Jim Grey, Preacher

I’m, gulp, preaching in church this Sunday. I’m a software developer, not a preacher!

At church, our new pastor resigned. He’d been with us just since March. All the reasons are private, but he left on good terms.

Zeiss Ikon Contessa LK, Ultrafine Extreme 100, 2018.

The Elders are now directly operating the church, including doing the preaching on Sunday. That includes me! Which is a little daunting. I have preached twice before, when our previous pastor had to be away and he was desperate for someone to fill in. I used to teach a lot of Sunday school, and I’m comfortable doing that. My sermons will be a lot like Sunday school lessons without the audience asking questions.

At West Park Christian Church
Pentax KM, 28mm f/2.8 SMC Pentax-M, Kodak Tri-X, 2017.

We hired our new pastor to help us attract and retain people from the Generation Z and Millennial generations, which are underrepresented in our congregation. The new pastor made some changes in our worship that our Generation X and Baby Boomer members found challenging. But it’s up to us mature Christians in the older generation to adapt with the times. We don’t get to be set in our ways. Yet worship still needs to feel like worship to us. It’s a tricky balance to strike, and this is what I’m going to talk about. I’m going to borrow heavily from this old post and a little maybe from this one to build my message.

As we move through the holiday season, we will reflect as an Eldership and as a congregation on what we want to do next. That will certainly involve looking for a new pastor. But we want to be certain of what we want, and as much as we can of what God wants, first.

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22 responses to “Jim Grey, Preacher”

  1. J P Avatar

    Younger members are underrepresented in almost every Christian tradition, so you are not alone. In the Catholic world I inhabit the interesting thing is that the young people who do come tend to attend parishes that have a traditional flavor to them. One explanation that makes some sense (to me, anyway) is that the young have grown up in a world where anything goes and crave the kind of order and structure and tradition that we gray heads used to rebel against. But maybe that just applies to those who come and not to those who don’t.

    If you crack the code you will have others beating a path to your door asking how you did it.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I have no good ideas on how to reach the younger generations. I’m just an operations guy when it comes to church leadership: however you want to run it, I’ll make it run well. I hope we get a good pastor soon who can help us figure out how to reach the younger generation.

  2. Greg Clawson Avatar
    Greg Clawson

    Good luck on the Sermon Jim. God just wants our hearts to be willing to serve Him, He will give you the words to say. God Bless Jim.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thank you kind sir!

  3. Michael McNeill Avatar

    Break a leg, Jim (or whatever the equivalent is!)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I hope my legs stay intact — it’s four steps up onto the stage and I’m not sure I could navigate them on crutches! :-)

  4. Adnan Aslam Dar Avatar

    Jim its interesting and different experience for a software developer to pursue preaching

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      It sure is. I don’t feel like this is my lifelong calling but I’ll do it when asked.

  5. Jon Avatar

    That sounds like a powerful massage Jim, I’m sure it will be well received. Your Church’s problem is a common one all over, not just in the USA either. Some years ago I was in Italy visiting family in our village, and when I went to Mass on Sunday, It was practically empty except for a smattering if elderly people.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks Jon, here’s hoping it’s received well. We appear to be in a time when traditional Christian faith is fading.

  6. David A Lockwood Avatar

    Being a life long agnostic but a great believer in the solace that religion brings into people’s lives. I find it sad when communities struggle to maintain a church community if there is a need. I think it a big mistake in moving away from traditional values just in the hope of attracting a new congregation. It may bring temporary gain, but in the long run surely traditional values is the bedrock of any religion, abandon it at your peril.
    Best of luck and wish you well in finding a new Pastor.
    Ps, I’m sure your sermon will be fine.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I think if you were to time-travel to a church’s service 50, 100, and 150 years ago you’d see that worship has changed quite a bit with time, in the churches that aren’t as liturgical, like mine. The Catholics and the Episcopalians et. al. have changed much more slowly to be sure.

      But I think you’d find that the values have changed little. The changes are about method, not about mission.

      1. David A Lockwood Avatar

        Here in UK there seems to be a doctrinal change in some aspects of what for hundreds of years has been a certainty in religious values. This constant change to try and meet perceived modern views undermines the message IMHO. I think this is why Islam and Budist beliefs are now so appealing to the younger generation, it shows a certainty in their beliefs that Christianity seems to be departing from.
        Sorry, I am sure you didn’t expect to enter a doctrinal discussion with an agnostic when you posted you thoughts for today.

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          No worries. I think that some of what have been considered Christian values were added by the church and were not core in early Christianity. There seems to be a movement to return to the real core values of Christianity. But that’s unsettling.

  7. dougd Avatar

    Well jim, the pastors who resonate the most with me are those who had a different career first, and the life experience that goes with it.
    So in that regard you’ll be fine, I wish I lived close enough to attend.
    I hope your church will somehow be blessed in yet another time of change.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’ve had some life experience, that’s for sure. Here’s hoping we can find our next pastor quickly.

  8. Rosilyn Avatar

    You seem like a focused individual and the plans of God to prosper you and bring you into good health will be your guide Blessings .

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thank you!

  9. Michael Avatar

    I wish I would have known sooner so I could make a surprise appearance, but I’m liturgist this Sunday now. I’m sure you’ll do fine. Engineers can make fine pastors, too. ;)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Yes, we logically and rationally explain the word of God!

  10. Darts and Letters Avatar
    Darts and Letters

    What kind of changes in worship did younger members of the congregation find particularly challenging? You can point me to one of your old posts if you’ve written about it, before. I don’t mean to put you out about such a complicated thing. Guest preaching seems like it would be a real privilege and honor. Potentially daunting, for sure. But a great duty fulfilled. Are guest preachers required to have fulfilled a certain amount of seminary or other related education or spiritual study?

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      It’s the older members, say age 50 and up, who struggle. They want the music not to change. They like communion and offering brought to them as it always was, rather than having to come down front to get it. They don’t like it that the order of worship changes every so often, they want it to stay predictable. They prefer the more sedate way we used to do things; the service is higher energy now. But it’s worth noting that our congregation skews older in a neighborhood that skews younger. We are not not retaining people from the neighborhood because when they visit us it feels like stepping into 1985.

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