Oh no, I’ve said too much—I haven’t said enough

The following story comes from Lark News, a Christian website that shows the lighter side […]

DPotter / 10.5.09

The following story comes from Lark News, a Christian website that shows the lighter side of the faith through the medium of satire.

NAPERVILLE, Ill. — Brentwood Community Church’s congregation has asked its pastor to stop using the pulpit as his public confessional and to set boundaries on what he’s willing to share.

“Every week he confesses another personal weakness,” says one member. “You get twitchy wondering what’s next.”
The personal confession streak started after Pastor Greg Ott attended a pastors conference in Chicago. He returned and told the church he was embracing a “new vulnerability” with them.
“That sounded great until we realized it meant he would dump his dirty laundry on us every Sunday,” says one church member.

In the rhythm of his sermon, Ott’s confession usually comes a third of the way through, his people say. On a recent Sunday morning the congregation seemed to collectively cringe as he stepped around the pulpit and said, “Let me be real transparent with you …”
“I brace myself until he spits it out,” says Jocelyn Garnet. “It makes for a tense service.”

One week Ott admitted he was sometimes tempted to claim Starbucks food purchases as ministry-related tax deductions. Another time he said he “struggled with angry outbursts,” and occasionally “barked” at fast food drive-thru employees. He even said he sometimes walks “a little too slowly” by the Victoria’s Secret store in the mall.
Lay leaders decided to broach the matter with Ott because the church was getting a reputation as the home of the “TMI pastor,” (short for “too much information”).
Ott says he just wants to be real with his people.
“I struggle like they do,” he says. “It’s okay for them to know that.”
But many in his church disagree.
“I don’t stand in the foyer and announce my weekly failings,” says Robert Walker, 79. “I want to be uplifted at church. One hopes the pastor would lead by good example, not regale us with his peccadilloes.”

Whether you are a pastor or not, the story is funny because it highlights a person who has crossed the line from being ‘transparent’ to someone whose stories verge on the exhibitionistic (and self-involved?). However, for the sake of discussion, I wonder how this community feels about pastors sharing intimate details of their lives? How far is too far, or is there no limit? Generally speaking, does sharing ‘too much information’ undermine or enhance the pastor’s credibility?

And as a parting shot, even though this is soooo 2005 Super Bowl, it is still true enough to life: