PASTOR AT LARGE
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PASTOR TO THOSE WHO HAVE NO PASTOR
If Jesus were here today, where would he hang out? It seems one of the places Jesus would go is where local people congregate to have a drink and share life together.
The stats show that in the county I live in (Marin County) 2% of the population go to church. It is very much a post-Christian culture. In many cases, it is even a pre-Christian culture. Many people I meet here have only been in a church building for a wedding or a funeral. I believe we live in a time where we should not expect non-Christians to come to us, we are called to go to them.
I regularly meet with a group of atheists, agnostics and those who say they are spiritual but not Christian at a local tap room. I have had the opportunity to develop deep and lasting relationships with these folks. They look forward to hanging out with me and I look forward to hanging out with them. I have become a pastor at the local pub. Those who may never step foot in a church building are engaging in spiritual conversations with me. When I hear the perspective of God they have heard about or that they think of, I often find myself saying, “I don’t believe in that god either.” It is my deep prayer that they see a different kind of Jesus in me than the ideas that have been formed in their minds.
One of my atheist friends refers to me as Prophet Matt. Another atheist refers to me as his favorite Christian and his favorite pastor. It is an honor to have the opportunity to be a pastor to those outside the church.
The number of millennials who are leaving the church is astonishing. Most have grown disenfranchised with the church. The reasons are all over the map from being hurt by the church to no longer being able to hold to the same kind of belief structure they were raised with to not being fed in a way that truly nourishes their spiritual development. God has given me to opportunity to meet regularly with a group of young people who have left the church. We talk about God, their hurts and heartache, faith, hope and love. God has given me a voice in their lives, a voice that speaks of a new way forward in their faith journey, one that invites them more deeply into the expansive love of God. I’m grateful.