wrong… the reason I ask is because not all pastors fit that stereotype, despite how commonplace it tends to be. Perhaps it’s obvious to say that not all pastors are male, or white, or dressed in suits and ties, preaching behind pulpits on Sunday morning. Pastoring is not a one size fits all mold, which is why we think it’s important to celebrate a diverse praxis.

This is just another way of saying that not all pastors are the same and that’s a really good thing.

In a moment, you’re going to hear a conversation we had about this very topic. The irony is that we all have different ideas about what this Guerrilla Pastor thing is all about, but in the end, all we were really interested in doing was celebrating a diverse practice.


Brian: So I’ve been doing this for about 12 years and it’s meant different things at different times. A mentor of mine and I talk about doing the… even though I would have trouble piecing things out… I think everything we do is ministry.

Specifically as Pastor I run the Ballard homestead, it’s a former church of the Nazarene that was closed down in 2012. The denomination came to me and a buddy and asked if we wanted to take responsibility for the building then and there. That started a conversation of how we use it. So after a couple of years of rehabbing it, we reopened it as the Ballard homestead, which is a gift of space to our Ballard neighborhood, around the values of faith, family, justice, environmental care, and the arts.

Alongside that I also coach in a soccer club. Over the years I’ve done anything that not only gets me into the community, but allows me to rub shoulders with people and understand what their values are and what their passions are. That’s been through business, running a business, and coaching at the local high school.

Just anything I can do to be involved in a, in a broader… well… actually I would just say not for me to be involved, but it’s for me to be able to hear a broader, a heartbeat of a neighborhood. So, more then just maybe what I’m involved in

Josiah: Noticeably absent is Sunday morning worship.

Brian: Oh, yes… yes. Yeah, I do not pastor a congregation.

There has been some pressure over years at different times about starting or planting a church as the number one thing I do. Through a lot of conversation and prayer, we just haven’t felt like it was faithful to our neighborhood. There are some good churches in our neighborhood.

There’s a lot of churches and there’s some really healthy ones and we just didn’t feel like we should start another one. There was other ways of doing ministry alongside the existing churches in our neighborhood where we could reach people and serve alongside people who are already doing good work.

Josiah: Do you want to give your three minute spiel of Ryan Fasani the Guerrilla Pastor and Whatcom County.

Ryan: Yeah, I discerned, a call to ministry in a similar way. I think that most of us did, which is a call to what we’ve now learned as a limitation, I think, to our imagination. So while it wasn’t inaccurate at the time, for me, that was in high school, it’s proven to be inaccurate over time.

So the substance of the call, which was a call to minister to the gospel and the good news of Jesus Christ, only was conceived in this sort of like limited paradigm. Included in that were responsibilities like preaching the good news and shepherding the flock and leading people into discipleship.

Should we be successful enough converting people, you know, to be disciples and ultimately to sort of access kind of this heavenly, reality… post humus, heavenly reality… but as life. It sort of shaped me. I realized, I don’t know, maybe in my mid twenties that while all of those were the same, the content of those was radically different.

I mean that in two ways, and I think both of those will help me kind of distill down what my vocational call this. Now one, I realized, I’m not cut out for the template that I was given. Right. So my imagination only allowed me to think of preaching… for example, it’s something that happens from a pulpit on a Sunday morning, with 20 hours of preparation and expositing this passage and translating that to largely uneducated, or at least technically uneducated, congregation.

I’ve learned over time that I’m not cut out for, not so much the rigor of that, but for the apparent inefficacy of that. I’m called to preach the good news in a way that’s powerfully transformative and that wasn’t it for me.

The other thing that happened was life, right?

When a particular imagination doesn’t fit in the ongoing pragmatics of one’s life, you’re forced to either decide to kind of hide who you really are and the way your life works and continually repress that over time or reckon with that, and re-imagine what the call looks like.

So given both of those, the preaching, the shepherding, the discipling and the evangelism all remain, but for me, now… they look… I could not use this word more technically accurate… They look radically different.

So for me, teaching and preaching now looks more like writing and blogging. Where all of the study and the discipline of preparation looks very similar. The goals of course are very similar, but the platform for it, for example, is completely different. So part of what I do, part of my vocation, embodiment now is about a third or, you know, part of it about 30% of it is the same exercise and discipline of preaching.

It just looks radically different in the form of articulating by means of writing. The other parts of my ministry that were limited by my imagination like discipleship, for instance when I was younger, have not at all lost… and maybe arguably have gained kind of a certain zeal that I have now that is consistent with my life.

I realized, and this was a hard one to swallow… I realized that my own ineffectiveness was eclipsed by an effectiveness that I was only sort of a cheerleader for. That was the effectiveness of my wife’s work in the community by way of empowering women and empowering young families to live in a way that was more healthy and in a way that was empowering by giving them birthing options, giving them natural and holistic medicine alternatives, et cetera, et cetera.

I realized over the course of the first 10 years of my ministry, that she had vastly more impact on the lives of families and young people than I ever had sort of slinging, like really, you know, sexy sermons from a pulpit at 45 minute intervals. It dawned on me finally that, oh my goodness… Discipleship doesn’t look like Sunday school… Doesn’t look like small groups necessarily… Doesn’t look like all of the kind of limiting environments that we’ve shoved it into.

So it’s become over time an empowerment of skillset. Right? So it’s us giving people skills to live a particular faithful life given our current challenges. So for me, that looks like giving people the skills of eating and eating in a way that empowers their bodies, giving them the skills to cultivate a relationship with the land and stewarding natural resources that is ultimately faithful to the kingdom ethic.

All, again, all radically different than I first imagined, but very much consistent with that early version of my calling. So a big part of what I do is literally skillset sharing. Right? You might say, you know, skill training and trade training around food, fruit, preparation, food, growing food, preserving, and of course food eating.

Then there’s a little part of my calling that was rather dormant early on because there wasn’t a place in the local church for it that has now become kind of front and center. That is actually the art of gathering. That’s usually relegated to kind of like the hospitality committee or something like that, and it’s sidelined in the church and hopefully it runs well and only gets attention if it goes bad.

Well, that’s become front and center in our gatherings is hospitality.

Brian: I want to back up and just give an underline because as Ryan spoke to it and it’s underlying for me as well. I know, even as we’ve spoke and had these conversations, I think deconstruction of what we understood as the norm or the paradigm is a part of this.

If any of us would have stepped out at the wrong time from doing exactly the paradigm we had been educated in, it would have been just a rebellion if you will. Yet it was a journey for all of us, to embrace a larger kingdom imagination where we are not just going, “This is right, and this is wrong.”

Or, let me show you a new way and throw away everything from the past. This is in trying to embrace that God doesn’t just work on Sunday mornings and through a pulpit and maybe some of our bigger and our best communication mediums isn’t are not standing behind a wooden box on a Sunday morning. U

Unless we start to embrace that… I think we have a very limited message as far as verbally being communicated to communities and to people… that maybe no longer go to church.

Josiah: In 2020 when I was still a lead pastor in a traditional context, we just found a lot of Goodwill in the community. On one hand, I was getting a lot of critique from within the church about how I wasn’t fulfilling my role as pastor, but on the other hand, the community named that church, like the best church in town for 2020, because of how we were just trying to actually embody this kingdom mindset, embody the gospel.

Just the year before that, in 2019, I still had people saying, “oh, that church is still open? That church still exists?” but then suddenly in 2020, like, “Oh yeah, that church exists and we love it!” So that’s what drew me to what I’m doing now. That’s where the vocation stands. Now, I see myself sort of trying to be in between the normal church world and the rest of the community and the business world, because we have this really bad habit of siloing up in churches not working well with other community entities.

So I sit in and talk with the rotary club or these other, you know, newer versions of that. I sit in with the city council, I get to meet with other businesses, other community members, and never before… This is the irony… never before have I so quickly met most of the people in town.

It took me years as a pastor to actually meet people. It was because of some of the expectations and some of the assumptions about what I was doing. As just a non-profit, as a person trying to do good in the community, I’ve never had more doors open to just be a part of a community and to sit at tables and lend to the conversation.

It’s very meaningful. It fits right. There’s flexibility in it. There’s not this weekly expectation of 20 hours of prep for a sermon.


Josiah (Narration): If it wasn’t clear, we all do very different things within this pastoral vocation. For years, Brian has been pioneering new ways to use church facilities and urban centers. His neighborhood is better for it, and we celebrate the faithfulness of his ministry there. But that doesn’t mean this is the only way we should do ministry in the future.

Ryan adds to the richness of this diverse praxis with his wonderful ability to write. He is also a benefit to those around him due to his immense wisdom and experience he has in growing food that’s good for the body and the soul. While his offerings of hospitality to his neighbors may share similarities with Brian, the beauty of what they offer lies in their nuanced differences.

They both add something to the table that makes the meal better, or maybe a better metaphor would be the hospital. Imagine if you will sitting in a hospital room wondering who you’re going to see next, depending on why you’re there. You could expect to see a doctor and a nurse and maybe a half a dozen other medical professionals, whether it’s because you need an x-ray or you need to see a respiratory therapist or a nutritionist. Regardless, there is a multitude of highly specialized medical professionals, all focused on one thing…

Helping you get better.

What if we applied this same diverse celebration and collaboration within churches? Imagine what ministry could look like if we joined together and celebrated all the diverse gifts God has given each and every one of us for us? This is what guerrilla ministry is all about.

Would you join us as we continue to explore what Guerrilla Pastoring is all about? Would you journey with us as we continue to ask tough questions, seeking humbly to do God’s will on earth as it is in heaven. Join us as we further explore what it is to have a broad kingdom imagination, as we endeavor to be known by a benevolent orthodoxy while celebrating a diverse practice. This is the Guerrilla Pastors podcast.

Thank you so much for listening and stay tuned for our next episode.


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