Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Pastoral Primaries

When our time here in Jerusalem is over and I am forced to end my retirement and re-enter the work force we have endless possibilities. We can move anywhere and do almost anything. As of right now, I do feel that it is the time in my life where I want to go somewhere long enough for my kids to make friends and make it through school. I also am at the point where I will probably work as a senior/lead pastor for the next phase of life. (This or possibly be a driver for UPS)! Obviously I want to go where God leads us and all of this can be changed by things I can not anticipate so please do not hold me to the following conclusions.

I have found inspiration from the presidential primary season in America in helping me to decide where exactly I would like to work when returning to the country. I have decided to do my own "primary" that will work in the opposite direction of states choosing a candidate. In this, it will be the candidate choosing the states. The best way to do this is to work through a process of elimination so at the risk of offending readers from all over (as if there are readers from all over) here are the first states to be eliminated:
All states east of California and south of I-80.
Arizona, New Mexico, Alabama, and Louisiana are too hot.
I was born in Georgia but don't drink Iced Tea.
Florida is a better place to visit than to live.
Mississippi is out because I do not speak the language.
The Texas state sign says, "Proud home of George W. Bush".
Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and the Carolina won't work because I cannot even name one country music song.
I also have eliminated Kansas, Wyoming, Idaho, Nevada, Montana, the Dakotas, and Iowa on principle.
I eliminated most of the East Coast because I do not dress "preppy" enough to live there.
In fact, lets be honest most of the country is eliminated because I just wont fit in. Some of the New England states are still in but drastically trailing in the polls. St. Louis, Chicago, parts of the upper Mid-west, and Denver have some appeal but probably won't make the cut because they are just too cold. So it is the West Coast that leads in the polls but that only makes sense because I am from the West Coast and because after living for a year in Israel where people are uptight, I think I need to return to the land of "casualness".
So in the next few months I will use this site to include all of you in an open dialogue in shaping some ideas for church. The important thing for me is to be a part of a gathering of people who are interested in following the God of the Bible and not one that has been confined by the limits of often faulty theology and manipulated by political motivation. I am interested in joining with the churches who are waking up to the reality that the American church has lost touch with the world in which it lives and it has lost the revolutionary power that the universal Church had in its origins.
Part one of "shaping of the church" will come later this week so please join in the process.

By the way, this is my disclaimer to God. If you really want my family to move to Texas we are willing. Just remember that we already are spending a year in a place like Texas where 1) we are not fluent in the language, 2) where everyone man and woman carries a gun, 3) where they like to build big fences to keep people out, 4) where we are the minority religion, and 5) where the people would be willing and eager to fight any country up for the challenge.


Anonymous said...

I'm sure you have seen gladiator with Mr. Crow. Well I think it will paint a good picture of what you have waiting for you here in oh so beautiful sunny southern california. When Maximus returned well and alive his trust worthy servant revealed to him that his most loyal warriors have been displaced and were camped out in waiting. There is a small rugged group of radicals here waiting for a visionary to move us in the right direction. We are ready and waiting to go into battle with you. We pray your led this way.

Mike said...

Let the horse race begin?!

Steve said...

Indeed Mr./Ms. Anonymous. I think it would be amazing to have a gathering of believers that learned loving and supporting people is a greater priority than programe. I've been studying hebrews and I just finished ch. 11 and I say we advance by faith. If God applauds the faith of a murder, prostitute, and a liar then I say lets step by faith. peace.

Stephen said...

I happen to know of a church in beautiful Portland, OR looking for a pastor outside the box!!! ;)

patricia said...

I vote for South Orange County.
Preferably Mission Viejo.

Who knows? maybe I'll even break down and babysit!

Liz said...

Ok you have to stick to Orange County, remember the Spanish Immersion? YOu have to think of the children. DOn't forget about your children (as in your actual children and those of us who love you guys and are patiently waiting for the church you speak of to be brought to life in the OC or at least in Southern California).

Anonymous said...

I cant figure out if I'm red at the blue states or blue about the red states. But that comes from being dislexic. Ryan I pray about your decision often. As you know I have been watching a certain Church and I think at the rate it's going, by the time you get back it will be empty of problems(no more people left) and ready for God to start leading it instead of a man that does not understand God or the culture; or even people in general. My vote is for you and your family. You let God lead you. You definately know the culture and we have experienced that you know and love people. This would be a complete change from what is there now. In Christ we love and miss you guys. Greg

Ryan said...

Anonymous #1- Thanks mom....
Okay actually, when I first read this comment I assumed you were going to compare my physical appearance to that of Russel Crowe. As long as "the radicals" you are speaking of are those wanting to pursue Christ and walk in love and grace I am excited. Thanks for the kind words.

Mike- I don't have a horse.

Steve- I think you just compared me to a murderer, a prostitute, and a liar.... if only I had a dime for everytime I heard that comparison.

Stephen- Portland definitely is still in the running. There is an issue of rain that I need to work through (emotionally).

Patricia- Babysit or lead the children's program?

Liz- Again, thanks for the kindness. The kids' schooling is a factor. Of course if they lived in the Northwest they could learn Canadian.

Anonymous Greg- Thanks for the support. I do want to lead a place where those who have been frustrated by past experiences with any church can come and heal and possibly even find their hope in God's Church restored. If you are the Greg I think you are, I of course would love to have you with us and I do hope you would feel loved and appreciated.

To all interested- A part of this process includes walking in the grace and forgiveness of everyone and in praying for and supporting all local gatherings of followers of Christ. The truth is that we all connect in different ways and no church is perfect for everyone. If I do lead a church we know full well that some will not approve of all we do and some would not want to join in our style of expression. One thing that is a non-negotiable for me is to be a part of a gathering of people who admit shortcomings, accept shortcomings, forgive shortcomings, and model grace to the world (and to other churches).
In the early 2nd century a writer by the name of Celsus criticized Christians by saying, "Christians detest each other [and they slander each other with abuse]... they cannot even come to any sort of agreement in their teaching".
We cannot change the response by other Christians but we can and will change our response even if we stand alone or if others gossip and slander us.
I do believe that a church full of people who love those who disagree with them and who forgive at all costs and those who worry only about their reputation in God's eyes is a rare thing but attainable and beautiful. Let's be a part of that!

Anonymous said...


Andrew said...

About the East coast, I think you dress preppy enough, after all you do shop at Banana Republic.

Tim said...

I side with Stephen. Portland it is.