Call of duty

I think I want to be a pastor.

Yes, I just stated that.

(Don’t worry – there’s more.)

I think the only reason I am not a pastor is I haven’t gone through the motions.

And I don’t like Christians.

Does that make a difference?

Like a child who skips the vegetables and goes right for the good stuff at dinner, I’m only interested in writing sermons. Hell, I could probably deliver one.

You would more than likely be delivered, too.

I WILL GET INTO the part about not liking Christians. I’ll even share a little bit about my faith (I have lots of it), but I’ll do that at the end of this post …

… because this is about my fascination with the duties of a pastor. One of those duties, anyway.

As a writer, I’ve explored the process of writing sermons:

  • decide what you want to say
  • notice the triggers and emotional queues of your congregation
  • employ those queues and triggers when writing what you want to say

There’s a little more to it than this, I know, but the above text is the meat and potatoes of the operation. Similar to authoring a position paper, it’s important to address the opposition to your message and discredit it – using the triggers and emotional queues of your congregation, of course.

It also helps to state variations of the same message over and over again. This will easily convince the portion of your congregation who have never developed critical thinking skills. For those with slightly developed critical thinking, use the queues and triggers to win them over.

Your only hope with conspiracy-minded individuals is to “guilt” them into buying what you’re selling – and if that doesn’t work, label them something the rest of your congregation considers derogatory so the “cancer” doesn’t spread.

THE “TRIGGERS AND QUEUES” COMPONENT of this formula is highly effective and downright critical. Similar to what is done by media outlets, take note of the words, phrases and topics that incite reactions in your congregation. Store this information for later – if your congregation collectively cringes at discussion of other churches’ practices or seems moved to action when mentioning persons without faith, you can use this to your advantage by working the issues into future sermons.

News outlets do this constantly. MSNBC understands it has a liberal viewership. Therefore, all of its story topics and how they’re presented cater to the interests of liberals. Fox News does the same thing, except it caters to conservatives.

Interestingly enough, CNN – probably the closest thing to the middle of the road available – has some of the lowest ratings of major news networks. CNN doesn’t cater to either side, so its viewership is steadily being lost to networks that do.

Folks want to hear what they love and what they hate. If you’re just giving them the message, you’re not going to keep their attention.

I’d love to take a shot at this some time.

MY FAVORITE PASTOR is the guy I’m currently using. I grew up Lutheran (old school, dark and dreary – not this happy-go-lucky Evangelical stuff that’s recently come about), but this one’s a Methodist because his facility is within walking distance of my house. I don’t think the “flavor” of Christianity makes a lot of difference to me: if you touch on topics I find interesting, I’m buying what you’re selling.

And he’s about as liberal as they come here in the Bible Belt. And he’s got a PhD. And he’s a literature buff who frequently references Soren Kierkegaard. And he’s a former Baptist who left the church for “differences.” Put all of that together and you’ve got a library of sermons I want to hear.

I always leave services motivated to exercise my faith in God.

SO HOW DOES THIS fit together? Why would I compare pastors’ tactics to those of salesmen and state I don’t like Christians and still go to church? Still claim to have faith?

Simple. God is what I make it. God is what anyone makes it. God is God, but religion is man-made. Religion is what makes us hate – not God. Religion is what triggers wars, extortion and crimes against humanity. Religion makes us judge one another.

And more often than not, it’s a church member’s interpretation of a pastor’s words – whether accurate or inaccurate – that drives these awful acts.

No one needs a pastor to bring him or her closer to God. Pastors can be helpful, but many bring only harm, either to us or to others. God is in all things, not just a man-made structure we visit on Sundays.

What we need to do is open our eyes, notice and start living our own interpretations of His word.

 

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