On The Gulf Coast, Mardi Gras is a big deal as most people participate in some form or fashion whether it be going to parades or just eating king cake! Personally, I have never understood the whole Mardi Gras thing and honestly, I think it is very silly. Just my opinion, but then again, I dont like clowns, masks or anything to do with a “carnival!”
At Oasis Church, The Church I pastor, we decided a couple of years ago to be bold and put a float in the local Pascagoula parade. Not to endorse or to be a part of the Mardi Gras celebration, but to be a light and reach people as thousands will gather each year for this parade. You can see the video on the Oasis Facebook page as the local media WLOX-TV did a story on the parade and even highlighted the Oasis float as one of the reporters mentioned that he had never seen a church in a parade before! That is a good thing, I guess… Not without recourse though, I know. Again, our mission in being a part of the parade is to be a shining light in the middle of the craziness! Now in Pascagoula, albeit there are some crazies, is primarily a family event. Not like Mobile, AL and New Orleans.
This decision to have a float in the parade is and has been very challenging because of the tension fighting against the notion as well as the backlash of negativity that comes from being there as a church. Again, if 1 person can see love, hope and life that is found in Jesus, It is all worth it!
What I haven’t talked about is the spiritual pressure and isolation that such decisions have on me personally. People leave our church due to whatever reason during this time, tensions are high already for numerous reasons, and the reputation of our church that is reflected impacts me and my family directly more than any other because we are the founding / Sr. Pastor of the church. HOWEVER, as I have stated multiple times, Oasis will be a church that pushes the envelope, if need be, to reach un-churched people! Proof is found in the number of decisions for Jesus following the parade day each year as numerous people visit our church and hear a plain message on The Love, Hope, and Life that is found in a relationship with Jesus! So that is the why behind the what on the Mardi Gras parade…
So now the skitzophrenic pastor part…
The weight spiritually on a pastor is unparalleled than anything I have ever felt or had to deal with. The desire to quit and the thoughts of it are in abundance because of that very thing along with staffing issues, expansion projects, critical people, broken people, preaching, teaching, casting vision, building, equipping, etc… etc… etc…
Have I mentioned this morning I get to the office to find that someone took a baseball bat to our mailbox and knocked it off the post?? Really? I mean… WHY? I mean, we are a church doing good things! We are doing all we can to improve our city and region! We are FOR people, Not against! I don’t fully understand things like that no more than trying to understand why someone who chooses to leave the church after years of being involved and experiencing significant life-change and “allegedly” being “ALL-IN”!
1 little piece of conflict or difficulties and people bolt! I dont get this culture… We don’t really commit to each other. We don’t really stick close to one another and support unless there is something in return that can be done for us or unless everything is the way we think it ought to be!
This causes me to think sometimes I have developed somewhat of a skitzophrenic personality! lol! The people you love and pray for will leave you and stab you! The people you lead closer to Jesus and their destiny will also blog about you when you make them mad! The people you spend time with investing all you can to help them and to empower them, will ultimately turn their back and leave you… this causes pastors to withdraw and become isolated.
I know. I have done that.
You have major wins like 9 people coming to Christ on Sunday only to have losses immediately thereafter. It’s challenging to stay “sane” with all the ups and downs!!!!
You pour into people and preach life-transforming messages only to find that masses of people would rather not get up and come to The House to be a part of the family gathering that is so powerful, and yes, it is disappointing. But we press on…
I am in the middle of a season right now where I am seeing The Lord pour out massive blessing on Oasis Church financially, expansion is in the works, people are getting saved, lives are being transformed, but yet, the battle is intense, draining and all-consuming.
Doesn’t make it easy, but it is known that the greatest breakthroughs occur usually after the most severe of storms. I know that. But again, doesn’t make it easy.
I have vented enough and become maybe a little too transparent in this post. These are just Monday Morning Reflections and I must thank my wife, my staff and a select few others for being in battle with me and for enduring for the long-haul. Your measure of dedication, trust and love speaks more than any words that could ever be said. The things I have said in this post I am sure could be echoed by many other pastors and church leaders. I have just said what most may be thinking…
So what can you do for me? Just pray. That is all. No seriously… Just pray. Me, my family, our staff, and the family of faith at Oasis needs prayer covering more than ever before because the future is EXTREMELY bright and the church is growing well beyond these walls that we meet in! Join with us and pray for wisdom, strength, and life to increase! My heart is to be a full over-comer in all things and to help you be as well!!!
Just in thought this morning,
I love your realness and I am so glad you never give up, no matter the pressure!!
We stand with you brother! You and your family have our support in both the physical and spiritual worlds. Whether the support be intercession or fashioning a whip out of cords and chasing the money-changers out of the temple! Here is a redneck analogy for you… when you are the “light of truth” on the hill those that you are a threat to are always going to “plink” at you… just like morons shooting at traffic lights and street lights on the backroads. They don’t shoot at the lights that are out. Only the ones that are shining brightly! Be encouraged, my brother. If you are not being attacked then you are right where the enemy wants you!
That sounds a lot to me like going to the highways and byways and compelling them to come. You and Toni have such a loving heart for your community not just for the people in your church!
As long as everyone on the float followed the Bible, I say awesome! Personally, I hate Mardi Gras but I know a lot of church folks who go so since the “Church” is already there they might as well be a beacon for Christ. And I’m praying for you all.