Who Are The Good Guys?

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75 Responses

  1. Xenia says:

    For me, it’s not just Father G but his whole family that keeps me enthusiastic about living life as a Christian in this wicked world. He and his wife have six adult children who adore their parents, 20 grandchildren under age ten who adore their grandparents, they are hospitable and open their humble home to the entire parish every Easter and Christmas, I have never heard them say an unkind word to anyone, they drive humble cars (Versas), they are both able to make things with their hands (word working, baking, and more) they are quiet and not flashy, they have a few character quirks that prevents them from being perfect (but even more lovable), they are not sanctimonious, they are not judgmental, they do the best with what they have, and I love them and their whole enormous family dearly. They are a good example of hard work and humility to the entire parish.

  2. Xenia says:

    “wood working.”

  3. Xenia says:

    Notice I did not mention “powerful preaching.” That doesn’t matter much to me. I prefer to see how people live their lives when they don’t think anyone is watching.

  4. Michael says:


    That is a great testimony…I hope we hear more of them.

  5. dswoager says:

    My wife jokes that our early relationship is the text book example of how not to evangelize. Many are the nights that we grabbed a case of beer, and got into drunken philosophical debates about Christianity. She was raised Catholic, and I… well I hadn’t given a lot of thought to those sorts of things, but I certainly didn’t believe that stuff. Turns out, those arguments actually got me thinking about those things, and as I was more seriously considering the things of God, a friend SAS struggling with cancer that was also solidifying his atheism. I’m pretty sure sure as a stab at dumb Christians he let me borrow his copy of Stephen Prothero’s Religious Literacy. It served to at least convince me that I wanted to be informed, so I finally picked up the Bible that had been sitting on my shelf for a decade, and read it… the rest is history (very very obscure history).

    Today, I have two men that I meet with weekly who are insanely encouraging and knowledgeable, an absolute blessing.

  6. AA says:

    Nice subject to consider, one man Chris prayed for my soul for a decade. He was that gentle whitness who was there when I was ready. Dale listened to me, so patient with my worldly mess. Gave me a bible & resources to me when I needed mentoring. Collin guided me in prayer to accept Jesus. Three godly men to whom I am forever indebted. I was thinking of Dale just yesterday.

  7. JoelG says:

    You are blessed Xenia. Beautiful.

    Having grown up in larger evangelical churches the Pastor is someone you see for an hour a week up on the stage. I received the Word and I’m thankful for that. My folks introduced me to Christ as a kid and have always been there. It’s been internet Pastors like Michael Spencer, Chaplain Mike at Imonk and a fellow named Michael Newnham that have helped sustain my shaky faith amidst a conservative evangelical culture of good Christians. Shout out to MLD and Jean who have helped me find a resting place in a Lutheran church.

  8. JoelG says:

    Can’t forget my wife, which I did. I’d have given up long ago with out her. Thank you Lord.

  9. EricL says:

    The first church I attended, at the are of 18, was a growing Southern Baptist church in California. They said that Pastor Cliff would hug a telephone pole (his arms were wide and he loved hugging folks). In spite of a congregation of hundreds, he tried to get to everyone each Sunday, with a hug or a handshake, a smile and a few words.

    He remembered you. Even if he forgot your name at that moment, he knew who you were and remembered specific details of your life. I still strive to reach his level of hospitality and genuine care.

    Another who impacted me was an elderly lady named Joey. She was faithful in her walk, in spite of a second husband who didn’t believe. When Ray finally did come to the Lord (boldly so in those final years of his life), she was accepting of his rough-edged faith, rejoicing that her husband had come to Jesus. Nothing special about Joey, but I learned about trust and joy from her. You don’t a pulpit to have an impact on others.

  10. Xenia says:

    This is a good thread. 🙂

  11. Lutheran says:

    The pastor at my Lutheran church for over 10 years. Now retired.

    John Stott. I had the privilege of meeting him. A godly, humble and wise man.

    An Assemblies of God college pastor who ran a Christian bookstore on campus. I hung out there a lot and imbibed a lot of good spiritual wisdom from him. He didn’t seem to mind.

  12. Em again says:

    this is long – i apologize
    i owe my introduction to Jesus as Savior, God and worthy to be outside the walls of any church… well, i accepted Christ by coming forward within the walls of a church, but the one presenting Him and the invitation to accept Him was not an ordained minister, but an old time gospel radio personality… no tricks, just God’s timing…
    while “walking the aisle” has no magic, no one should not denigrate that invitation simply because so many play it
    “with every eye closed and every head bowed” should close every service in my view – take five quiet minutes to consider Him… a holy, sacred moment
    I doubt that the average Evangelical pastor knows this… the others are all methodized, i guess – dunno
    As a pew sitter (i was a S.S. teacher until we joined the S.B.C. and then not holy enough for that responsibility. Okay to work in the church nursery, tho)… As a pew sitter, i noticed in the churches we attended over the years something odd about church people… They rise from the pews after Sunday services and you know that they’re thinking, “well, that’s done; what’s for lunch?” I say that because have you ever tried to engage in a conversation about the teaching/sermon just completed as you leave the building? Oh, it’s okay to say that Pastor so and so was off his game or brilliant this morning, but don’t try to ask a question about the content of the message. The look you’ll get in response sends the message, “That’s way above your pay grade.” or ” Who do you think you are to talk about such things?” Unless you’re not saved or they don’t think you are, then the pious among us will try to win you to Christ.
    The Church is anemic, weak from lack of knowledge… we should see God. We should come to be taught the deeper things, but that sort of teaching might thin the ranks, – too risky… so, after an hour or so, we are dismissed with the idea that we will “go home read our Bibles, pray and be blessed…”
    I thank God for having always placed in my life one or two people on the ground in whom i could see Christ and with whom i could converse about Him, but i would be shallow and floundering – living on past moments of His felt presence if it had not been for R.B. Thieme – even if was “don’t chat with your neighbor, sit down, shut up, listen and learn.” I needed facts and cohesion and this was where i became rooted and grounded…

  13. Em again says:

    yes, i agree this is a good thread and i forgot the man who probably prayed me into the Kingdom… my grandfather was a serious, devout man of prayer and his family had a serious prayer cover… even though i grew up in my grandparents’ home, i didn’t “like” God… grandpa just prayed and waited…

  14. dswoager says:

    Em, those people who were up for that conversation (five in particular come to mind) slot in wonderfully as the good guys between the beginning and current of what I wrote above. Sure, every one of those guys got me in trouble with my wife at some point (as hour long conversations in the parking lot after Bible study will do), but those interactions strengthened me more than any preaching I can think of.

    One other person I don’t want to leave out. The pastor of the church plant that I was involved and I didn’t part in the best of terms (we’ve touched base at least enough to admit to each other that we could have done better), but he really did take the time to invest in me, and gave me some pretty awesome opportunities that I likely wouldn’t have gotten from others.

  15. Mr Jesperson says:

    My stories are not quite as positive as the rest of these others. My mother led me in a sinners prayer as a small child. I love my mother but she has had multiple mental breakdowns in her life. When her mother died she had her last one, which has proven permanent. She is now very frail in a nursing home and almost never says a word. She is perhaps an example of a broken hero.

  16. Laura Scott says:

    A very brave woman named Sandra told me what I needed before I ever knew I needed it. When she found out that I was getting divorced and becoming bitter, she told me I needed to come to church and for many weeks afterward, made sure I kept going. She was with me the night I gave Jesus my life. Soon after, she faded from my life as others came alongside me to help me grow.

    Today, I have to say that one of the folks who keeps the flame bright for me is our very own Dread. His relentless pursuit of the heart and mind of God is a tremendous blessing to me every week. He has not ever told me my ambitions to serve, to teach, and to preach are not to be tolerated. Rather, he affirms and helps those who want to. And when necessary, he’ll get in there and sort us out so we can experience more grace. He’s a good pastor.

  17. Mr Jesperson says:

    Other heroes? The first man I really talked in depth with about the faith was John, the leader of the church high school group. He was quite helpful. John and his wife loved missions and spoke Spanish as a second language. They left the church to become missionaries. They thought they would end up south of the border, but the organization sent them to the UK. They eventually returned permanently from missions with their 5 kids. Speaking of my grandmothers death, the day of the funeral, John was there with his guitar. He had to leave early with a call from his wife. His first born–John Junior–was tripping out on PCP and was threatening his mothers life. She called the cops. He was 15 and went to the youth prison. Years later I friended him and some of his children on Facebook. One day one of his daughters made a post about how rotten and mean her father was for everyone to see. She was dead serious and quite angry. I have no idea what really happened behind closed doors. Perhaps my old hero is both hero and villain at the same time. He certainly is not qualified for leadership according to the Apostle Paul, but he helped me at one time.

  18. JoelG says:

    Bless her heart, Mr. Jesperson. May the Lord bless her and keep her until she’s home with her Master.

  19. Chris Long says:

    EricL @ 9: I have to ask: Is that church in Yorba Linda?

  20. Mr Jesperson says:

    By now you probably know where my next story is headed. A great early influence in my life was the leader of the singles group: Gary. He is a gifted teacher and has a leaders personality. He climbed the ladder at work and retired at the highest position the internal politics would allow. My friendship started when he invited me to a party for his roommate who was engaged. They both worked together and both climbed the ladder together. Soon both men were married. I loved Gary and his wife. We had a positive 10 years together. They eventually took me in after college, when my drunken father threw me out of the house. For that I was very grateful. He was a role model that I esteemed so highly it began to compromise my personal relationship with Jesus.
    Gary had a home fellowship group I attended that included his old roommate and his wife. Their relationship fell apart and divorce papers were filed. Before the ink was dry, Gary was involved in an affair with the wife. This caused his own first marriage to soon fall apart as well. His second wife was violent. Spousal abuse ended that marriage. Then he became a Vineyard pastor when that church’s pastor left suddenly. Gary can teach the Bible quite well, so he was drafted in as a temporary pastor. He ended up staying in that role as that church shrank and eventually became a house church, and then eventually died.
    I have reconciled with my old friend and hold no bitterness. His first wife I miss, have not seen her in over 20 years. She was like a sister to me that I never had. I could tell more stories like this. My take, the only guy with the white hat is Jesus. Sometimes we love each other and help others but I see that as the power and grace of God at work in our life. This other scandalous stuff is what comes naturally to us. Apart from Jesus, we all wear black hats. The problem is not just those bad, male, greedy mega-church leaders. The problem is only as far away as the mirror. I hope I have helped some people before I die, but I am deluding myself if I try to take any credit for that.

  21. Chris Long says:

    Mr Jesperson: Your “The problem is not just those bad, male, greedy mega-church leaders. The problem is only as far away as the mirror.” line is pure gold.

    I was just thinking the other day how easy it is for us to point the finger – we’re always wanting to do that and call out others. But if I actually stop to consider my own failings, all of a sudden it becomes a lot harder to do that.

    The truth is that Jesus uses broken people. Some are just more broken than others. I do believe that pastors and leaders are called to a high standard and I do believe that while not being perfect, there is a way that they are to conduct themselves. At the same time, I recognize that even the best have a lot of temptation thrown at them in our culture today and I recognize that it can be easy to give in. It doesn’t make it right if they do, and for a pastor/leader, it can mean loads of terrible collateral damage, but it does at least give me a smidgen of pause before I go railing against them with full guns blazing.

  22. EricL says:

    Chris @19, the church was in Beaumont, CA. It’s still there, but very different now. The next pastor was a huge fan of John MacArthur and turned it that direction.

    Pastor Cliff went on to church plant in British Columbia, before returning to SoCal. I think he ended up the Diamond Bar/ Walnut area, which isn’t too far from Yorba Linda.

  23. Chris Long says:

    EricL – thanks for that. Must not be the same Pastor Cliff then as the one in YL’s been there since the 1980’s I think.

  24. dswoager says:

    I honestly think that one of the takeaways that we can get from these stories is that though we are not “heroes”, it often takes a whole lot less to be heroic than we might think. Much of what we were as the strong positive influences in our walk really come down to people who valued us and cared for us. Our impulse toward villainy is good to keep in mind, so that we don’t jump so quickly to condemn others, but moment to moment, from one relationship to the next we are given new opportunities to be heroic every day.

  25. Em again says:

    white hats and black hats seem to be worn by most of us interchangeably?

    agreeing with Mr. Jesperson: “the only guy with the white hat is Jesus.” …
    be grateful for those who help us, but the focus is always Christ … we should celebrate what we learn of Him and not who we learn it through, perhaps?

    more and more i believe that we must simply learn/grow to stand in the Faith… there will always be someone who needs something to hold onto that isn’t wobbly

    #24 = good ponder… IMHO

  26. Francisco says:

    Good post Michael. Regretfully it is true that we all too often hear reports of Christian leaders acting badly so it’s good to see an encouraging post like this today.

    Back in 2001 my barber started sharing Jesus with me. He wasn’t pushy nor judgmental and he certainly lived what he preached. He was a living testimony and a servant of Jesus and that was what drew me to listen to the gospel message. My friend is now with Jesus but God used him to bring me to Christ. I know that I will see him again.

    In terms of being sustained in the faith, I am grateful for the men and relationships Christ has put in my life to encourage me in the ministry whether locally, and elsewhere. I must also admit your ministry has both challenged and blessed as well.

    Finally though there may be some brethren who may not necessary agree with the way Christ is using you, I cannot deny the fact that He is using you, and may He continue to use you and your ministry for His glory.

  27. Homer Walker led me in it and Michael Newnham helps me get though it.

  28. Jean says:

    Great thread. Thank you to everyone for your testimonies.

  29. Xenia says:

    In my case, I grew up in a Baptist household so I always knew the basics of the Gospel message from a very early age. At age 12, I “walked forward” and was baptized a few weeks later. I must say that this was a rather underwhelming experience. We were big on getting all the details of our complicated theology precisely correct and not so big on living life sacrificially for our neighbor. What I needed was some good examples and I didn’t have any. I do now, and I am very thankful.

  30. Erunner says:

    I grew up in a godless home. There was a reformed family across the street who would take me to church with them. Looking back I believe that a huge impact on my young life and planted a seed that never left.

    I met my wife and while we were dating her brother would answer my questions about God as best he could. He and his wife took Belinda and I to a Saturday night concert on April 3, 1976 and it was there I came to faith.

    Tom Stipe shared and Erick Nelson and Gentle Faith provided the music. I can’t begin to explain how the atmosphere there blew me out of the water. I had never been around young people who weren’t swearing and who were obviously so happy.

    I went forward at the altar call and my life was transformed immediately.

    Chuck Smith guided me without knowing it with his sound teaching (no rapture talk 🙂 ) It prepared me and ignited me to share my faith with people who still are walking with God.

    Oden Fong became a good friend while we attended Poiema and is always available.

    Coming here I never knew Michael would be one of my biggest influences as he encouraged me and was always available when I needed to talk. I have learned so much here from individuals I won’t name for fear of leaving someone out.

    Meeting people from here was like being with family.

    Chuck Swindoll is teaching me about grace currently and I just began listening to Alistar Begg who is very good.

    We’re in a small church now where everybody knows your name and they have bathed my wife and I in prayer. Our pastor’s father is my friend and he describes our relationship as similar to David and Jonathan.

    In dealing with my agoraphobia and depression these last 20 odd years I isolated myself and found myself with only one true friend. Now I have two.

    It’s amazing how personal God desires to be with us and to know He accepts us warts and all. I desire for His truths to find a place in my heart as I desire all of those who are here and many who have moved on. Thank you.

  31. dswoager says:

    “Coming here I never knew Michael would be one of my biggest influences as he encouraged me and was always available when I needed to talk. I have learned so much here from individuals I won’t name for fear of leaving someone out.”

    I have been impressed with Michael in many ways, but I have had a couple times where I have reached out for some guidance, and was really impressed at his willingness to be there for someone he doesn’t really know. I’ve gotten used to being ignored by people that knew me a lot better, and though they were small things it meant a lot.

    On a lighter note, I considered sharing this topic on Facebook, but thought it might be awkward in the same way you mentioned. 🙂

    This post has been a breath of fresh air. Thanks to Michael, and everyone for sharing.

  32. My story is a bit anonymous because I don’t think I was paying attention. I was one who never gave much thought to religion – wasn’t for it, wasn’t against it. I was Jewish by family.
    In the mid 70s, I was doing a lot of traveling for my company and while I would get ready in the morning I would flip on the hotel TV. I don’t know how but all these little town would have PTL on in the morning. I would watch with one eye getting ready – I think this softened mye up to religion / christianity … but I was really paying attention.

    Towards the late 70s I checked out a book from our corporate library – a Robert Schuller book on Possibility Thinking – and I was facinated how he came out here to the OC which was nothing at the time and over the years built a church from scratch, but I wasn’t paying attention.

    In 1981 when my wife said we had to take the kids to church, because that’s what you did in America, I was like “OK”. So we dropped them off in the SS and went to the church and sat down – I could listen – no harm no foul. Greg Laurie taught and I am sure the Holy Spirit worked. 2 weeks later I was at home and told my wife, I think I am a Christian – and there I went. I have always thought the Holy Spirit tricked me.

    I think the most influential person who changed my theology was a person I didn’t know, don’t know to this day, who in a conversation that could not have lasted more than 2 min just turned me around. He was a bookstore clerk who walked up to me as I was browsing books and he asked “have you ever looked into Reformed theology?” I gave him a blank stare – I was a Christian 10 yrs at this time and never heard the term “reformed theology”. He said “a couple of my friends are starting a radio program – listen to it.” He went to his counter, wrote down some information and handed me a card with the radio information.

    The radio show was the White Horse Inn and although I did not become reformed, the Lutheran on the panel really caught my ear. Now the WHI guys are really influential, but to me that bookstore clerk was the man of the hour – he turned me towards a more theologically intellectual way of thought.

    Today, I am a self starter – I have no one in particular who influences me or keeps me going — except perhaps Jean who gives me a good swift Lutheran kick in the butt every so often. 🙂

    So in a strange way, chalk up Jim & Tammy, Robert Schuller, Greg Laurie and a book store clerk as my influencers.- how is that for a crew?

  33. Xenia says:

    Curiously, White Horse Inn affected my conversion to Orthodoxy. My sister was in the throes of converting to Lutheranism, and was crazy about that program. When I began to listen, they were doing a number on Calvary Chapel. To say I was in the mood to listen was an understatement. They were of the opinion that Calvary Chapel was gnostic. The things they were saying resonated with the things I was also thinking. However, I didn’t really like those WHI guys…. very arrogant, I thought. I was leaving CC but I was not as harsh about them as these WHI know-it-alls. But they did put there finger on some real theological issues. So they nudged me along my way but not their way.

  34. Mark LePard says:

    Monty Sharp and the network of youth pastors in the area I currently live in. I will miss their fellowship dearly and the monthly meetings as I am moving to North Carolina to start a new work there. The new vision is similar to the most awesome example of unity in the body I have ever seen, which is in our valley. We disagree on minor theological issues, but we choose to be united for the sake of the gospel and the ministry to students in our churches and school campuses.

  35. Josh the Baptist says:

    My Grandfather. Clyde O. Hamrick. WWII hero. Pastored a small baptist church for a long time. He died when I was about 5, but I still have vivid memories of him. Through my life, when I’d see Christians acting in all sorts of crazy ways, I’d think back; “What would PawPaw do?”. He was the example for me, by which all others are still measured. Oh, I miss him.

    Jim Toole was a young different kind of pastor that I met when I first started going to church, after salvation at 19. He came and played basketball with me and didn’t freak out when I let cuss words slip. He was terribly flawed, but a humble, sincere guy. If it weren’t for him being willing to play ball with a punk teenager, I wouldn’t be here today.

    Mickey Heyward was the epitomy of an old country pastor. After my grandad died, and my grandmother was aging alone, Mickey visited her regularly for the next 20+ years. He brought her groceries in, went to the hospital when she was sick…he was always there. His selfless service to a poor old sick woman opened my eyes to the reality of Christ.

    Steve Waters is my pastor now. He’s the most patient, humble man I’ve ever met. A true servant. I’ve learned more from watching him for the last 6 years than I’ll ever learn in seminary.

  36. Josh the Baptist says:

    Mark – What part or NC you moving to?

  37. j2theperson says:

    I don’t know that there’s any *person* particularly responsible for me becoming a Christian or remaining a Christian. I pretty much grew up in Calvary Chapel, and my parents sent me to a non-denominational evangelical christian school. I became a Christian when I was in Kindergarten. Early in the year the teacher asked us who in the class was a christian and everybody raised their hands but me. My friend nudged me and said, “You can raise your hand. You’re a christian too.” But I refused to raise my hand because I knew I had never prayed a prayer or asked Jesus into my heart. Later in the school year the teacher did an altar call which, in retrospect, was pretty coercive because she knew I was the only non-christian in the class so it must have been all directed toward me. And I did say the prayer then because I felt like I was supposed to. Then I spent the rest of my childhood doubting my saved status because I hadn’t prayed the prayer out of my own free will but out of coercion.

    My experience at the christian school and in the evangelical world in general was pretty terrible, also, and I believe that a big reason why I remained a christian was because I was baptized as an infant during the brief period my parents attended an Episcopal church. It gave me something to look back to and hold onto that was completely separate from my evangelical experience–a time when God and the church accepted me without me having to do anything.

    So, I’m still a christian even if I still pretty much suck at it and have all the same spiritual anxieties and weaknesses that I had when I was 6 years old.

  38. Scott says:

    J2, you’ve got plenty of company, most of us suck at being good christians.

  39. dle says:

    I’m going to throw a wrench here, but I’m not doing this to be contrary. Still, maybe there’s a truth here…

    I gave up my business to take a job working for a friend at a well-known international company. In no time, I realized what looked like God opening a door soon turned into the realization that this was not going to go well.

    Some days, I left just crushed by the frenetic pace and the craziness. I started to doubt my worth as a worker, husband, father, and Christian. I knew the Gospel. But all I faced daily was the message that I was not good enough.

    Then I found Liberate Radio. Yes, Tullian Tchividjian. That relentless message of grace gave me the hope to push on. I listened to everything Liberate had. Those podcasts got me through the day. I needed to hear how much Jesus loved me despite my failings. Tchividjian may have helped save my life.

    Of course, I was devastated by his fall. It’s difficult not to be hardened by it. But, for that dark place that I was in before then, he and his show got me through.

    Sometimes, you never know what broken person God is going use. It’s made me rethink a few things about life and the people God uses.

  40. brian says:

    One of my favorite even now is Father Henri Nouwen and Rich Mullins really touched my soul and rejuvenated me on many occasions.

  41. Paige says:

    Wonderful testimonies, everyone.

    Like Erunner, I was saved at a Jesus People concert too…. July 12, 1971 with Lonnie Frisbee preaching. The Holy Spirit instantly changed my life…. Over the years, many pastors, mostly CC guys, have guided my path, even ones who have made tragically poor choices…. including my ex husband, the late Andy Green. He was a gifted man who had great faith in a great God… Somehow he got off the path and during the turmoil years of my life, several Calvary Chapel pastors encouraged me, notably, Rob Verdeyne.. Here on the Phx Preacher for the last 8 years, Michael has been a great source of encouragement and inspiration. Thank you my friend.

  42. Em again says:

    dle reminds me again that God’s truth isn’t dependent on the messenger – further, over time i’ve become pretty much convinced that, if your words (or actions) are impacting those around you for Christ, Satan is going to be right on your tale..
    most of my life i think i’ve lived theoretical Faith, but from this end of the trail looking back down (and up) it looks to me like Paul knew what he was saying, “for me to live is Christ…”

  43. Em again says:

    i, too, got to hear some of Tullian’s material on grace last year and thought it was spot on…

  44. Nonnie says:

    I can remember my paternal great grandmother kneeling down with me beside the huge bed in their home and praying with me each night, when I was a very young child. My mother told me my grandmother prayed relentlessly for all her children and grandchildren. My mother came to faith when I was in my early 20’s and she then took the banner of my grandmother and prayed for all of us. For 5 years she “hounded us” with letters and phone calls about our need for Jesus. Of course we mocked her and avoided her. During that time the Lord brought several people into our lives….Jesus Freaks…they looked like us, but instead of getting high on pot, like us, they were talking about the peace of Christ. Our 15 year old neighbor that sold us drugs, suddenly got saved and between her relentless witness of the love of Christ and my mother’s continue prayers and love…..God’s love broke through. It was only afterwards, when we started attending a small CC that several of our neighbors went to, that we found out that every Sat. night for the past year, that church had been praying for us. Chuck Smith Jr. was our first pastor and I am so thankful the the input he had in our lives.

  45. Josh the Baptist says:

    Man, I love reading all these. Thank you all so much.

  46. Disillusioned says:

    My parents loved Jesus enough to break through the religiosity of their lives to a genuine relationship with Him, which was my first and best witness.
    Rich Mullins touched my heart in the 90s in a way that opened it to God’s real presence.
    Now I find myself looking to God alone for any real truth about living as a Christian, since we all suck so badly at it.

  47. Cash says:

    Fascinating and uplifting discussion. Interestingly, one person who led me to Christ later became the fallen pastor. It’s important to note that some of these men and women reflect the fact that we as Christians are 100% sinners and 100% saints simultaneously. So while I reflect on the fact that this man fell much later in my life, I can still see him as a godly man who loved Jesus and showed me how to love Jesus.
    I also would mention Michael here who has always been accepting and kind to me and was there for me when I went through a very traumatic experience in a church. He’s truly one of the good guys.

  48. Janet Guerra says:

    Bob Grenier is a hypocritical mess! Take a look at the dwindling church. If he cared about the church he would leave. He has hurt more people and never looks within.

  49. Janet Guerra says:

    Extremely cultivate behaviors and thoughts!

  50. Janet Guerra says:

    Cult like

  51. Michael says:

    Article titles mean nothing…

  52. Alan says:

    Question for Xenia, or I guess, for anyone else here as well.

    If you called up your priest and asked to meet for coffee (for the reason of, let’s call it spiritual counseling or guidance), I’m assuming he’d do that. But how often would he be willing to do that? Once a month? Once a year? Or, in your case Xenia, is this what happens during confession?

    The reason I ask is because I currently attend a mega church. I don’t want to be there, but things are complicated when you have family situations. So obviously I never get one on one time with clergy. That’s not how the program works at the megas. My perception is that one of the benefits of being in a small church is one on one time with clergy. But, I’m wondering if this is reality, or just my perception. Thanks.

  53. Michael says:


    Depends on the size of the church, but it should be relatively easy to see someone…most of the guys I know are easily available for appointments.

    I’m not sure what the value of meeting with clergy is, but it should be simple to do.

  54. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    My pastor will meet with anyone who buys lunch. 😉

  55. Jean says:

    One of my attractions to a small church is to have a pastoral relationship with my pastor.

  56. Alan says:

    Michael, I’m a bit surprised by your statement “I’m not sure what the value of meeting with clergy is.”

    I guess I’m old fashioned and, unlike Andy Stanley, I still believe in the idea of a shepherd and his flock. As this great thread has shown, we all need people in our lives. We need wise counsel from others. I don’t believe that I have all of the answers. That’s why I like the idea of meeting with my pastor. That’s why I’ve like meeting with pastors in former lives of mine.

    MLD….LOL. Hey, I’d rather it worked that way though than coming out of the church budget.

    Thanks Jean. Simple comment you had, but containing great truth.

  57. Francisco Nunez says:

    It is important not to confuse a “platform ministry” with that of a pastoral ministry as they are not one and the same. The biblical definition of a pastor a “shepherd” is defined by two things, a relational and a functional role. A shepherd knows the members of his flock and they know him. A shepherd also carries out pastoral functions such as discipling, caring, teaching, correcting, and protecting.

    Unfortunately many of today’s mega church models are highly dependent on the “platform ministry” not the biblical pastoral model as Christ intended. Many of today’s Mega Church leaders may be great stand up comedians, motivational speakers, celebrities, or even best selling authors, but the reality is that they are not carrying out the relational and functional roles that define who a pastor is according to John 10:11-15

    Ultimately mega churches must have small life groups of people connecting or they will fail.The true pastors are essentially the small group leaders.

  58. Jean says:

    Very well said Mr. Nunez!

  59. Michael says:

    To be blunt, I wouldn’t walk across the street for advise from many pastors.

    I know a lot about the Bible, cats, and L.A. Kings hockey…on other topics I’ll probably refer you elsewhere…

  60. Alan says:

    Francisco, of course you are spot on. If you attend a mega and have questions, you’ll be directed to your small group leader. Sigh. The typical small group leader has zero theological training, doesn’t know anything more about life than I do, and is simply there to be a cheerleader for the mega church.

    One final technical point, less I be accused of making a factually incorrect statement. If I called my mega and asked to meet with a pastor, sure, they would likely grant that. But, a one time meeting is far, far different from having an ongoing relationship.

  61. Michael says:

    Yes, very good, Francisco…

  62. Alan says:

    Thanks for the response Michael. Part of the reason I love your site is due to your candor.

    I too know a lot about the Bible. But, I also know that I have blind spots and that Christianity was never meant to be an individual sport. In thinking about wanting to be at a small church, if I didn’t think I could get good counsel / advice from the pastor, then I wouldn’t attend his church.

  63. Michael says:


    Frankly, I’m not a fan of this type of thinking.

    Christianity is a team sport, but there are few Peyton Mannings.

    Most pastors have a grip on theology, but expecting them to be the fount of all wisdom is folly.

    The team sport aspect is important…on almost very subject I can think of, there is someone in the congregation with more wisdom than I have.

    You only find that out by knowing each other…and sometimes the pastor can facilitate that.

    I decided a long time ago that I wouldn’t set the impossible expectation of wisdom on myself…

  64. Xenia says:

    Hi Alan, we have a small parish, maybe 50 people on a Sunday morning. Fr. G knows everyone very well and has been in all our houses at least once for various reasons. He and my husband are golf buddies and I am the godmother of one of his grandchildren. He treats us all like members of his family.

    If I have an easy question, I ask him during confession, which I go to several times a month. If it’s more complicated, I call him up. If here’s there, he’ll talk to me for as long as it takes. He’s also eating with us all at the after-Liturgy potluck and I can talk to him then but I prefer to let him eat in peace. I get the occasional text msg from him, like “Xenia, please don’t forget to bake the bread for the bishop’s visit!” He doesn’t do email at all, his wife handles all messages that come via the computer. She is a Matushka, “little mother,” and has a semi-official role in an Orthodox church. She is a very smart lady and a good friend and I often go to her first for some questions.

    My priest gives very good advice, I think. If I am upset about something, he calms me down. I find a huge value in being able to run things by him. Oh, and he prays for me regularly and if I am sick or go on a trip, he prays for me. When I go up for Communion he says “Servant of God Xenia receives the Body and Blood…..” He knows all our names and when we last went to confession. He really is a shepherd but he’s not at all intrusive.

    But I don’t idolize him at all. He does what is expected of an Orthodox priest of a small parish. He does it with tenderness and grace. But I have found this to be true at every EO church I have been a part of.

  65. Lutheran says:

    When my family became Lutheran, our pastor spent a whole year meeting with us weekly about the Bible and what Lutherans believe, teach and confess. Because of summer and this and that, we probably met 6-7 months each week.

    Jean, we go to a small Lutheran church. I’ve been enriched beyond measure by getting to know our pastor. I’m betting you will, too.

    I do think it’s important not to expect everything from a pastor. We’re all in this together. I found, from befriending this pastor, that the ministry is extremely practical!

    Whether a pastor would meet with you regularly depends on a number of things. Most pastors I know are extremely busy and if you had an objective or something specific you want to learn about, that would probably increase your chances of meeting with him.

  66. Alan says:

    Not sure what your point about Manning is, but Denver won last year in spite of Manning.

    Michael, now your making straw men arguments to me….”fount of ALL wisdom”….LOL. Judging by your responses, either you’re not getting what I’m talking about, or I’m not making my point very well. Since I’m not a great communicator, I’ll go with the second.

    I’m not talking about getting advice from the pastor on plumbing or gardening.

    Are you a pastor Michael? Sounds like it but I didn’t know that until now. Now your responses are making more sense to me.

    When people come to believe that they can’t go to their pastor for spiritual advice / counseling, no wonder the church in America is a total disaster.

  67. Xenia says:

    By the way, my priest usually reads a sermon written by someone else from a book. Now and then he speaks from his heart if he has something on his mind. I have probably heard 5,000 sermons in my life and I am no longer impressed by a someone who is considered to be a good Bible teacher. If I never again in my life hear another 3-point sermon with intro and conclusion I will die happy.

  68. Michael says:


    I’ve been pastoring the same folks in the same place for twenty some years.
    I’ve spent thousands of hours with hundreds more people through the blog.
    I spend a lot of time being a sounding board for pastors.
    People like to contact me a lot…and I try to respond according to my own timing and health.

    The fact that I am knowledgable in theology and history doesn’t mean I know how to discipline your child or straighten up your husband, or a whole host of other issues that people go to pastors with.
    I can pray for you and with you, but I don’t have a hotline to God or know someone
    who does.
    My job is to teach from the Scriptures and I’m always in the process of teaching people how to die.
    I can care about you, but I usually can’t fix a thing.
    That’s why I believe in a plurality of elders and love having seasoned Christians in the church…they can often help more than I can.

  69. Alan says:

    Thanks again Michael, After your last comment, I realize that you and I are using the same terms, but we are talking about two separate things. I apologize for taking up your time as a result of my poor communication skills.

    Lutheran, thank you very much for your comments. Sounds like a great experience. You wrote: “I do think it’s important not to expect everything from a pastor.” That’s great advice and I especially needed to read that. I keyed in on the word “everything” in your sentence. It is sad though that some seem to expect nothing from their pastor. Everything and nothing seem to me to be two extremes to be avoided.

    Xenia, thank you, thank you for your comments 64 and 67. I’ve been interested in the EO church for a while now and that’s why I specifically asked for your input on this question.

  70. Michael says:


    No problem, it might be my fault, not yours.

    I will say that the kind of pastor you desire will only be found in small evangelical churches or the liturgical churches.

    I’m big on pointing people to the liturgical churches as there is less chance for trouble, in my opinion.

  71. Just passing by says:

    Who are the good guys?
    Calvary Chapel Appleton Pastors conference is happening this week. OMG the guns are out and they are not shooting from the hip. Who are these pastors? They have gone mad. Anyone here see the “show.” God help us!

  72. Michael says:

    Douville of Appleton is an all time jackass.

    Quintana a prophecy nut.

    Enjoy the show.

  73. Just passing by says:

    Oops sorry Michael I went off topic.
    It was my grandma who lived out Gods word, and you. You have helped so many here and gave many a voice to heal when the church turned a blind eye on abuse. You are loved by many.

  74. Michael says:

    Just passing by,

    Thank you for the kind words.
    I appreciated knowing about the conference, so off topic is approved. 🙂

  75. Babylon's Dread says:

    @!6 Thank you Laura

    I had not seen your post … it is very kind.

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