Friday, December 19, 2008

A new day has dawned...

My dad recently discovered Facebook. He previously had an account on some Christian imposter site, but finally saw the light and made the jump to Facebook. We talk nearly every day and it has truly been a joy listening to him talk about reconnecting with people from the past. Many of the people he talks most about are folks that he pastored in his early years back in Georgia and Tennessee. The problem is that he lost touch with folks when he left Georgia and Tennessee and it wasn't altogether accidental.

You see, the old school way of doing ministry was to cut all ties with people when you left a church. It was a way of showing respect to the new pastor and to keep your hands out of the "pie" once you had left town. It was something that was grilled into guys that were studying to become pastors. I understand the logic behind this but as the post title declares, "a new day has dawned..."

The truth is that we have never had to deal with the technology that is available to us these days. With cell phones changing the dynamics of long distance calling and with social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook, it has never been easier to stay connected with old friends. Since joining Facebook, I regularly chat with people I had not previously spoken with for 10 years or more.

So for all the old school guys out there, it is time to catch up and realize we live in a different era. My dad invested 12 years in people's lives in GA and just walked away from relationships because he was taught it was the right thing to do. He invested 9 years in a lot of people in Tennesse and just walked away from relationships out of respect for the new guy. It isn't the right thing to do any longer. For a religion that stresses the importance of relationship and community it seems ludicrous to continue to operate in antiquity.

Sure a former pastor or staffer needs to put boundaries about what they are willing to talk about with people from a prior church. Keep it about personal issues and everything should work itself out. But is it right for a youth pastor to stop communication with a teen that is struggling with a parents divorce or another major issue simply because the youth pastor moved to another church? What if there is not a new youth pastor on the scene or what if the kid simply doesn't connect or trust the new guy yet? Do we stop the communication?

If Paul had simply walked away from many of the folks that he spent time with on his missionary journey, we would be missing half of the books in the New Testament. Paul cared about the people he met, cared about them personally and spiritually, and used the technology of the day to provide letters of encouragement or rebuke. Who better to speak than Paul, someone who knew them, knew their story, and knew what they needed to hear? I believe the same is true today.

Here is a quote my dad posted on my wall, "They ground into us that when you left a church you should leave and not go back or stay in touch . . . I've missed a pile of blessings and a few opportunities to be a blessing."

A new day has dawned and there is no excuse for missing a pile of blessings or being blessings to folks in this day and age.

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