Lead with Led

February 20, 2018 Justin Peter Gudel

“The church doesn’t need more pastors.  It might need better pastors, but what it truly needs is engaged people.”


Let’s be

honest.  I’ve been a Christian for basically my whole life.  That title/membership has meant different things to me at different moments in my life.  I’ve been in and out of churches, and have as many have, lapsed in attendance when life was busy, or I had the freedom to be lazy.  I also did the whole church working gig for about a decade.  

I’ve had numerous people ask me, “Why don’t you go to the seminary?”  My brain translates that inquiry into, “You should go to the sem.”  In my flavor of Christianity, the seminary is where you go to become a pastor.  It’s a campus, just like any college campus, with large swaths of green-space and brick buildings dedicated to higher education.  It’s where you get your stamp of approval and a Master’s of Divinity, assuming that you’ve already achieved your bachelor’s.  Every time the question creeps up, I respond with the same answer.

“The church doesn’t need more pastors.  It might need better pastors, but what it truly needs is engaged people.”

My point here is that I don’t have to be a pastor to make the right type of impact targeted to the very spots where we need it.  Instead, what I desire to do, is to find ways of lifting up more DIY Christians. 

When I talk about DIY Christians (a phrase new to the zeitgeist), what I’m trying to describe is a type of person who recognizes that they have access and the ability to do Christianity.  Just like the original punk scene, their members did their own music, fashion, and culture.  They saw this thing that they could be part of, and they made it happen.

It’s about embracing identity.

A quick side note, I’m not encouraging a brand of Christianity where individuals pick and choose which doctrines they want to believe in while discarding the rest.  

Instead, here are the first three posts of the DIY as I have defined it.  Next week I’ll write about the fifth of the five.  

DIY Christians have/are:

Liberated for the sake of Liberty

Pushers of Peace

Embrace Failure

The fourth, Lead by Led (is today’s post).

For the last six years, I have been a part of the local game store scene in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  At the start, my HQ was a tiny store named White Knight.  In what might be considered a less than a desirable strip mall, the entrance of the shop was flanked by overflowing ashtrays.  

It was at this basecamp that I was brought into the fold of a somewhat unusual demographic with a high density of dechurched (the people who have left the church).  During my time spent there, I’d regularly and casually let slip that I was a youth minister.  To the ears of this club, they heard “pastor.”

I don’t remember starting any conversations about religion or faith.  Still, as time went by, as the regulars got to know me, they would approach me.  Sometimes they would ask questions.  I theften got stories about their childhood growing up in a church, often fraught with perilous deeds and bigoted people—the reasons they left.

Occasionally, in the quiet moments, when it was just me and one other, they’d confess that they needed/missed something from that prior life.

Lead by Led.  There are several ways of going about this, but the first is to just be visible while being an honest and earnest and above all—good human being.  There is a reason your mom told you, “Actions speak louder than words.”

But that’s out in the world.  What about in the church?  Well, being seen out in the world, talking to people, loving them, and listening to them shows indoor believers that they too can be a pusher of peace in everyday interactions.  It gives them the challenge to be more than a Sunday attendee.

And for the DIY, an apostle and early church leader wrote a reminder of who our example is:

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.

That is, Jesus is the person we should model ourselves after.  He’s an example of being humble and loving.  He never thought it was below himself, to spend time with those who needed Him.

I should have started this post just talking about that.  Instead, I shared a story about myself.  I apologize.  PunkChiridion is not about Justin.

But I did it for a reason.  The world needs to see that Christians are real, rational, and down to earth.  They need examples of Christians in the light of day, not in ivory towers, or riding on high horses.  So I spent some of my time playing geeky board games.  I competed in the big daddy of all competitive card games, Magic the Gathering.  I made friends.

Where in your life are you rubbing shoulders?  Where do people see you at your best?

How do you say something without being preachy?  

I say you do that without words, but in actions—in living.