6 – How to Attend Church

Tim Storm and Michael DeGroat are joined by Brad McKerley, Associate Executive Pastor at Christ Chapel Bible Church to talk about how we, as guys, can do church better. The importance of serving, avoiding a “consumer” approach to church, and much more are all on the table in this episode.

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Transcript of the Episode

Tim: Welcome to the Ironcenturion, a Christ-centered adventure into leadership, manliness, and brotherhood. Tonight, we’re going to talk about something that’s kind of pressing on our hearts in terms of things that we’ve wanted to talk to our audience about. That’s the very important topic of how does a man attend church? Whether you’re single, married, or you’ve got kids or no kids, it’s a very important thing. It’s a really important part of our own spiritual growth and development is to be in the discipline of being a church member. I think oftentimes it’s kind of a secondary thought of, well it’s Sunday morning and we’re just going to get in the car and go. I think we can definitely explore some areas of how we are going to be more intentional about that process and some of the things that are going on in that space.

So, Michael, one of the guys I wanted to introduce to you is Dr. Brad McKerley who’s a pastor at my church and I believe his official title is the Associate Executive Pastor at Christ Chapel Bible Church in Fort Worth, Texas. I’ll probably let him talk a little bit more about what that exactly means because it’s complicated, but the reason we got connected in the first place, even as his Lance Cashion who is, as you remember a previous guest on our podcast connecting me with him because Brad is all about leadership development. I think he and I have hit it off really well just talking about ways that we can be engaged in getting men to develop as leaders, both in Ironcenturion and also me as a member of a church in ways that I can be involved in a local congregation to do those things. 

So, I guess, without any further ado, welcome to Dr. Bread McKerley. You are a DTS graduate currently working at Christ Chapel Bible Church as the Associate Executive Pastor. We’ll talk to you in a few minutes about what that exactly means, but you’re a manly man and you like to do some cool stuff. You’re a triathlete. When we first met, we were out on the ranch. Lance Cashion’s ranch was a pretty cool time. So, thanks for joining us.

Brad: It’s great to be here.

Michael: Hi Brad, thanks for being with us this evening.

Brad: Michael. An absolute pleasure and I’m glad to join you guys.

Michael: So, what we’re talking about is this idea of how a man should think about the role of church in his life and how he should attend church and we thought the best way to do that is to have a professional Christian, a pastor come. Think about what does it look like in your mind. When somebody is coming to church, what are you hoping that is like and what are they thinking? What are they doing? How are they positioned as they do Sunday morning?

Brad: So, let me start with this. Definitely not a professional. I’m just a normal guy, a dad. In fact, my wife and I have been married. September will be 17 years. 

Michael: Awesome. 

Brad: We have a 14-year-old daughter who we think is going on 40 now mentally, and we have a 12-year-old son. So, if you were to see the McKerley house, you would definitely see that there’s nothing professional about who we are and what we do. But with that said as a guy, that’s been a believer just past 25 years ago that Christ saved me and have been in this journey of growing in Him. I was 17 when I recognized I was a sinner and Christ saved me. So, through that journey of older, high schooler then a single guy in college, single guy in seminary and then the Lord was gracious to give me a wife and then became a young husband. Then eventually God blessed us with kids and now a guy creeping into his forties. It’s been an interesting journey to walk through all those seasons. So, for me not just as a pastor, but as a man that’s a believer I want to see guys get connected with the body of Christ. So, however, the church can help that, however, we can help guys to do that wherever they’re at in their walk, I think is really important.

Michael: That’s in part sort of your role at Christ Chapel. Tim mentioned you’re the Associate Executive Pastor. What does that mean?

Brad: So, yeah, let me unpack that a little bit. So, my role has a couple of different caveats to it. Our church has three different campuses. I’m helping with hiring and some development with some of our staff recruiting. On the other side of that, about a year, year and a half ago I started working with leadership development with our staff, but in particular, how do we, as Ephesians 4:11 and 12 says, “How do we equip the saints for the work of ministry?” So, looking at how, how our staff can equip our people because we have an incredible army of people in our church that are gifted, that are passionate to serve. So how are we going to equip them not only for our church to be used, their gifts used within the church but also outside? So, that part and then recently I began serving with and helping our staff that oversee children and all the way up to high school at our three campuses. So, I kind of oversee that area also.

Tim: So, you’re the perfect person to press to talk to them about this. This is what you’re thinking about a lot.

Brad: It is a lot. Yeah, absolutely, and in particular, we talk now more recently because this was added. It is not just how do we give kids a great experience on Sunday morning where they hear the word of God, and they have an engaging kind of connecting experience or in student ministry. How are they connecting in community and hearing who God is? but now how are we connecting with families? How are we ministering to mom and dad or mom, or maybe just dad? So, seeing more of a holistic approach to how we’re reaching the family and equipping the family.

Tim: So, one of the things that we’ve been thinking about is let’s just take a guy, let’s say they’re in their mid-thirties, have a young family, and they’re headed to church in the morning on a Sunday morning. I think everyone has a stereotypical idea of what that looks like is pack the minivan full. I mean, you’ve got Cheerios dribbling off your toddler and everybody tries to put on a happy face while walking through the door, even though there was maybe a small, minor fight that happened in the minivan on the way to church. So, we all know that’s kind of the wrong way probably to step into those doors on Sunday morning. What are some alternatives? What should you guys be thinking about in a proactive manner in ways that they can be, I guess, proactive about approaching church with a better heart on Sunday morning?

Brad: Yeah. Tim, when you say that, I think I realize that Monday through Friday in most homes it’s typical that the dad leaves early in the morning and so mom is getting up child one, child two, and child three, and they’re kind of dragging along to get them to school or to a school bus. So, Sunday is really the day for the first time that the family has to all get-up and get ready and go somewhere together. So, it’s not a normal rhythm for them to be in. So, I think part of it is I think it begins Saturday night and planning and preparing. Okay. This sounds so simple, but it’s let’s get our clothes laid out. What time are we waking up? Because if it is a priority, let’s start setting that emotion the night before.

I think in the few times because I work on staff at a church, I’m usually driving separately and getting there early. But the few times that our family has gone to church together, I think dad has the ability to set the direction or the tone or the temperature. A lot of times it’s dad getting frustrated with mom or with the child. So, I think dad checking his heart and leading in a way that is helpful for his family. To be honest with you I’m guilty of this. A lot is I know I’m driving so mom you’ve got to get the kids fed, you’ve got to get the kids ready. So, I think dad even stepping in and saying, all right, how can I help so that when we get in the car, I’m not frustrated already because we’re running late, or hair’s not done, or something like that. So, with that…

Tim: And your wife isn’t frustrated either.

Brad: That’s true. So, I think the posture of a dad and you’ll probably hear me say this a lot. Really this is the core of leadership I believe in Philippians chapter two a leader is a servant. So, you guys and kind of your core values is a leader follows first. So, it’s that mindset of, as I follow Christ and Christ said, if you want to follow me you’ve got to serve. So, I think having that posture and that mindset is so important. So, those would be some of the things I think that’s important. I think there’s some logistical, I like to use the word strategy. There’s some planning but there’s also a posture in there too of saying, okay, this is a priority, so I need to be prayed up, but I also need to have that heart of a servant.

Tim: What are some ways you think dads could maybe take some practical steps too, I mean, maybe even before the family wakes up to work on that posture. What are some suggestions there?

Brad: I think dad spending time alone in the morning with the Lord getting prayed up. For me, it’s imperative every day to say, okay, Lord, how’s my heart before you? Really, as a dad is getting great to lead his family into worship. Now they might be splitting up. Kids might be going there class, but dad has an incredible opportunity, even on the ride over to begin preparing his kids for, hey, we’re going to hear from God’s word today. We’re going to get to sing to him. So, by praying and by getting that posture saying, okay, God help my heart to be right because I get to lead my family even on the drive over in what we talk about and preparing them for what they’re going to experience for that day.

Michael: This is actually interesting. I hadn’t thought about this before, but this is bringing to memory some of the things that happened in my house as I was a kid. I am now realizing that I took for granted. But my father, I know he was up early and spent time in prayer and scripture on mornings, on Sundays before we were even up and going. I realize that now because I stumbled upon that a few times and I could tell that it was his habit. It was a custom for him. Then the other thing I’m realizing is he was physically ready for church before anybody else meaning he was dressed and ready to go long before lots of other stuff started to happen, which meant, and now I’m realizing it, I guess I just didn’t as a kid. 

He was able to be able to engage in helping others get ready or deal with emergencies that come up or when the Lucky Charms got spilled, he was able to respond to that because all his stuff was already done. He was up and ready and dressed to go well before anybody else was and so then he was able to be an agent acting on situations every morning on Sundays instead of just reacting to them. Our family often was at church earlier than most. My family would help unlock the building or get the church started many mornings as a kid growing up, so we still had to be there early, and he was even ahead of that within our household.

Tim: It makes me think of that scene from “We Were Soldiers” when Hal Moore shows up to the bus station before everybody else gets there and he’s just standing there with his bags ready to go to Vietnam, just like that.

Michael: Yes. Church is like Saigon.

Brad: So, Michael, when you said that I wanted to ask, the experience of as a child seeing your dad and the routine and the rhythm he had, do you think that has shaped who you are today?

Michael: I mean, I don’t know that I was even consciously aware of it until recently, maybe even now fully, but I’m sure that it has had an impact. I’m sure that it made Sunday mornings more meaningful or less stressful or more engaged. I know that church was always a pleasant experience for me as a kid. Going to church was a good thing. I got to see friends. I was part of community and connection. I enjoyed learning and then pretty soon I was in service and so there was some level of responsibility for me as I was growing up. So, I’m sure the answer is yes, but it was covert instead of overt his influence on my church experience. I feel like I caught a lot more from him than he may be taught me directly with words. Does that make sense? He created a culture that I just decided was normal and so I was formed by that culture.

Brad: Yeah. That’s great. That makes complete sense.

Tim: So, Michael, you brought up something interesting. You mentioned the community piece and we’ve talked about so far on the episode just the Sunday morning aspect of it. We say that colloquially. Is that a word? 

Brad: It works for me.

Tim: We’re going to roll with it. But really the church is so much more than just a Sunday morning experience. As men and as leaders, we should be engaged in the church as a community member, not just as a pew warmer. So, Brad from a community standpoint, because I know you’ve briefly touched on that so far too. Can you expand on that a little bit more? What does it look like for a man to be an active and engaged leader from that standpoint and engaging with his church as a community member?

Brad: Yeah. To me when we talk about community, that could mean a hundred different things for people. Somebody just watching church online could say, well, I’m a part of the community because I’m doing some service in a different state. Let me back up. I believe that that spiritual growth happens in the biblical community. It’s imperative and important, not just for somebody to come sit in a pew or partake of a service. That’s something we have to be careful over in our culture is you want me to come sit, listen, and watch and receive instead of coming. Now, I’m coming to engage with a God that loves me. I’m coming to hear from His word, to understand better who He is so I can then go out of here on a mission for him. But then after that, there’s a need to connect in community.

So, I mean, there are tons of different ways that people could say, well, community could happen in a Sunday school class or a small group or whatever the term is. What I’ve seen incredible in my life that has been impactful for me and still connects with the guys today is back in my early thirties I was at a church, and we had this small group. It was actually couples that met but ever so often the wives would meet together, and the husbands would meet together. It was a great time because the guys could get together and talk about, hey, here are some things I’m struggling with. 

We could encourage each other in prayer and in the word but then we could also do really fun cool things. Monday nights, we would go have wings. We were slightly adventurous, so we did everything from adventure races, like Tough Mudder, and played golf. There’s also still a fantasy football league. So, we just were texting the other day with some of them just saying, hey, praying for this. So, to me, when I think community, I think that is something that not just saying, hey, I’m a part of a church, but I’m a part of a community within a local church, I think is imperative.

Tim: I’m going to say to deeply know others and to be known. You can’t really do that fully by watching a service online for example.

Brad: I would say once you deeply know somebody, it may take six months, a year. It gives you then the opportunity to open up and share, hey, here’s what’s going on in my life. So, there’s accountability. There’s a sense of, in a word we don’t always use, a sense of being able to be vulnerable and share what’s going on. That’s how God can use community and an incredible way to help you become more like His Son.

Tim: Yeah. What you’re talking about Brad, there’s definitely a sense of initiative that men have to show in order to engage. That’s not something that you walk into in Sunday morning, and someone says, hey, come join Friday night wing night or whatever. That never happens. So, there’s a sense of initiative that has to happen there in the sense that men have to go out and pursue this community. So, take advantage of the small groups the church offers or the Bible studies that the church offers. Whatever that is, the outlets that your church has for you to pursue those communities. It’s our responsibility as men to seek those out. 

Brad: Yeah, and I would add, this is going to sound very pastor-esque when I say this, but in those situations, you talked about pursuing. Before that I would say begin, and here’s the pastor part. Begin praying. So, there are two Ps. If we can get one more, we’ll have three. But in all seriousness begin praying. Say, okay God, I need community. God, I know this is something that is good, and you desire in my life. So, God gives me wisdom, brings people into my life that here as I look lead me to a group that I can connect with that I can help others in their journey with you, but you can also use in my life. So, I think that’s important where we can then be relying on God and allowing God to shape and move that.

Tim: Yeah, and I can look at a time back probably about five years ago when Ironcenturion was pretty new, and my closest friends were the guys that started the ministry with me, and we were spread out across Texas. So, it was a really difficult place. I mean, yes, I had my close friends, and we were doing something cool together, but we were not physically together. That was really difficult for me because it wasn’t like I could just call Michael up and be like, hey, what are you doing tonight? Let’s go out and grab wings like you’re talking about. Through prayer and through you intentionally seeking out some of that community. You talking about God led me to a really great group here in Fort Worth that has helped meet that need of a physical presence in your life. So, I mean, I would definitely encourage guys if there is that gap that you feel in your life like things are going great. I’m just missing this part because God intended us to have that friendship and that fulfillment through community as part of our walk with Him.

Michael: But I’d like to ask you about this analogy that’s been running around in my head. I just want your thoughts to it. I’ve been chewing on this, but it seems to me that if a bunch of people comes to church with the idea, the concept of church is going to fill me up for the week. It’s going to be the refueling of my tank so that I’m able to make it through the week. It’s my fill-up stop. So, you had a bunch of people all in the room, all with their hands out saying, please, sir, can I have some more? Then what you have is a bunch of people that all leave empty because there’s nobody there to put into them except for maybe the professionals on staff at the church who then they leave on Sunday, just completely drained because they were surrounded by hundreds, thousands maybe of people just all trying to take and needing stuff.

But instead, if everyone came to church on Sunday already filled up some spiritually because they spent some time in prayer and solitude scripture and they came with the idea, the focus of, I want to give to someone else. If everyone did that, everyone came and gave then what would happen is everyone would leave having received something from someone which would be a blessing to them but also not having drained anybody. So, I don’t know, maybe it’s a perfect communistic view of what church could look like but what do you think about that analogy? Is that a concept that’s helpful and what can we think from that? 

Brad: Yeah. So, what I want to be careful with that is, I mean, if you were to look at my life for the last seven days there are probably one or two days I woke up and had not a great day. So, I was something. I was tired, whatever. The way I look at that for people coming in on a Sunday morning is somebody could have had a really rough week. They found out they’re losing their job. So, no matter where they’re at spiritually, so we’re not even talking about whether they’re newborn babes and just need the word, or they’re very spiritually mature. They’ve been walking with Christ for a long time. So, when we think about the church experience, I’m also processing how people are coming in and what they’ve experienced for that week. So, how do we minister to them?

Now, I do think if you’re talking about the mindset of a lot of people coming in, it’s more, hey, I’m coming in to be fed in. I do think that’s part of it, but I think we need to put something before that. That’s not the priority. It’s I’m here to meet with God, but corporately and I think the distinction is if we equip people to feed themselves and spend time with God every day, Sunday just becomes almost his amplified version of going well, man, I get to hear God’s word with people. I get to seeing corporately with people. So, I look at that as again, when we talked about a family getting ready for church on a Sunday morning, I look at that like, how do we prepare for corporate worship? I think it begins Monday, Tuesday, and it doesn’t have to be in the morning, but Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, ready for this and Sunday preparing our hearts because we’ve spent that with God individually now, we’re getting to do that corporately. Hopefully, that makes sense.

Michael: Yeah. Okay, that’s actually helpful because then you also mentioned the idea of different life experiences that people are coming in through from the week. So, they’re losing their job. Somebody in their family’s terribly sick. Somebody has passed away or on the other side of the coin, they just got a promotion and they’re really excited about that. So, there’s a whole bunch of different ranges of emotional places people could be coming from. But then you also mentioned different spiritual maturity growth places and so are there different? I mean, I guess there has to be. What are the different ways that people may experience church on a Sunday based on maybe different spiritual maturity levels? Does that make sense? 

Tim: Are you getting at what are some, not expectations, but what are some ways that men can be actively engaged in different stages of their spiritual growth in the church?

Michael: Yeah, I think that’s a great way of saying it. 

Brad: Yeah. So, talking to guys out there whether you’re single, whether you’re married, or whether you have children. Again, you may not have a lot of Bible background, or you may go, hey Brad, I’ve been a believer for a long time. I know God’s word. I’m on a mission for God right now. I think for anyone initially coming in, I think it really is simply coming in, going I today, I’m going here, and hopefully, you’re a part of a church that preaches God’s word. If not, let me encourage you to get connected with a church that preaches the Bible. I know that’s broad, but that would be going into a place to worship with other believers and connect with a God. So, for me, as I think through a Sunday morning for anyone and everyone, I think it starts there. 

Now I can get very specific. I think another part with the Sunday morning experience is looking at going, okay, God, how can I serve my church? So, when we talk about every day, I’ve been filled with who God is. How can I serve within my local church? I think that is what I’ve seen when we talk about my role. Part of the thing I’ve seen in churches across the US, I’ve been a pastor in Florida, been a pastor just outside of Philadelphia, and now in Fort Worth is we’ve done this thing where once a mom and a dad have a child, we say, hey, just, just go sit. It’s rough on you. What we see is all the way up to high school they turn more consumers than they are fully engaged in the life of the church. Moms and dads with young children all the way up to high school they’re gifted, they’re passionate about things. We need to use them. I don’t mean using a bad way, but we need them. 

Tim: For the body of Christ.

Brad: Absolutely. So, it’s this, hey, I’m coming to church, I’ve dropped my kids off. They’re in childcare. Now, this is for me because all week I’ve been busy. So, one of the things is thinking, how do we get people to serve in the church, and absolutely how do we get them to start thinking and praying how do you serve outside? But there are 52 Sundays a year so how do we get them not just on Sundays, but maybe in ministries and that sort of thing. I think for any guy out there, whether you’re single, married with children, how can you engage your family? One of the things we did, and I’ll just share this real quick story. We initially were at a church in central Florida, a high retirement area. So, when my kids were six and four, they were door greeters. That was our ministry as a family. 

So again, I’m on staff, but I have this weird philosophy, even though I’m on staff at a church, I still want to find an area to serve in my church. So, our kids on Sunday morning were greeters every week. So, we had two services, one service we would greet and one service they would go in their classroom, and we would go to corporate worship. So, I think for men to start thinking through, okay, how can I engage in serve if you’re a husband and a dad? Find ways for your family to serve. I tell you the coolest thing ever is to walk up to a church and see kids and a family greeting. Man, I mean as a family, that’s encouraging, but I think to even older saints, that’s also encouraging.

Tim: That’s helpful for me just the idea of looking for opportunities. Ultimately on the maturity curve, looking as you’re growing as a believer to be involved in serving it. I think there are lots of different ways you can do that. Meaning there’s, I don’t think that churches have lots of different ways regardless of where you are on your own spiritual growth curve. That doesn’t necessarily mean the church we see maybe as a pastor upfront. So, serving in church doesn’t miss. I mean, if you do the sermon on Sunday there’s door greeting and even stuff that kids can do. You can get your family involved and do that together.

Brad: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, now, listen, we’re talking to guys. This is an Ironcenturion podcast. So, let me say this. In my previous church, we started a safety and security team so if you’re passionate about keeping the church safe, and that is an important thing. Let me say, if you’re in a church that doesn’t have that find some churches in your area that do, talk to them. You can contact me, and I can connect you with some people at our church, but that is an incredible ministry. Just sheepdogs that are going to keep watch over the church. So, that is a ministry that even in our church in Florida, we had a heavy law enforcement presence. But we had guys and ladies that served in that ministry. So, there are so many different ways and areas to serve within your church. Let me mention one of the things I think is incredible about my church. We have very much of an entrepreneurial kind of mindset. So, there are people that say, hey, I have this passion out here outside of the church and we go, how can we help you? How can we equip you and how can we resource you to go do that ministry? So, however, God has worked…

Tim: That is the origin story of Ironcenturion. 

Brad: Is it really? I didn’t know that.

Michael: So, we can attest to it. That’s very true of Christ Chapel. Christ Chapel helped Ironcenturion get started early on and this and is still in many ways there are many people within Christ Chapel that help support Ironcenturion so yeah, that’s true. 

Brad: That’s great!

Tim: Brad, one of the things that we’ve got on our list here of things to mention is the mentality of a cruise ship and a battleship. Do you want to talk about that mentality really quickly? I mean, I think that’ll resonate with a lot of our guys as well. 

Brad: Yeah. Tim, you’re an army guy. Is that correct? 

Tim: Yeah.

Brad: Okay. 

Tim: I was.

Brad: So, well the term which we had in our previous church, an elder who flew Marine One in the nineties. So, his statement was, “Once a Marine, always a Marine.” So, let me start by saying grew up in Florida. My dad served in the Navy for 30 years. He retired as Master Chief. So, when you say cruise ship and battleship, I’ve actually been. Not on a battleship, but on an aircraft carrier. I think this was in the mid-eighties and I’ve been on a cruise ship. So, I’ve seen both, seen some incredible things for both of them. 

I want to make sure I’m saying this correctly because the church is not a building. The church is a people that God has called and saved. So, I would liken it more or to a battleship but more specifically I would say we’re an army of force that, that God is going to use, and he has a mission force laid out, Matthew 28:19 through 20. So, we’re on a mission for Him. The cruise ship mentality becomes well, we’re here to be served and make sure we have good entertainment, comfy seats and I would say that God has called us to do much more than that. The consumer mindset is really not biblical.

Tim: Absolutely. Yeah. I think of my time on a cruise ship and somebody wheeling their oxygen bottle up to the buffet table. It’s just like maybe that’s not what we want to be part of our church experience, this mentality of we just show up on Sundays and we leave and that’s that. I mean, there’s very much a purpose especially as men, as leaders of our families, we need to be instilling into our families. Like you mentioned, Brad, not only just with us and our wives, but our children as well. They’re a part of the Body of Christ if they’re saved in Christ and they have a purpose in the church just like mommy and daddy do. 

Brad: Yeah. Well, I think beyond that. This is something for dads if you have small kids. I think this is something when we talk about the mission of God and what God’s called us to do and to be. One of the things we’ve done with our kids when they were elementary age was all right, how can our kids serve outside of the church, but even be on mission for God. So, in the neighborhood we lived in, we had a number of people that we knew that were not believers. So, what we committed to as a family is, hey, let’s pray for those people and so we had our kids praying for them and we said, hey, anytime we see them, let’s show God’s love to them. So, that’s at a young age teaching them how important prayer is and that it’s God who saves. But it’s teaching them to be light and salt to those people. So, at a young age, our kids were understanding here’s the mission. Here’s how we accomplish the mission. So, it’s laying out clear steps and plans for them to, as you guys say, love deeply those people in a relationship.

Michael: So, that’s then the full comparison of the cruise ship versus the battleship because they’re both boats. They both go to places with people on them, but the cruise ship’s purpose is for the comfort enjoyment, entertainment of those who are on the boat. So, then it goes to easy places, comfortable places, and its inward serving. A battleship while still loaded with people and still traveling around goes to difficult places, goes to hard places, uncomfortable places with a mission that is outside the ship. But there are still resources inside to serve those that are on the ship. It still has a galley and still feeds people but it’s for the service of the mission and not for the purpose of eating at a floating restaurant. 

Brad: Yeah. Well, here’s a beautiful picture. If we go with the aircraft carrier. so, please…

Michael: Because that’s what you’ve been on. Yes, yes, sure. 

Brad: And the beautiful thing about aircraft carriers is you’ll have planes take off and helicopters take off. So, it becomes this place that launches or sends people out on a mission. So, some might be going this way or this way depending on what you’re doing. So, I mean, boats can take off, little skiffs can take off from it. So, I think the beauty of seeing the church as a place for God’s people to gather, to equip them, to resource them but to have them go where God’s calling them to be at, I think if we’re just sitting and then we’re drinking by the pool and eating too much at the buffet, that’s not what God’s calling us to do or be.

Michael: So okay. While we’re on this topic is what God’s not calling us to do or be, because I don’t want this conversation for somebody listening to be a lot of shame. I don’t want them to feel like, oh gosh, they’re hitting all these checkboxes of all these things I do. I’m doing this whole thing wrong. Instead, the vibe should be calling them up to a best way or a better way to, do this and it’s not about the past. But I know of people, I know of families, and I’ve encountered them in the past where church is a lot like a buffet for them. Sometimes that means at that church. They’re at that church and they’re taking a little bit from this ministry and a little bit from over here and it’s kind of a smorgasbord of stuff and their kids are doing this. Their kids are in this programming and this thing or even take it one level further, they actually have multiple church organizations that they’re part of that they go for different things.

So, Wednesday night youth group is better over at this church. So, they take their kids there on Wednesdays. Then on Sundays, they really like this pastor but if he’s out of town, they have a second church just in case when he’s gone. Then they’ve got a growth ministry or a small group that’s run by another church. So, what happens is they have buffeted their church experience. They’re getting the full experience but they’re getting it from three or four churches. What are your thoughts on that, Brad? What would you say to somebody who’s experienced that or considering doing it that way?

Brad: I believe that God has called us to be committed to a community of believers and it’s not a marriage for better or worse. But I think it’s if God is calling me to be wholly, wholly meaning all of me, wholly committed. That means this is a place where I believe God has for me to submit to the leadership, to grow from God’s word, to connect with the community of believers, and to serve. So, I think understanding that mindset that listens, everything might not be perfect. I know many parents will say, well, the youth groups are good over here, so we’ll go to church there until my kid graduates. I think it just continues to breed the consumer mindset of churches for me. It’s what I want, and I haven’t seen that be healthy in a number of people that have done that long term.

Michael: The most extreme I’m thinking about one example. Here’s where it led because the youth group at one church was “better” whatever that means. That’s where their teenage daughter wanted to go. So, they started letting her go there Wednesday nights, but then that same group met on Sunday mornings and teenage daughter wanted to be with those group of friends. So, it ended up where every Sunday morning, the family went to three churches. 

Brad: Wow. 

Michael: The kids went over here, and the parents would drive them and drop them off. Mom went over here, and dad went to a separate church. So, they’re all at church on Sunday they’re just at three separate churches every week for a very long time. I was just like, wow, I don’t think anybody would look at that and go that great idea, but they’ve gotten themselves there over time and it’s just like, wow, that’s weird. That’s not healthy.

Brad: Yeah, absolutely.

Tim: Yeah. You brought up some mission to church leadership, Brad, and that was something I just want to briefly touch on. Yeah. I had a hard time about 18 months ago with the direction that, you know, some of the leadership was taking things at church with COVID policies. One of the really cool things that happened through that is that even in my disagreement of what was going on. I know there were a lot of people in different churches that were saying, if my church does X, Y, or Z, I’m going somewhere else. I could definitely see the draw to that because it’s like, well, this isn’t lining up with how I expect things to be going. 

But what was really an interesting lesson in church discipline for us going through that process was realizing we’ve been a part of this church for over 10 years. We’ve trusted the leadership of this church for over 10 years and now when we are suddenly faced with something that we, on an individual level don’t necessarily agree with are finding ourselves, It was really just an interesting heart thing that was going on at that point where we had to stop and take a step back and realize that this is what submission to the church means. If you’re committed at such a level where you can just walk away, and it doesn’t cost you anything. Yeah, that was just an interesting process for us to go through and it was really one of the first times where we as a family had to really consider and what the Bible’s talking about. What it means is that as part of a church body we’re supposed to submit to the church leadership.

Brad: Now in that process, was it somebody that brought that to light to you, or is that something you and your wife just realized, okay, man, God’s got a hold of our heart about this, and we need to change?

Tim: Well, I would love to say that I came to that conclusion on my own. That would make me sound very spiritual and mature, but as with most things, Lance Cashion was the one that…

Brad: Okay.

Tim: Hey, big dummy.

Brad: So again, that’s a great example because I didn’t know this story of guys that you’re in community with calling you out and saying hey, brother, I love you. But man, what you’re doing right now is off-target and we want you focused on what God has for you and this isn’t it. 

Tim: Yeah. It was interesting too when that whole process kind of came to a conclusion just the level of peace that we had about it. Even though that our opinions didn’t change on how we thought things should be dealt with. We just had a piece that we’re still in good hands. God is still in control even though we don’t see necessarily 100% eye to eye on how it’s being handled. That was a really good resolution for our family, for that process because it brought us to a deeper dependency on the Lord and I think, a more biblical understanding of how the church operates. 

Michael: Yeah, that’s interesting, the idea of being in submission to church authority but there are decisions that church authorities make that are not necessarily ones clearly laid out in scripture. Cellphone usage during Sunday church in the auditorium, for example. They could make a policy about that. That’s not in the Bible anywhere and so sometimes though they’re going to make the wrong decision or at least we’re going to think it’s the wrong decision and it may be the wrong decision, but we’re still called to be in submission to them. There may be something good winnowing that happens in our life as we are able to lay those non-essentials down and say, hey, you’re wrong, but I’m still in submission to you so I’m going to do it your way.

Brad: You know it’s funny is at lunch, Tim and I were talking about just the world we live in now with COVID and I had just come from a, a meeting talking about the impact of COVID in the workplace. So, Tim and I were just talking about what does that mean in a different workplace and just the reality of submitting to, even if it’s not in the church, submitting in a secular workplace of, hey, I might not agree with this but there are parts of this where I’ve got to submit. It’s not forcing me currently to do anything that is hard against my beliefs but going all right, I have to submit to that. So, it’s interesting how in the world we live in, within the church, outside of the church, there are things that we have to submit to that maybe we don’t always align completely with. So yeah, it’s fine.

Tim: I just read a book about the history of the city of Rome, not the country but the city but it was just still pretty interesting to think about different periods when there were Christians there and, in the history, book talking about some times when the governing authorities were pretty anti-Christians and sometimes very Pro-Christians but only for political purposes. The history of Rome is very fascinating of how it intertwined with Christianity in some good ways and some weird ways. That’s the people Paul was writing to at times saying submit to your governing authorities. They were not good people at the time when he was writing that, nor were they doing good things. 

Michael: Okay. So, Brad, would you unpack just a little bit. Maybe there’s a few different key spiritual growth seasons that people go through. I remember when I moved. I moved to a different city and went to a church. It was maybe the first or second time I’d been there. I remember talking with one of the greeting people. The new to our church, connect with us and talk with us about how you can connect more with the church or what we’re about. I was having a conversation with him, and I was coming off a season in my life where I had been very involved at church. I had been serving on a ministry team or two within church for many years, probably close to two decades at that point and I got there, and I was talking about how I could get connected and involved with that church. He said something to me that actually, I don’t know that I liked at the time but in hindsight, I actually think he was right.

He said, and I don’t even know how much of this he perceived to directly or intuited, but he just said, hey, this could be a season for you where you just need to take a break and simply attend church. That was so weird to me. I never just attended church. I decided to agree and take him up on it and for a brief season, I simply attended church.  I’d never really done that in life since I’d been a little kid. That was what I did need at the time. But I think that there are different life stages or spiritual growth stages where people maybe have some slightly different perspectives of what church may be like for them. Could you touch on that a little bit, or your thoughts about that?

Brad: Yeah, I think this is a good point now to go back because earlier I’d referenced serving in the church and I’d mentioned moms and dads the point where they have children all the way up to high school, not serving, but for the most part, just coming and sitting. What I want to say on the flip side of that are parents that have middle schoolers and high schoolers. It can be some of the busiest years of their lives and so the thing I think we have to be careful of in church world is overburdening the family with events and stuff and saying, hey dad, you’re going to be in a men’s group, but you’re also going to serve. Then you have to take your middle schooler here. Oh, and you’re in that point of your career where you’re really trying to climb the ladder so you’re going to put in 50 hours a week. So, all these expectations. 

I think at that point some a dad, a husband, and their wife have to process and say, okay, what is most important here? And I think they have to look at my personal time with the Lord. I think they have to say our family is a priority and then how do we engage in our church? So, when you talk about that guy, whether they’re single, married, or in retirement of going, they need to be daily spending time in God’s word and with him. But when it comes to church involvement, I think the bare minimum is they’re a part of corporate worship and getting connected in community. To me, I think getting those two pieces is paramount. From that, depending on the season they’re at spiritually. I think it’s healthy still to try to serve. If you’re going through a really hectic season, go, okay, I just need to back off. But finding ways to kind of use your gifts I think that’s part of spiritual growth. So, I think for each person it’s different, I think a lot of people will tend to say, yeah, I’d rather just not, I’d rather not because it’s easier to do that than to get fully engaged.

Tim: Brad, one thing I think is helpful in this scenario too is that sometimes our own internal perspective can just be skewed and flawed. This is where having an older man, that’s a few steps ahead of you can really be insightful. I know it has been my own life of saying look, this is maybe an opportunity for you guys when it was younger in our marriage. Maybe you guys start a small group together. But somebody that can look from the outside in and say, look, the season you’re going through is super difficult. Maybe this is a time to step back or conversely, hey, you guys, maybe this would be a good time for you to step in and do some more where you’re currently not. So, I know for me personally, that’s been very helpful to have someone that’s just a few steps down the road to point those things out.

Brad: Yeah. I’d mentioned earlier about the church I was at in Florida. At that point, we were in mid/late twenties, early thirties. I learned as a young guy, a young married guy initially than a young dad to seek out and I use that word intentionally. To seek out, not sit back and say, well, somebody’s going to come to me, but I think that’s important for guys to find a mentor or a guy that they can meet with and pour into. Here’s a really cool story I’ve got to share. There was a guy in our church in Florida. His name was Hal. Actually, if you want to look him up, Hal Urban. If you Google that and battle the bulge. Hal was a World War II vet and Hal served at this park conservatory area, was part of our church, and me and another buddy of mine didn’t know a lot of his story.

So, he would cut the grass at this place and just servant’s heart. We took him to McDonald’s. I think we spent $4 on the $1 cheeseburgers or whatever. We just listened to his story of being a young guy, serving our country over in Europe and I mean, the emotion as he shared his story of what he saw and experienced and he’s from the state, so it was really cold over there. But I mean, this is the mid-2000s and so that was 1940. So, it was 60 plus, 70 years ago, and just the emotion on his face. Seeing all he had been through and still fully committed to God and wanting to serve God. So, as a young guy going, and this guy served our country, and look where he is at now. He has still the heart of a servant. So, for me, it’s not just somebody that’s going to yes, spiritually, but get people around you that have experienced life and hear their story. I think that’s the beauty of community also. 

Tim: Absolutely.

Michael: Brad, you’ve talked a lot about getting involved and serving. There are more ways to serve in a church than you have time to do. So, we have to have a way of filtering serving opportunities. How would you suggest somebody, because I mean, if they actually asked? I’m sure if somebody came to you and said, Brad, I can serve in the church. What are the options that are currently open? There are security teams? There are greeting teams. There are children’s ministry teams. There is Wednesday night youth group stuff. There are tech teams and audio-visual stuff and a music worship team. So, there’s more stuff to say yes to, then you could say yes if you said yes to everything. So, how do you filter that?

Brad: Yeah, so I can use a great example. About six months ago, I was standing out in the foyer of our church and one of the children’s ministry volunteers came up and said, hey, we need you. We need you to volunteer. I’m like, okay. My first question was where? She said in the nursery. I said, excuse me, that is not a spiritual gift of mine. That’s not a passion of mine. Small children don’t work. But I said, okay. I really didn’t have a choice. I was volunteering. So, during that time in there and dealing with babies that are crawling and there was, of course, another volunteer in there that really handled things. I just was in the corner. I began to process man, maybe some guys of want to serve there. I did not.

It helped remind me, it’s important to know how you’re wired, how you’re gifted, what you’re passionate about because I really do believe all those things go together. I don’t think God has wired me or given me a passion to serve in the nursery. I’m very thankful for those people that do. So, for somebody coming in saying, hey, I’m passionate about this. I, I really want to do this. I think talking to some people at the church. If you’re in community, I think your community that you’re part of can speak into saying, hey Michael, man, I see this in you. You have a gifting for this or this. Maybe you should do that. So, even asking the input of people that know you fully and know you well I think that’s also important.

Michael: Okay. So, I heard you say places where you’re passionate, not as the only metric but that God gives us our passions on purpose. The community of others speaking into your life, and you may mention briefly spiritual gifting. Scripture talks about spiritual gifts. The gifts aren’t for us, it’s not a spiritual gift to me. It’s gifting God has given me so that I can give it to others. 

Brad: Yes. 

Michael: Of being in line potentially with some of those, I think that’s helpful. That means that I don’t have to feel guilty if I don’t say yes to every opportunity because there are ones, I can choose that maybe line up better with who I am.

Brad: Yeah. I mean, here’s a real quick point to the dads. I’m having my kids now who are in middle school and high school, explore how God has wired them and what that may look like for serving in the church. I want them to try things test things out. It really becomes a great testing field of going, hey, God has gifted you. How can you be a part of the church? Because you’re a pinky or a knee. You’re a part of the body so we need you to step up and step a place to serve. So, it’s been fun even as a dad. Currently, they’re serving in kindergarten with my wife, which is better than the nursery and they’re having fun in there.

Tim: That’s great. Well, Brad, thank you so much for joining us tonight. We’ve covered a lot of ground. I hope this was helpful for our listeners. I know it was good for me to kind of think through some of these things out loud with you and appreciate you coming on tonight and look forward to having you back sometime soon. 

Brad: Yeah, it was a pleasure. Thank you, guys.

Michael: Tim, I think that was a really good conversation with Brad. I know he’s a pastor at your church. So, thanks for helping make that happen and bringing him on so we could talk about this. I learned some stuff.

Tim: Absolutely. Yeah. Brad is a great resource and really has a heart for leadership development. So, I figured he’d be a good pick to interview on the podcast this evening. 

Michael: Yeah. I think you’re absolutely right. Yeah. You know, I’ve been thinking about it. You know I like to read books a lot.

Tim: You like to read a lot.

Michael: I do. I do. I enjoy that. Something I was thinking would be kind of cool is what if we read a book together. A virtual podcast book club. Pick something cool, read a book and then talk about it and discuss what we learned from it. I think that could be a lot of fun.

Tim: Absolutely. One of the things that, yeah, I think we’ve tried to do on this podcast is loop guys into conversations we’re having as a staff. One of the things actually that I’ve been thinking about reading is a book called “Ten Signs of a Leadership Crash.” I think I’ve mentioned it to you guys in the past in terms of just a book that I’ve read through that was very insightful. It was written by a guy named Steven Mansfield. I heard about him on The Art of Manliness podcast. Shout out to those guys because they’ve got some really cool content there. But essentially Mansfield was a pastor for 20 years and he’s an author now. I think he also runs a business. Probably business is not the right word but a consultancy agency that deals with high profile men primarily that have gone through some sort of leadership or moral failure. 

Michael: Oh, you told me about this several years ago.

Tim: Yes. he’s not just the PR guy, but he’s actually there to bring restoration to the situation. So, the book is from an interesting standpoint on his lessons learned from a lot of the high-profile cases he’s dealt with over the last, I think 10 years or so at the time the book was written. It talks about 10 signs that these men were going to fail and it’s an interesting book and it’s a short read too. I think you can read the whole book in an hour which I think will be music to a lot of our listeners’ ears. 

Michael: So, it’s kind of not a book, kind of a book, somewhere between a short story or an article and a book. 

Tim: Sure. Yeah. 

Michael: Okay. 

Tim: But definitely worth the read because it brings up some things that we should be aware of in our own lives, but also in the lives of our friends that we can start to notice and take notice of. It’s like, hey, that doesn’t look like it really belongs in your life before things go really bad. 

Michael: Okay. So, you’ve read this before. I haven’t read it, but you’ve read it. So, I should read it then and we should do an episode in the future where we would talk about it. Is that what we should do where we talk about what we learned from it?

Tim: Yeah. If you’re one of our listeners and you like to read our long books jump on this bandwagon. You can talk about it with us.

Michael: So, “Ten Signs of a Leadership Crash” by…

Tim: Stephen Mansfield.

Michael: Stephen Mansfield. Okay. We can put a link in the notes before people can find it and then they can get it and they can read it. Sometime in a future episode, we’ll talk through what we’ve learned from it.

Tim: Sounds great. 

Michael: Okay. Okay. I like that. That could be fun and if it works, maybe we make it a recurring theme and do some other books in the future, but we’ll see how this goes. All right. Well, speaking of listeners, I think we should say some thank yous. We do this for you and so if you’re listening to the podcast, I just want to say, thank you. You’re the reason that we do this podcast and we’re glad that you’re there. We’re glad you’re listening. We thank you. We don’t take lightly the honor or the responsibility to be a voice in your ear as you’re on your commute or as you are taking a run or as you’re listening to stuff at the end of the day. We know that you’ve got a lot of choices of what you listen to and thank you for choosing to listen to the podcast. We appreciate you and we do this for you. We also want to do this with you. So, we’ve got some social media presence. We’ve got the podcast at ironcenturion.org email address. Some of the emails that have received and just the comments, are really enjoyable because we want this to be a conversation with you. 

So, if we say something that you love or if we say something that you hate we want to know about it. We want you to send us an email. We want to talk about it. If you’ve got a topic, you’d like to hear us have a conversation about on the podcast, send us that too and who knows, maybe we’ll make it into an episode or part of one in the future. We want this to be a community. We’re talking about community and Christian Church community. We also want the podcast community with you to be an extension of our ministry fully and personally. So, send us a message we’d love to talk to you. All right. Well thanks for joining us on the Ironcenturion podcast, a Christ-centered adventure into leadership, manliness, and brotherhood. We’re glad that you were with us, and we’ll talk to you again soon.