John 10

The Lost Evangelical


When I was 16 years old, I joined a 6-month youth discipleship class which met every Saturday for the entire day to pray, study the Bible, memorize scripture and do various outreach projects. It was a long, tough class!

One of our “outreaches” was something I will never forget. We had to go to downtown Tacoma and join other churches in a anti-abortion protest. I hated every minute of this experience. It just didn’t feel right to me and the contrarian in me kept wondering, “how is this considered outreach?”.

While I always have and always will believe that abortion is not part of God’s plan for humanity, I’m also not proud of the fact that I once took part in protesting abortion, and the kind of witness I was for the women who walked in and out of that clinic.

In today’s culture, we see and hear the trending topic of “evangelicalism”...the “evangelical vote”...the “evangelical church” so often. Its come to the point where I’m certain too many Christians aren’t even sure what the word evangelical means anymore.  Frankly...the word has been hijacked for political purposes and the Church faces a tough decision. Do we keep going along, or take the word back and start over?

The word evangelical is over 2000 years old and it means “good news”. When the early Christians confessed in their Roman occupied lands that Jesus is Lord, they were proclaiming good news! When the church feeds and takes care of the poor, this is good news!  When churches rally together in their communities for the sake of unity, this is good news! 

In John 10, Jesus describes himself as the gate. The gate by which his sheep have complete access to the Father. I believe this illustration is a crucial reminder for us today. Access to God has always been through Jesus. He is the gate...yet somehow too many Christians have positioned themselves to be the gatekeepers. Jesus never once taught that we are to be guardians. He taught us to be bringers and inviters!

This weekend, I will bring a close to our Trending series as we explore this complicated and sometimes controversial term - evangelical. We’ll look further into Jesus’s illustration of being the “gate” and ask ourselves...”have I become a gatekeeper?”  “How can I take back this word evangelical so that my family, neighbor and community can once again see it as Good News?”  I hope you’ll join us this weekend!

Grace and Peace.

Pastor Rex

Everyone Needs a Pastor


Jesus said, I am the good shepherd, the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.He who is a hired hand and does not love the sheep when he sees the wolf come – he flees.  But the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.  John 10:11-12

This week, Josh and I sat with a wonderful family at Swedish hospital as their father/brother/husband went through a quadruple bypass.  The night before, our Middle School pastor, Josh Zappone, texted me and asked if he could join me learn about pastoral care.  He is also a friend of the son-in-law of this dynamic member of our church and work together in the Student Ministry.

I told him to meet me at my house at 5:00 am.  He asked what should he wear to the hospital. I replied, "Wear slacks, a dress shirt, and a sports jacket." However, when I replied I sent the text to Debbie Walter instead of Josh – it must have been around 10:00pm at the time.  She texted back, "I think this message was intended for someone else."  Jackie had a good laugh.  When Josh arrived at my house the next morning his first words were: "Man, this is early."  Thinking about many other early mornings, I responded, "Yeah, it's just like going fishing."

2650550_4784570_pmThere is a joy in helping people and friendships run deeper when you share challenges.  It has been our practice to have a pastor wait with the family as their loved one is going through a bypass, or transplant etc.  It is also our policy that no one in the area dies alone.  We wait with patients who will never go to our church just because it can be so helpful to sit with them, pray with them, and even sing to them (yes I have even been known to sing in such situations - although some request that I don’t).  Every once in a while some one says, "I bet you don’t do this for everyone."  I reply simply, "Yes, we pretty much do.  Even people that don’t go to the church."

While church growth experts will tell you this is kind of hands-on pastoral care is quickly disappearing from growing churches, we hold this as a high ideal.  My dad did as well for 58 years of ministry.  My grandfather for 55 years.  As they taught me the ministry, it was non negotiable because everyone needs a pastor.  Church can be a show on Sunday mornings where no one gets to know each other.  They keep a distance, which is becoming so prominent in our digital age.  Their kids never get to know the pastor as friend of the family. People go through divorce, job loss, pressures of success, weddings and funerals, crisis and death alone.

When I go door-to-door inviting people to church, some people will say they used to be a churched person but they were so turned off.  "Why should I get or stay involved in your church – you are obviously not perfect."  I always respond, "Because at some point everyone needs a pastor."

It was just a couple of weeks ago that I was intensive care.  Someone advised me to keep it a secret that I had a life threatening Pulmonary embolism.  I counter, "No, I need as many people praying as possible."  When my daughter Becca came to be my pastor, I told her I didn’t need a pastor I knew almost everyone at this hospital – I felt like they were all friends. And I am not afraid to die.  My daughter scolded me, "Dad everyone needs a pastor."  She took my hand and prayed for me and I had to agree.

Pastor David visited not long after and he also grabbed my hand for a prayer.  Pastor Linda read me a scripture and led Jackie and I in prayer.  You know what, Becca was right everyone needs a pastor.  Every doctor, every nurse, every pastor and every executive, children and grandparents.  All of us. I think I am a living, walking, talking miracle.  Yes, I have great doctors that saved my life and the nurses were exceptional.  But I would not wanted to go through what I went through without the calming, loving, healing, restoring, unifying power of prayer by friends from many churches.  Thank you if you were one of the people praying for me.  Let's continue being a church that believes that everyone needs a pastor sometimes.

Your friend for the rest of my life,

Pastor Tim White

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