I’ve been thinking a lot about what exactly my job description might look like after I step down from Scum of the Earth’s staff within a couple of years. At any rate, I am sure that I have heard from the Lord that Scum does not need a 65-year-old senior pastor. That will be my birthday in February, 2019. Until then, I am more than happy to serve this local body of believers that I’ve been a part of since its inception in the year 2000 – and I am excited to stay part of the congregation after that. One reason I know I’ve heard from the Lord is that I never would’ve come up with this idea on my own. I had planned to “die in the pulpit,” as I believe that young people need older people (obviously, I’ve always thought that way). Now, as I look at the wisdom of me stepping down, it becomes apparent that this unique church requires a passing the torch because God is calling me to broader ministry and because the next season of Scum Denver’s mission needs a leader with different gifts. To that end, Jesse Hellmann became the governing elder of the church in September.
I met with my friend, the Rev. Dave Male, while in Cambridge, England. Dave Male is the Church of England’s National Adviser for Pioneer Development, working to facilitate the development of a comprehensive and integrated vision, strategy and practice for pioneer ministry across the country. Dave has been the founder and Director of the Centre for Pioneer Learning in Cambridge, which aims to equip, resource and send out both lay and ordained pioneers (nationally and internationally). He was Tutor in Pioneer Mission Training at Westcott House and Ridley Hall, Cambridge University. (It was during this time that I met him.) Previously David spent seven years as the Vicar of The Net Church in Huddersfield which was one of the first fresh expressions of church in the U.K. He has written a number of books around pioneering issues. He is also a member of the Archbishops College of Evangelists.
My meeting with Dave was encouraging. He said, “Mike, we’ve got to explore: What is it that you offer the body of Christ in a broader sense than being pastor of Scum of the Earth Church?” That’s a rather humbling question, and the answer may not be only what I think. There’s an old proverb that says, “A person plans his course, but the Lord directs his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9, New English Translation). So, I’ve got to figure out what I can in my own heart … but be open to the Lord changing my course. Here’s what came of our hours together that day:
- Consult with congregations of older Christians about attracting more young people to their churches (perhaps a 1-2 year consult length). Maybe do a “pilot project” with a church for a reduced fee.
- Help begin other Scum of the Earth church plants around the country….via other churches, not necessarily individuals.
- Work with individual, young pastors as a mentor.
- Provide training for pastors who have never been to seminary. (Perhaps online only?)
- Social media is important. I need to blog, write for publication, be on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. in order to get the message out.
Dave’s main concern for me was that I’d be too soft about keeping a realistic financial sense about this kind of ministry—that I would have to be more hard-nosed than I usually am (and then stay focused on what ends up working financially for me). I think he is spot-on about that. I have never been motivated by money (which was one of my downfalls as a salesman all those years ago). Baby steps – that’s what I need to do – and it makes me think about that Bill Murray character from the film, What About Bob? Now, all I’ve gotta do is start!
While in the Cambridge area, we went to see some pioneering ministers who had been former students of Dave’s at Ridley Hall. We met with Elis and Sheila Matthews, Edd and Katie Stock, Izzy Turner, and then drove to Liverpool to meet with Dave and Lizzie Lowrie – all young and zealous for the Kingdom of God, stretching the borders of the church to meet those who are lost and without hope and introduce them to Jesus. We also got to reconnect with our expatriate Scum worship leaders Nat and Genevieve Nelson who are living in Manchester, England —which was wonderful. We had introduced them to the Lowries earlier, and the Nelsons have helped them a bit with their StoryHouse Cafe, an outreach to the Liverpool community. Mary and I also met a friend of the Nelsons’, Shara, who will most likely be visiting Scum sometime early next year. (She is currently reading my book, Pure Scum.)
We are now back in Scotland. Stuart and Lynsey Gilmour—plus building a core church-plant team—are again our focus before we fly home on the 6th of December.