Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Rev. Flea Collar

Sunday’s are my day to do my ministry in a flea market. (I can visualize heads snapping to attention all across the land – “Did he say flea market?”) Yep – I said flea market. I get up on Sunday mornings, get my black trousers on, iron a black clerical shirt, open a fresh Harts Mountain collar, and slide it into the tabs of the shirt. (He snickers into his sleeve)

Seriously (that’s what all those really bad stand-up comics say isn’t it? “But seriously folks”) Really, y’all, I have a ministry in a flea market. It’s the best ministry I’ve ever had. One of my former students from Forsyth Tech called me one day four years ago and told me that he was opening a flea market and wanted me to come over on Sunday Mornings and do a service for the vendors.

Wade built a chapel in the market and gave me office space and BOOM- I was a flea market chaplain. I minister to the vendors by holding a 30 min. service from 8-8:30 Sundays, write a devotional newsletter and make rounds. Wade gave me a little contract as a small business chaplain and I’ve done everything any pastor does except have nervous breakdowns. I’ve got none of the pettiness, egocentricity or craziness of the typical parish ministry. Most of my congregation are recovering alcoholics, people who want nothing to do with the church and don’t expect me to wear a tie or any other form of uniform. They let me minister to them, pastor them and care for them without pretentiousness or bickering over - whatever church people bicker over that seems so important to them. They are risk takers and the kind of people who scrounge and scrape for a living and aren’t a bit impressed with my collection of degrees. I get hugs, they laugh at my jokes and listen to my messages (which- by the way are quite extemporaneous. I’m not at all compelled to spend 8-10 hours a week in sermon preparation every week. I’ve done funerals, weddings, counseling and settled some disputes in the market. Most of what I do is community building. There’s another church that rents space in the market and Bruce (the pastor) and I don’t have any sense of competition. Sometimes he even invites me to speak and once in a while he fills in for me. Bruce is one denomination and I another and guess what – it just doesn’t matter.

My own pastor is a woman who once said to me after a day of meetings with other pastors that she was “sick of white men in business suits.” Whew, me too. I love pastoring in jeans and pull over shirts. I love being with the common people that Jesus loved. I love being one of them in my flea market ministry.


At Thursday, 30 December, 2004 , Blogger Marjorie said...

That sounds like a nice ministry. I'm a big believer in community and am puzzled by why its so hard to find it in church. And I haven't heard many sermons that are worth so many hours of preparation.

At Sunday, 04 December, 2005 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

"My own pastor is a woman who once said to me after a day of meetings with other pastors that she was “sick of white men in business suits.”

Is that so? Do you think it's acceptable for pastors to be making racist and obnoxious comments to each other? Apparently some people are more equal than others. Would you turn people away from your church based on their sex`and skin color?

At Wednesday, 07 December, 2005 , Blogger Ken Bradstock said...

Dear Anonymous,
I probably shouldn't even respond to this because you don't have the courage to sign your name. But since you raise some interesting issues, I'd like to make some comments.
First. If you don't think that pastors don't make obnoxious and racist comments, your'e pitifully naive. Secondly, racism is a system of power and white men (of which I'm one) are the power in this world. I't's not racist to be sick of them. It is, however prejudice or even bigotted.
Secondly, I'm assuming you're a white man in a business suit or you wouldn't be so wounded by my pastor's comment. You are probably unaware of just how obnoxious you appear to those of us who prefer the outskirts of the culture. I don't like "suits" not because I don't wear them (I do wear one for funerals and weddings)but because I don't like the air superiority and ego-centricity that they carry about with them - especially in the pulpit.
Third, what the heck does turning people away from a church have to do with anything?
So - write back and sign your name - if you have the nerve.


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