The Unpolished Preacher, The Imperfect Church

I walked out of the 10:30 AM service Sunday morning.  About to head home.  After buttonholing the preacher.  Told Pastor Ryan why I visited Grace Redeeming Church.  Told him about my desire to enroll his support for a one-time event.  Told him that I was promoting personal discipleship.  Wanted to offer the kind of opportunity that I took last year to travel to Tanzania.  That was where I traveled to help one or more individuals attain a higher level of self-sufficiency.


Actually, I visited the same church last week.  Heard the same preacher.  Visited this week, because the home church decided to share its worship service during the summer. . . . with a displaced start-up church located on the nearby Christian college campus.  This week the home church pastor should have preached.  At least, according to the sharing arrangement that I learned of the prior week.  Didn’t happen.  Pastor Ryan intended to begin a two week vacation the next day.  Pastor Al conceded a swap with Pastor Ryan.  Pastor Al, the home church preacher.  He’ll preach two weeks in a row now.


When I walked out, I noticed a large black trailer parked in the corner.  Big sign plastered its broad side.  Said, “Freedom Church Denver”.  Odd.  Already two churches sharing the same church building.  Neither one offered the name, Freedom Church Denver.  A third?  The sign said, 5:00 PM.


I walked back in.  Talked to Larry, Pastor Al’s brother-in-law.  Gave me the scoop.  Yup, a third church.


Pastor Al’s a generous guy.  Figures an empty church building can welcome as many churches as might have a need.  No monopoly on the gospel.  No hogging space that someone else could use.  Understands varying loyalties.  Understands that he’s not the only preacher that need occupy his home-church pulpit.  Incredible Christian!  Kind of crazy to call a preacher an incredible Christian.  Aren’t they all?  Incredible I mean?  (Not crazy.  Or, maybe just a little bit.  The good kind of crazy, if at all.)


Showed up again at 4:50 PM.  Same sanctuary.  Different people.  Met this friendly guy in the lobby.  Couldn’t have avoided him, if I tried.  Didn’t want to avoid him, anyway.  Seemed like a good hand-shaker.  He was.  Told me he was the pastor.  (I already knew that.  Had looked his church up on the internet.  Already knew what he looked like.)


I ‘fessed up, right away.  Told him why I was there.  Personal discipleship.  My new career, my latest passion.  He actually took an immediate interest.  “Really?” he asked.  I crammed about as much as I could cram into the ten minutes before the service started.  Traded contact info.  Established a chemistry of passion for shared discipleship.  Connected, I thought.


I walked into the sanctuary.  Somebody had roped off the rear rows.  A good thing.  As the service started, the stage held three musicians and a glass-encaged drummer.  They sang full-throated.  Displayed their passion with body language.  Preached a mini-gospel message through songs I never heard before.  Just like some of the bigger, young people’s churches I recently visited, they ministered as much as the main guy.


I became parishioner number 5.  Two congregants in front of me, two on the other side of the aisle.  We could have tried to out-throat the stage singers, but it wouldn’t have been fair.  They had the mics.  They also had the instruments.  I couldn’t even hear myself sing, let alone the other audience members.  Just as well.  My singing generally disgraces most any song.  ‘Cept when I’m in the shower.


The pastor walked in, a young guy, mid thirties, sat in the front with his wife.  Obviously got into the music right off.  Laura, too.  His pretty half.  More “kids” came in.  All about in their 20’s.  Except one more mature young lady, about my age.  She sat on the other side.  White hair.  Not a kid.  Not any more, at least.  Later found out, that was Laura’s mother.  From Dallas.  That’s where Pastor Kolt and Laura hale from.  They just moved to Denver about two years ago.  Launched Freedom Church Denver last October.  Thank goodness for Pastor Al!


I might not have fit in, were it not for Laura’s mother.  A generational gap, for sure.  But, besides the immediate connection that seemed to emerge from that first firm handshake, another thing indicated that my presence wasn’t completely out of line.  The trailer sign.  The website home page.  They said, “No perfect people allowed!”  OK, I fit right in.


Kolt preached all about Elisha’s calling.  Elijah stopped by while Elisha plowed the field.  Elisha must have been fairly well-off.  Owned his own significant team of oxen.  The yokes.  The land.  Probably a home.  Elijah told him he needed a protégé.  Must have impressed Elisha, ‘cuz Elisha only needed to say goodbye to his folks.  Then he burned the yokes, slaughtered the oxen, held a feast for the neighbors and town’s people.  Left everything behind, and followed Elijah.  Committed to watching and learning from Elijah.  Surrendered his life to that of a prophet and to God.  Developed the faith of Elijah.  Kolt said he even performed all the same miracles that Elijah performed, and more.


Per Kolt, we should take a lesson.  Burn the plows.  Become a disciple through watching and learning from ones who come before.  Dedicate yourself to God’s purpose.  Completely.  Good thing you already know that I’m not perfect!


Kolt represents the most genuinely passionate preacher that I’ve met over the last month or two.  Can’t be sure, but his passion for personal discipleship displayed itself more quickly than I’ve observed in others.  Not a judgment about other pastors.  Just a first impression, as it registered with the 8 or 10 that I’ve met, each for the first time.


He and I agreed to meet again.  Well, we already did.  Monday.  Yeah, the Monday immediately after Sunday.  Spent 3 or 4 hours trading stories, passions, confessions, and desires.  I decided I want to help him get his church started.  I think he decided he wants to help me obtain my venue and opportunity event.  Maybe we can help each other.


When Kolt preached, he preached personal discipleship.  Must have stolen my notes, my script.  Said all the things that are already recorded in my mental playbook.  When he preached, his passion poured out again, just like when we first talked.  He could hardly hold his emotions in.


As a public speaker, he displayed raw talent.  Raw, meaning he needs more practice.  Talent, meaning the Spirit works through him.  God blessed him with ability.  Probably like his father, the preacher that came before him.  He represents an unpolished disciple or apostle.  Probably a lot like the apostle Peter, or any of the other twelve.  Probably like Elisha, just starting out.  Probably just like any other imperfect Christian.  (As a former Toastmaster club member, I automatically evaluate public speakers, counting the “ah’s”, the double-clutches, the unplanned hesitations, the obvious searches for the right word.)


Kolt knows where he stands.  On Monday, before I could tell him anything about myself, he volunteered his own history.  Of growing up as a preacher’s kid.  Of dropping out of the Bible college that his grandfather oversaw and started.  Of getting into drugs, bad company, and depression.  Of watching his father morally disgrace himself, and hence his family.  Of hitting a bottom from which he figured out he needn’t dig deeper, from where he needed to climb out.


Laura sprung from a good family.  Decent.  Proper.  God-fearing.  Laura didn’t stray.


I asked Kolt why she gave him a chance.  Kolt shrugged.  Didn’t know.  Probably shouldn’t have, based on obvious evidence.  But she helped pull him out of it.  Convinced her family skeptics that his true character lay not in the youthful wildness of a picked-on preacher’s kid.  She insisted that his true character push aside the aberrant tangent whose misdirected immaturity masked the Christian spirit that he learned, growing up.  She pulled him out of the funk.  She rescued him.  She leveled with him, partnered with him, and ended up marrying-up.  Haven’t we guys pretty much been rescued the same?  But some of us don’t clean up.  I believe Kolt did.


We started talking about what we might do together, at least from an event planning standpoint.  I’ve got some ideas.  He appears to lead his own disciples who may be able to pitch ideas.  I met Jason, the sound and lights guy who managed these things.  He also moved from Dallas.  Like Kolt, felt called to follow.  The small congregant contingent appears to have joined his discipleship following.  I couldn’t join them after the evening service when they all went out for supper together.  Maybe another Sunday evening.  But, there appears to be a core group.


The church building that they use owns the field immediately to the south of it.  Down the street, about a block or so, Jackson Park, holds a baseball field and an outfield that needs no fencing.  Kids play football there, also.  Either field could provide a venue for an outdoor personal discipleship event.  Something that;

  • emphasizes a life purpose,
  • powers a selflessness love inspired by The Spirit,
  • emphasises a love for one another that fleshes purpose into fulfillment, and
  • engages personal talents as investments on behalf of the Master that
    • risks failure and set-backs but
    • maintains consistency of purpose beyond the blindness that accompanies occasional frustration.


We’ll see.  Whatever we do, if we do it, we will do it with planning and a shared sense of purpose.  We will ground our efforts in a common sense context of wanting to help engage talents on behalf of the Master, and to grow His community of believers.  We will try to demonstrate the love that the apostle John noted was, is and is to be, Christ.


I met an unpolished preacher.  Maybe an unpolished gem!  He met an unpolished discipleship salesman.  Good thing he’s not looking for perfection!  “No perfect people allowed!”  I guess I fit right in.


Maybe, we’ll fit in an imperfect discipleship event.  Or two.



July 18, 2018



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