A Peek Behind the Curtain of Pastoral Ministry

I’m far enough now in my pastoring journey to tell you from experience that the long hard years of struggle are worth it. Not everyone is called to this, and not everyone should desire to be called. But to this, I am called. And there’s nothing I’d rather do.

If you’ve never had an opportunity to peek behind the curtain of pastoral ministry, you’re likely unaware of some of the darker experiences of this vocation. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart, and pastors who stay in one place long enough inevitably experience seasons of discouragement, fatigue, turmoil, and attack.
 
During these times it is easy to look elsewhere for love and affirmation. Another church calls, for example, and asks you to be a guest preacher in their worship service or at a special event. There’s nothing wrong with accepting, of course, and as long as your motives are pure it can be a refreshing adventure.
 
When you step onto a stage and face a group of people who have invited you, this one time, to speak to them about something, you know there’s probably a lot of affirmation in store for you afterwards. But this can (and often does) quickly turn into a kind of spiritual adultery. Not to stretch the marriage metaphor too far, but you might see an attractiveness in them; they might see the same in you. It’s like flirting, and it’s just as dangerous: you imagine possibilities you shouldn’t; you entertain thoughts better left unexplored.

Those who’ve invited you to speak don’t know much about you. They’ve probably heard some good things and want to check you out for themselves – possibly without an additional motive, possibly not. They might just be looking for a good guest preacher, but it’s also possible that there’s a vacant pastoral position at their church.
 
All you really know is that they thought well enough of you to invite you to speak and now here you are speaking, and there they are in front of you, attentively listening to your words.
 
The Clean Slate Illusion
Unlike when you look out at your own congregation, you have no idea who’s struggling with bitterness, battling substance abuse, thinking of leaving their spouse or addicted to pornography. Maybe none of these people are struggling with those things, but most likely some of them are. If you lack the insight and experience to know that this is true, it can make this new group of people an appealing avenue of potential escape from your current troubles.
 
At the same time, they look at you and see someone with a clean slate and tremendous potential. They don’t know about the things you struggle with as a human being and a pastor. They don’t yet see your annoying habits or your character faults.

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It seems like a match made in heaven, but as long as it’s based only on what we’ve presented to each other as our best selves, it’s probably doomed to failure.
 
Other Opportunities
And there are other opportunities to make an exit from a painful situation. There’s the lure of publishing and subsequent speaking opportunities on the conference circuit. No doubt some are called to this form of itinerant ministry but some pursue it as an escape from the rigours and limits of local church leadership.
 
The truth is, with all this affirmation from people who don’t know you as well as your own congregation does, it’s quite easy to succumb to the temptation to be impressed with yourself too! And when you’re a pastor and it’s been a rough week (or month… or year!) it’s quite easy to start thinking about these other things you do on the side that seem to have a considerable upside and virtually no downside.

But in the end, this is an illusion. Being a best-selling author and travelling speaker has an appeal, but the truth is I would miss the daily strains and pressures of pastoring. I would miss the discipline that it builds into my life and the time and opportunities it affords me to take long looks at God’s word on a regular basis.
 
I’m far enough now in my pastoring journey to tell you from experience that the long hard years of struggle are worth it. Not everyone is called to this, and not everyone should desire to be called. But to this, I am called. And there’s nothing I’d rather do.

Michael Krahn is the Lead Pastor of the EMMC church in Aylmer, Ontario, where he has served for the last 13 years. He has been married to Anne Marie for 27 years and together they have three daughters (19,18,16). You can find more of Michael’s writing at www.michaelkrahn.com or connect on social media at @Michael_G_Krahn (Twitter), pastor.michael.krahn (IG), and Michael.George.Krahn (Fb)


 

Hormone Replacement Therapy, Pastors Aren’t the Brand, and A Uniquely Stupid Period – Points of Interest for Sept. 27, 2022

The Medical Leash of Hormone Replacement Therapy

Please carefully read these words by someone who had undergone this process.

“I am permanently leashed to a medical provider. My only freedom is that I can pick who holds the leash. The children who are being transitioned are being needlessly put onto this leash. They typically start the process with healthy bodies, but then so-called medical professionals assist these children in deliberately—permanently—damaging them. Why? For aesthetics.”

“It should never be considered normal or preferable to treat problems like autism spectrum disorder, anxiety, traumas, depression, or other social disorders by placing children on puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones. It is not a treatment path. It is a collar and a chain.”

(PLEASE!) Continue reading…

Pastors Aren’t the Brand

These are good and helpful words by my friend Darryl Dash

“Work at building ministry around Jesus, not around you. Guard against the pastor being the main face of the church. Focus on servanthood. Look for ways to not meet the unhealthy expectations of leadership that put too much emphasis on the leader. Make Sundays less about the pastor and his gifts. Shift the focus to Christ.”

“Churches: look for pastors who are interchangeable in the best sense of the word. When they’re done, another faithful pastor can take their place. Look for someone who is committed to working with other leaders and serving in private, not just in public.”

Continue reading…

Why the Past 10 Years of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid

Take a look at this long but fascinating article that helps to make some sense of the societal disorder we’ve seen since the advent of social media.

“A democracy cannot survive if its public squares are places where people fear speaking up and where no stable consensus can be reached. Social media’s empowerment of the far left, the far right, domestic trolls, and foreign agents is creating a system that looks less like democracy and more like rule by the most aggressive.”

Continue reading…

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Michael Krahn is the Lead Pastor of the EMMC church in Aylmer, Ontario, where he has served for the last 13 years. He has been married to Anne Marie for 27 years and together they have three daughters (19,18,16). You can find more of Michael’s writing at www.michaelkrahn.com or connect on social media at @Michael_G_Krahn (Twitter), pastor.michael.krahn (IG), and Michael.George.Krahn (Fb)

When Temptation Leads to Slaughter

In a scene in Proverbs 7:22-23, a young man is in thrall to an adulterous woman and we read that “All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a stag is caught fast till an arrow pierces its liver; as a bird rushes into a snare; he does not know that it will cost him his life.

In the preceding verses (10-21), we see a taxonomy of scheming temptations. The woman has been pleading with him to succumb to her earnest appeals. And then “all at once” he follows her. This doesn’t mean he wasn’t tempted until this point, but that he feigned unwillingness – but it was all part of the dance. And now this persistent chipping away has exposed the wide fault lines of his weak dam of resistance.

This seemingly sudden surrender was sealed long before the temptations were applied. The young man had earlier ensured his fate by moving toward temptation instead of away from it. The narrator explains: “I have perceived among the youths, a young man lacking sense, passing along the street near her corner, taking the road to her house in the twilight, in the evening, at the time of night and darkness.” (v7-9)

We almost always lose our battles with temptation long before any physical action occurs. Temptations abound; if we don’t recognize and identify them, we will be gently led astray. And if we do, in fact, recognize them but walk toward them anyway, we should not fool ourselves and think that we too will not “all at once” be overcome by them.

Lust, gossip, slander, greed, or some other pernicious sin is at this moment “crouching at your door” (Gen. 4:7), preparing to invite you to abandon the path of righteousness and enter its false haven of pleasure, of finely covered couches and fragrantly perfumed beds.

Recognize this reality early and daily and walk in the other direction. Remain on the path of righteousness by doing as Paul instructs in Galatians 5:16: “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

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Michael Krahn is the Lead Pastor of the EMMC church in Aylmer, Ontario, where he has served for the last 13 years. He has been married to Anne Marie for 27 years and together they have three daughters (19,18,16). You can find more of Michael’s writing at www.michaelkrahn.com or connect on social media at @Michael_G_Krahn (Twitter), pastor.michael.krahn (IG), and Michael.George.Krahn (Fb)

Don’t Share Your Pronouns, Manti Te’o’s Fake Girlfriend, and Preaching to Children – Points of Interest for Sept. 12, 2022

When Asked ‘What Are Your Pronouns,’ Don’t Answer

Here’s a take on the pronouns debate from a non-religious evolutionary biologist.

“Coercing people into publicly stating their pronouns in the name of ‘inclusion’ is a Trojan horse that empowers gender ideology and expands its reach. It is the thin end of the gender activists’ wedge designed to normalize their worldview. Participating in pronoun rituals makes you complicit in gender ideology’s regressive belief system, thereby legitimizing it. Far from an innocuous act signaling support for inclusion, it serves as an implicit endorsement of gender ideology and all of its radical tenets.”

continue reading

How Manti Te’o’s Fake Girlfriend Helps Explain Transgenderism

I’m not into football (or whatever sport this is about) but this is a sadly fascinating story nonetheless.

“Most young adults today have grown up in a world where they’re known mostly by how they “present” themselves online. They take for granted that a certain distance between their real self and their online self is normal. In some ways, the many possibilities of a digital self have become more compelling than the boring old embodied self in all its limitations.”

“For adolescents especially, struggling through awkward bodily development, embracing a disembodied identity online can feel like a reprieve.”

Preacher, Don’t Forget to Speak to the Children

“Preacher, you should speak to the children in your sermons. It’s a fun and endearing task. I’m not always successful, but I try in every sermon to make a specific application to children. This helps them to perk up and listen. It helps them to know that their pastor cares about them. But most importantly, it communicates that the preached Word is for them, too.”

“Churches tend to prioritize what their pastors prioritize. So I’ve noticed that my applications to children have pushed the church as a whole to build intergenerational relationships.”

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Michael Krahn is the Lead Pastor of the EMMC church in Aylmer, Ontario, where he has served for the last 13 years. He has been married to Anne Marie for 27 years and together they have three daughters (19,18,16). You can find more of Michael’s writing at www.michaelkrahn.com or connect on social media at @Michael_G_Krahn (Twitter), pastor.michael.krahn (IG), and Michael.George.Krahn (Fb)

Discord is a Groomer’s Paradise: A Warning to Parents

What I’m about to share is not fear-mongering and the dangerous truth about what you’ll read below is well-known by people who would know: police, principals, and psychotherapists. I’ve received direct personal confirmation from at least one of each that they know Discord is a problem among teens. 

Discord says this about itself: “IMAGINE A PLACE…where you can belong to a school club, a gaming group, or a worldwide art community. Where just you and a handful of friends can spend time together. A place that makes it easy to talk every day and hang out more often.”

Don’t believe the hype. Instead, this is the reality: Discord is a groomer’s paradise. 

A groomer is “someone who builds a relationship, trust and emotional connection with a child or young person so they can manipulate, exploit and abuse them.” Discord is filled with such people.

In the News

This CNN story captures the reality well:

“CNN Business spoke to nearly a dozen parents who shared stories about their teenagers being exposed to self-harm chats, sexually explicit content and sexual predators on the platform, including users they believed were older men seeking inappropriate pictures and videos.”

“A father outside Boston, who initially didn’t think much of his 13-year-old daughter downloading Discord last summer ‘because she’s a gamer,’ later discovered she had been talking with a man in his 30s who was looking for photos of her and wanted to engage in ‘naughty cam’ activities, in messages reviewed by CNN Business.”

“Discord ranked among the top five apps or platforms for content flagged by its algorithms for severe violence, bullying, sexual content and suicidal ideation.”

“Exploitative content… an umbrella category which encompasses sexually explicit material… went from around 130,000 removals in the second half of 2020 to 238,000 in the first half of 2021, and the removal of exploitative content servers – which Discord defines as non-consensual pornography and sexual content related to minors – nearly doubled to more than 11,000.”

Are Your Kids on Discord? 

Have you taken a close look at what they’re into and accessing? It could be that they are only connecting with gamer friends, but many parents have learned too late that there was much more going on. 

Discord is not an innocuous place for “gamer kids” to gather. It’s a candy store located in the red-light district. It’s a G-rated movie playing on a double bill with an adult film. It’s a breeding ground for predators and a slaughterhouse for many impressionable kids. 

You might be afraid to take a look and find out, but you should do it anyway – the sooner the better.

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Michael Krahn is the Lead Pastor of the EMMC church in Aylmer, Ontario, where he has served for the last 13 years. He has been married to Anne Marie for 27 years and together they have three daughters (19,18,16). You can find more of Michael’s writing at www.michaelkrahn.com or connect on social media at @Michael_G_Krahn (Twitter), pastor.michael.krahn (IG), and Michael.George.Krahn (Fb)

Teens and Social Media, Gaming and the Metaverse, and The Painful and Fruitful Ministry of Charles Simeon – Points of Interest for August 22, 2022

5 New Stats You Should Know About Teens and Social Media

“It’s not hyperbolic to say that YouTube is the most influential—and, therefore, the most important—website in the world. It’s used by almost every single teen in the country, and as of Pew’s latest research of U.S. adults in 2021, it’s also used by 81 percent of all adults. YouTube is king of the social media world.”

“If you and I are going to help the teenagers in our lives have a more healthy relationship with social media, we need to be willing to evaluate our own. The Pew research clearly shows that social media is a teen issue, but it’s not only a teen and student ministry issue. We ought to check our own lives before we instruct the teens in our care.”

Gaming and the Metaverse – Mere Orthodoxy

“The purpose of gaming is to simulate meaning… Video games give us a way to feel important while meaning nothing… This explains why so many video games are preoccupied with giving you experiences that would have life-wrecking consequences were you to have them in the real world. I get to have the thrill of combat or speeding or killing without the consequences. This may seem obvious, but it is surprising how many people seem to have forgotten this.”

The Painful and Fruitful Ministry of Charles Simeon

“Simeon endured his many challenges by attending carefully to his own soul. He learned a dictum early in his life that ‘to soar heavenward’ one must ‘grow downwards in humility.’ So, Simeon spent long hours every day in God’s word and prayer. In fact, he went to bed early so that he could get up early and give unhurried time to his Lord in these ways.”

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Michael Krahn is the Lead Pastor of the EMMC church in Aylmer, Ontario, where he has served for the last 13 years. He has been married to Anne Marie for 27 years and together they have three daughters (19,18,16). You can find more of Michael’s writing at www.michaelkrahn.com or connect on social media at @Michael_G_Krahn (Twitter), pastor.michael.krahn (IG), and Michael.George.Krahn (Fb)

Books Worth Reading: “The Pastor’s Justification”

“A different set of traits is needed for pastors than for the business world’s management culture. Paul writes, ‘But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children  (1 Thess. 2:7).’ This is not exactly the pastoral image that is most popular today. In an age when machismo and ‘catalytic, visionary’ life-coaching dominate the evangelical leadership ranks, the ministerial model of a breastfeeding mom is alien. There is a patience, a parental affection, a tender giving of one’s self that Scripture envisions for the pastor’s role in leadership. In 2 Corinthians 12:15 Paul announces, ‘I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls.’ That is the pastor’s heart.”

Jared Wilson, The Pastor’s Justification: Applying the Work of Christ in Your Life and Ministry

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Michael Krahn is the Lead Pastor of the EMMC church in Aylmer, Ontario, where he has served for the last 13 years. He has been married to Anne Marie for 27 years and together they have three daughters (19,18,16). You can find more of Michael’s writing at www.michaelkrahn.com or connect on social media at @Michael_G_Krahn (Twitter), pastor.michael.krahn (IG), and Michael.George.Krahn (Fb)

Yes, You Should Meditate

Other forms of meditation seek to empty the mind; Christian meditation has as its purpose to fill the mind with the words of God. This is not to say that there’s no value in clearing our minds, but as Christians, an empty mind is not the end goal.

Continue reading…

In 2009, during the heady days of the so-called “Emerging Church” movement and the counter movements and hyper-discernment watchdog “ministries” that followed, I was at a denominational meeting where a presentation was made in which the word reconciliation was used. Afterwards, the opportunity was given and a man who was visibly agitated stood up with a question. “I hear you using the word reconciliation,” he said, “and that’s a word that Rick Warren also uses. Is that where you got that word?”

Due to his apparent low opinion of Mr. Warren, reconciliation was now a “bad word” and shouldn’t be used. But there was an obvious problem with his reasoning: the word reconciliation was a Bible word long before it was a Rick Warren word.

Meditation
It seems silly, but we tend to do the same with other words as well. One of those words is meditation. Growing up in a post-Beatles Christian sub-culture the word meditation carried only negative connotations. Meditation, as we understood it, was something practiced by other religions in an attempt to appease or discover their gods, and so we were to have nothing to do with it.

But regardless of the baggage the word has accumulated or your discomfort with it, if you are a follower of Jesus, you must look into God’s word to see what he has to say about it. And when we do that we see that dozens of times, the Bible uses one of the two Hebrew words that convey the idea of meditation.

As it turns out, meditation, just like reconciliation, is a thoroughly biblical idea.

Meditating Day and Night
Psalm 1 tells us that the blessed person’s delight is the law of the Lord and that he meditates on this law day and night. What does this meditation look like? Is the blessed man sitting with legs crossed, fingers intertwined, emptying his mind of all thoughts, waiting to receive a serving of “cosmic energy”?

No. There is a difference between Biblical meditation and other forms. Other forms of meditation seek to empty the mind; Christian meditation has as its purpose to fill the mind with the words of God. This is not to say that there’s no value in clearing our minds, but as Christians, an empty mind is not the end goal.

Distraction is the Enemy of Meditation
From the moment we wake to the moment we go to sleep we are surrounded by sounds and images – distractions for our eyes and ears and minds. And distraction is the enemy of meditation.

Christian meditation is the practice of focusing intently on the words of God, but distraction is always seeking to pull our thoughts in a hundred different directions. We live in a culture of noise and distraction.

Puritan preacher and author Thomas Watson reminds us that, “Without meditation, the truths which we know will never affect our hearts… As a hammer drives a nail to the head; so meditation drives a truth to the heart.”

Don’t avoid meditation simply because of its tainted associations. You will hinder your own spiritual growth if you do. Practice meditation as God intended you to. Meditate on his word day and night. Read it, process it, reflect on it, think on it, and apply it.

Photo by Michael Krahn on Unsplash

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Michael Krahn is the Lead Pastor of the EMMC church in Aylmer, Ontario, where he has served for the last 13 years. He has been married to Anne Marie for 27 years and together they have three daughters (19,18,16). You can find more of Michael’s writing at www.michaelkrahn.com or connect on social media at @Michael_G_Krahn (Twitter), pastor.michael.krahn (IG), and Michael.George.Krahn (Fb)

The Struggling Pastor’s Best Friend, Why Are Teenagers So Sad and Anxious?, and High Praise for Songwriter Mark Heard – Points of Interest for August 15, 2022

John Calvin: The Struggling Pastor’s Best Friend

“Since unceasing spiritual battle is the reality of ministry, all who would be pastors “should carefully consider with themselves, whether or not they were able to bear so heavy a burden.” Ministry will always be filled with difficulties and sufferings, so the frank assessment of one’s ability to bear those difficulties is an essential part of examining one’s call to ministry.”

“Pastors who look to the love of Christ will be enabled to forget their comforts and reputations and be able to persevere in a work that so often costs them those comforts and reputations.”

Why Are American Teenagers So Sad and Anxious?

“Kids need millions of experiences of conflict, getting lost, struggling with something, failing in a low-stakes environment. That’s what play is all about, play is what develops our brain. But what we did beginning around 2009 was we put all of our kids on experience blockers.”

Mark Heard: Treasure of the Broken Land

I quite enjoyed this essay on one of my favourite songwriters, the late Mark Heard. I made a playlist of some of my favourite songs. Have a listen.

“Heard’s reputation is built primarily on his last three albums. That’s where his poetic promise flowered and he finally shook loose of the Christian music industry that had never wanted much to do with him anyway.”

Pray for the foothills
Home to the drones of power lines and rock doves
Mountains gray as velvet
Field for dots of yucca, white with jacarandas
Facing the sky as the day burns away is a desert in mourning
Sheltering the dead stones
Cradle of the lost bones
Home of eternal comings and goings
(“Another Day in Limbo”)

“When an artist dies in his prime, the temptation is to mourn the art he never had a chance to make. And that’s doubly true for Heard, who’d really come into his own as a singer and songwriter only a few years before he died. But we should be thankful for the music he left behind…Heard’s work will stand the test of time, I am sure, even if only a few thousand people ever hear it.”

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Michael Krahn is the Lead Pastor of the EMMC church in Aylmer, Ontario, where he has served for the last 13 years. He has been married to Anne Marie for 27 years and together they have three daughters (19,18,16). You can find more of Michael’s writing at www.michaelkrahn.com or connect on social media at @Michael_G_Krahn (Twitter), pastor.michael.krahn (IG), and Michael.George.Krahn (Fb)

Books Worth Reading: “Present Shock – When Everything Happens Now”

“Our society has reoriented itself to the present moment. Everything is live, real time, and always-on. It’s not a mere speeding up, however much our lifestyles and technologies have accelerated the rate at which we attempt to do things. It’s more of a diminishment of anything that isn’t happening right now—and the onslaught of everything that supposedly is.”

― Douglas Rushkoff, Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now