Applying for a Job Part 1: a Heart for Unchurched People

Discovery is currently searching for an Associate Pastor of Preaching and Community.  We posted an ad just over one month ago.  We’ve received 130+ inquiries and 78 full applications. There are a lot of good people looking for exciting ministry opportunities.

Almost every candidate, in some way or other, lists that they have a heart for unchurched people.  But as we look through their materials, only 15% or so seem show that they have time for unchurched people.  (if any past or current candidate is reading this, no I do not have one specific person in mind! I’m addressing an overwhelming trend I’m seeing)

If you have a heart for unchurched people but not a calendar for unchurched people, you don’t have a heart for unchurched people.  

It would never fly to say you have a heart for your spouse or children, but never spend time with them.  Never listen to them, their desires, fears, interests. Never get into what they are into.  Never inconvenience yourself and what you want to do with what they want to do.  But somehow, in church leadership, we think we can do this.  And hey, I totally get it, ministry jobs can put you on a momentum away from unchurched people if you are not careful.  

But reality check time:  there is very little distance between heart and time in today’s world.  Got a heart for someone?  Show me your calendar and I’ll show you your heart.

This is a non negotiable for us at Discovery.  On any given week, between 15 – 30% of our attendance would identify as unchurched.  Three of the many reasons for this:

1) Our people know that if they bring their friends, they will not have to translate or apologize for what their friends experience.  They will be equally welcomed from the lobby to the communion table to the pulpit.

2) All our “upfront” communications assume a courtesy toward an “unchurched” person, albeit intellectual skeptic or reluctant attender.  Our worship leader does this, our announcements are shaped through this lens and so is our sermon.

3) Our preachers spend preparation time wondering how the message would hit a skeptic.  What would their objections be? What about this seems foreign, weird, crazy, stupid?  And we build these objections back into the sermon.

Tim Keller and Erwin McManus are excellent examples of this.

Let this passion for the unchurched escape your heart and find its way onto your calendar. And if it finds its way onto your calendar long enough and if you listen more than you speak. If you come with a posture to learn, more than a posture to convince, If you pay attention to what these people are saying:  their hopes, fears, annoyances, objections to Jesus….

Then this passion will surely find its way into your pulpit.  And then these people will find their way into the church.  And when they hear you preach, they will not so much feel preached to as much as they will feel listened to.   They will not so much leave your sermon saying, “this person is really convincing” as much as they will say, “this person really understands me.”

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