Confessions of St. Wannabe
Stories of one man's futile efforts to abolish imperfection, live the dream
and walk on water. He thought Jesus said 'Come'. What he said is 'Umm'.
Introduction to ‘Confessions’:
I wrote an anonymous humor column for a minister's newsletter in the 90’s. Read by pastors of small rural churches. Like myself. I called it ‘The Confessions of St. Percival’.
Fictional diary entries by Pastor Percy. Carefully typed and kept in a shoe-box. Til now.
Percy was quite content until his trip to the city. Now he thinks he’s called by God to build his tiny flock into the next megachurch. FYI: He’s not. And here’s why I say that.
#1. Because I'm slow to believe anyone who starts sentences with “God told me … “.
#2. Because God told me He never said any such thing. Since I made Percy in my own image, I believe Him. We both have a gift for making churches smaller. Not visa-versa.
#3. One more reason I don’t buy it. His tiny flock lives in a tiny town 100 miles from the nearest big city. Which has fewer people than the smallest church in Idaho. Only if he counts actual sheep can he reach his goal of 1000. Of which only 43 can tithe or vote.
So what’s behind Percy’s vision if it isn’t God? #1. Percy has a fragile ego. In fact, it’s been on life support for 20 years. Except on Christmas and Easter. #2. His life motto is ‘Go big or Go home!’ Any guess where he is now? Bingo. And guess where home is?
Smallsville, USA. If you can't revive a dream, revise it. His new motto? ‘There’s no place like home! Why go big if you can go home ... and renovate! But when you do, go big!”
Rules for going big. #1 Don’t make stupid mistakes. #2 But if you do, learn from it. So far he's batting zero. So he added two: #3 ‘Measure twice. Cut once’. #4 If you still mess up, buy a new tape measure. Due to a setback, he cut #5: ‘Avoid setbacks’.
Oh. One more tidbit. Percy has ADHD. Easily distracted. Forgets everything. Loses
everything. Can’t stay organized. Both a blessing and a curse. What’s the blessing? No one knows. Except Percy. And he only sees it after the fact. He claims his ADHD is his greatest asset and has 3 reasons why. But don’t ask what they are. He can’t remember.
So who is ‘St. Wannabe’? Me. Percy. All of us. We all ‘wear Saul’s armor’ at times. We try to be someone we’re not or take on roles we aren’t called to or that don’t fit us. It just adds to our stress. But what a relief to let go of unrealistic expectations and just be who God made us to be. In whatever place He puts us. Even if it's ‘Smallsville, USA’.
Another way to spell relief is comic relief. Which we all need. Laughter helps heal the soul. I laughed a lot as I wrote 'St. Percival'. It relieved my stress and lifted my spirits. It also helped me not take myself or 'my ministry' so seriously. A lesson I need again.
So let’s join Pastor Percy as he goes where no small town pastor has ever gone before.
And probably shouldn’t.
If he knows what's good for him.
The Idea of the Century
Every once in a while a subject comes up in our church council meeting that turns wise mature men of God into overly zealous self-appointed ‘experts’ who believe they have stumbled onto the church growth idea of the century. Such an idea came up in last week’s council meeting. The verdict is still out. I'll let you be the judge. The minutes will fill you in.
Fred: Pete, how can you call that idea original? Every other church on earth is on TV!
Pete: Sure, but they're all the same. 2 songs +18 ads + 30 minute sermon = 1 boring hour.
Percy: What else did you have in mind?
Pete: Ever watch a late night talk show? The host comes out, cracks a few jokes to warm up the audience. Or take CNN. We could do interviews with a few experts on your topic. Let’s say you’re preaching about Armageddon next Easter. You could have a big screen drop down over the organ. Artie here could report live from Megiddo. Each of us can trade off reporting live from Israel, Paris, Bahamas, Nashville and all those other places in the Bible.
Artie: How about a roving usher who meanders through the audience with a microphone?
Percy: Which will take two minutes! We have 70 people! And half that when football starts.
Hank: I like it. At key points in your sermon, the camera could break away to the interview.
Percy: Interview? What about the sermon?
Hank: What do you think the interview’s about? Ever seen a political convention speech? While the speaker keeps on talking in the background, the reporter interviews a delegate on what they think about the speech so far? Adds a lot of spice I think. And a little more spice is what you need Percy if you really want to ‘Go Big!’ And maybe a white leisure suit.
Pete: This will help you Percy! Once in a great while, you have a truly profound insight. I don't remember any. But whenever you do, the usher could cue the cameraman and the spotlight guy. That's when our roving usher steps in to say “So tell me Mrs. Poptart. What do you think of Pastor’s point? Did you know God cared so much about pots and pans?"
Percy: Pots? What’s your plan if she wants chapter and verse or likes paper plates? Or what
if our roving usher falls prey to Henrietta Bagby? She'd love nothing more than a moment in the spotlight. And there's nothing I fear more. The last thing she needs is an audience. And the last thing an audience needs is a testimony of how God healed her lama's goiter.
Fred: Loosen up Percy. Pete’s on to something. You say ‘Go Big or Go Home’ and now that we find a way to go big, you start acting like you'd rather stay in Mayberry. With Barney!
Percy: OK. I’ll listen. But we are not pulling the trigger on anything until I talk to my wife!
Hank: You know what that means? The safety’s never coming off this gun and the bullet is staying in Percy's shirt pocket until Jesus comes.back. So is this all we're ever gonna do? Talk big? Perfectly happy if we never actually ‘Go big'? Let's stop talking and walk the talk!
Fred: But to go big, we first gotta talk big. Until we actually believe it. Then we can walk the talk. Besides, we're just brainstorming. We’ll lay out our plans later. You never know. In all our ramblings tonight, we might just stumble on the idea of the century. Any other ideas?
Artie: How about a play-by-play announcer who whispers quietly during the service like they do in golf? “Well folks, a fresh wave of inspiration is floating through the room like a summer breeze". And then when the worship leader leads us in 'Blessed Assurance', I'll remark to Gus “A perfect song choice in this age of rampant terrorism. Don’t you agree?”
Pete: Wait! Gus the auctioneer? He whispers so loud, it wakes me before the sermon ends!
Hank: I think we need a pre-service show like they do when the president speaks. Gus says “So Jim, think Pastor Percy will finish his series on ‘Pots, Pans, Palmolive and You’?” Jim says “I don’t know Gus. It’s easy to bog down after 4 years in Leviticus. But then again he was pretty spunky at men’s breakfast. I think we'll see more of an attacker in the pulpit today.”
Pete: Which is what America needs! Another Billy Sunday! Hey! How about we put a bow on top and wrap this whole thing up in a way viewers can’t forget! After the sermon, I can give a response to the sermon. Like the opposing party does after a presidential speech.
Percy: I'm starting to think you don’t like my sermons Pete. Maybe you should preach and I'll do parking duty! No, Artie! We don't need a second on that. I didn't mean it. Delete it!
So what's the next agenda item? We’ll revisit this topic later. Maybe. So item #2. What can we do with that old cash register in the basement? We really don’t need it. Can we sell it?
Artie: I say put it on the communion table. As a reminder.
Percy: A reminder of what Artie?
Artie: That the offering is right after communion. That'll give them time to write checks.
Hank: That cash register is an antique. I could sell it and start a fund for a TV camera.
Fred: Put it in the foyer. The ladies can use it for the bake sale. Fundraiser for TV air time.
Percy: Not on my watch! A bake sale in the foyer will start WW3. I say we call it a night.
Pete: Agree. Gotta get home. Wolf Blitzer is gonna ride an ostrich on the late show.
Percy: But I thought your wife said you always watch ‘Revival Hour’ Sunday nights at ten.
Pete: Me? Watch a TV preacher? Who does that? I get all the preaching I need right here.
Artie: Now that's something we can all agree on for once. In fact, I think I'd watch the shopping channel on New Year’s Day before I'd ever watch a TV preacher in my free time.
Hank: Hey! I love the shopping channel! Where do you think we got the cash register?
So went the meeting and with it, the idea of the century. My wife couldn't be happier.