I like the folks at Catalyst, the church leadership org hosting a conference this week in Atlanta. I did an event with them in California not long ago, I read their blog, I’m impressed by their generous support of Compassion International. I like Catalyst. But Catalyst is missing something. All the major church leadership type conferences are. They’re missing Andy.
Andy is my pastor. There are a lot of Andys
Andy is not cool: He’s not even slightly metrosexual. To Andy, Diesel is an engine not a pair of jeans. He has never worn a faux-hawk. He has never and would never wear a man purse. He doesn’t listen to Wilco or Pedro The Lion. He drives a truck, not a Hummer. His phone is a silver brick running Windows.
Andy is not famous: He doesn’t have a book deal. He doesn’t know Donald Miller. He doesn’t do speaking tours with gigantic whiteboards. (Which is also cool.) This year he won’t be on stage at Willow Creek, or Story, or Catalyst or…
The cool, tech-savvy, famous pastors will. And that’s good. But is it great for Andy?
The average guy in the seats at these events is a lot more like Andy than Stanley. Nothing against Stanley…or Rob, Steven, Craig or Mark. I like these guys – I really really do. But, speaking of Mark, according to him (pg. 29), Andy is more the norm than they are. Mark says that 98% of American churches are made up of less than 800 people, 95% are less than 500 people, 75% are less than 150 people, 50% are less than 75 people.
It’s not just church size Andy doesn’t have in common with these guys. The speaker guys aren’t pastoring a church in semi-rural Tennessee in 2009 during a recession, meeting in a school cafeteria, without video producers, service producers, teaching pastors, sermon writers, a six figure income, a multi-million dollar budget, multiple campuses, and maybe even a helicopter.
With so little in common, how much of what these speakers have to say can Andy really put into practice in his not-cool-not-tech-savvy-not-famous life pastoring a very different kind of church? I don’t know. But here are a few reasonable wants up for discussion:
- I don’t want the Andys of the world to leave a conference loving how God made some speaker guy so much that they stop loving and marveling at and being grateful for how God made them.
- I don’t want the Andys to love some speaker guy’s church so much that they stop loving their own. How many guys have developed ulcers and butchered community by trying to create the church they want to lead out of the church they have been given to lead?
- I want Andy to have the opportunity to learn from both the speaker guys and the other Andies in the world. I want him to learn from people who have the same struggles, methods, successes, budget, staff, and congregation he has.
- I want the speaker guys to learn from each other and Andy. I was talking with a prominent pastor/speaker about my work with Compassion once and he expressed his disinterest in it all by saying, “I’ve never been much of a missions guy.” He outsourced missions to a “missions pastor” and is missing out on the joys and challenges of thinking and living missionally/globally. I’d love that guy to spend a few minutes with Andy.
Catalyst and all the other leadership conferences hosting big-name speakers are doing good work. No doubt. But is it great for Andy?
How can he learn from and be inspired by other pastors ministering in a town and church like his, to people like his neighbors?
How and when do the guys doing all the teaching right now learn from everyone else?
These are questions I know the folks at Catalyst are asking. Have you got answers?