A Needed Pastoral Throw-down

I was a Junior in high school and I’d grown up in this local hometown church. I’d made my way through elementary Sunday school, Jr. High group, and now I’d just about made my way through the Sr. High youth group. I was pretty much over all of it because I was “more mature” than all the other High school kids. I’d learned enough about church culture that I’d become a pretty effective critic and spectator. So one day I pulled my youth pastor, Herb Pedigo, aside and I told him everything that was wrong with our youth group, why I didn’t like participating, and what he needed to do differently to make our group more interesting for “interesting people like myself.” I thought I’d done a good thing telling my youth pastor the truth, because heck aren’t good church people supposed to be good critics and spectators – I mean “speak the truth in love?”

I thank God Herb didn’t weakly swallow my entire immature act without a face to face throw down with me. He pulled me aside in the church parking lot that very day and told me, “Look Andrew. I understand that you don’t like everything that’s going on in the youth group, but you’re either part of the problem or part of the solution. If you’re standing on the sideline as a distant spectator criticizing everyone and everything – you my friend are a part of the problem.” He wasn’t done. He further said, “As you enter your Senior year I’m going to challenge you buddy. Either stay away completely because we don’t need your negativity or throw yourself completely into the youth group and work to make it the kind of group you’d like it to be.”

I walked away fuming! Who was this guy to tell me the things we was telling me? In my immaturity I decided I would go about trying to prove Herb wrong – to prove that our youth group was the lamest youth ministry in California. So for all the wrong reasons I threw myself  into helping out, into leading, planning events, and even teaching a Sunday school lesson here and there. I started with the wrong motives, but the more involved I became the more my heart began to change . My critic/spectator role disappeared and was replaced with a new and much more satisfying cheerleader/participant role. In the end I didn’t prove Herb wrong. In the end I proved him right. At the end of my Senior year, as I went off to college my youth group meant the world to me. I loved them, they loved me, and Herb had taught me an important lesson about life in community with God’s people. You’re either part of the problem or part of the solution. Thanks Herb for being the presence of Christ when I needed it years ago!!

Do any of you have stories to share?

About Andy Lewis

Andy is an author, pastor, and musician who lives in Santa Cruz California. Currently he serves as lead pastor at Faith Community Church in Santa Cruz
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to A Needed Pastoral Throw-down

  1. Abby says:

    Great story Andy!

  2. Reblogged this on Kurt Kammermanns place and commented:
    Macht mich nachdenklich!

  3. rbdz299 says:

    I hope you will get a kick out of this reply (in a good way). And please don’t view the following statement as negativity, because that is not the intent; my intent has simply been to understand how the last few years have been part of God’s plan for me. But I completely understand the idea of being the guy who thinks he’s doing everyone a favor by “critiquing” them.

    Or, the idea of immersing myself for the wrong reasons at the church I was in, Coastlands … but in my case, I was hoping that the pride would be ironed out in the process. Well … it was… just not like I would have hoped. I was ordered to leave because I was unwilling to take instructions, because I knew that I needed healing for a condition, PTSD, that I was not receiving… in part because I feared that I would simply be branded as crazy. I refused to let people fix me with instructions because I wanted to be loved, which is the healing that fixes us. Yet, I acted like the thief because I was unwilling to forgive people that I thought were full of it because of all the things I’ve had to forgive when I knew they were unforgiving. A bit of a spiritual paradox there: I expected mercy when I was unmerciful and, therefore, a liar. Ultimately, I had to accept that I was being crucified, not as Jesus, but as a thief. It was simply a choice of: Am the impenitent thief or the penitent thief?

    The irony was, I do believe that I followed the prompts and confirmations but those were not in line with the church instructions, which can be upsetting to people that blindly submit in hopes of getting what they want. No different than rebellion. I don’t understand why God made me learn the hard way and I probably never will, but I do know that God’s plan is like the stories of Ruth or the Prodigal son–all about comings-and-goings. And since I’m better off today (mentally and spiritually) in my current church than I was before I attended Coastlands, I do believe that while the experience at Coastlands was destructive and disastrous–God had recognized the faith I had in my heart despite the illness that would derail me. Thus, I hope that Coastlands can see: God uses all things for good. No pain, no gain.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.