Kris Beckert

Kris Beckert: No day to die


I really don’t like anything dying. From the day my first goldfish died when I was five, to the last funeral I presided over as a pastor, I have decided I don’t like death much. Yes, I am glad I am one who stands on the hope of Christ and eternal life, but losing someone or something you love is still pretty painful. Ask anyone who’s going through the grief process after losing someone close to them, and you’ll find that they feel they lost a part of themselves with that person too.

But something touched me deep inside…

But what if it’s not a pet or a person but a dream that’s died? What if it’s a dream, a hope in the wide open field of the future that you saw yourself changing, making an impact, stepping out of the biblical, figurative boat to walk on some water and do something nobody’s ever done before in this organism called Church? What if what you thought was a call from God is on life support from being beaten to a pulp by those who wanted you to become more “acceptable,” “realistic,” “conventional,” “appropriate?” What if you are not quite sure if or how that dream will survive, or if you, the pastor, will be the one to preside at the funeral?

I couldn’t take one more step…

I’ve seen it happen, and it scares me. As a young pastor finishing seminary and still trying to figure out this strange, unscientific call thing, I’ve been witnessing a lot of casualties lately. I’ve gone to multi-church meetings and run into graduates of the previous year all dolled up in their finest in an attempt to “fit in” and look more “pastorly” and impress those in authority. I’ve scratched my head after hearing conventional sermons by formerly-unconventional folks. I’ve listened to older pastors share their dead dreams of starting a contra dance church or garage church or basketball ministry who then proceed to tell me about how their congregations are dwindling and members are still fighting over carpet colors. I hear it all and shudder, because I dream of thriving, fresh expressions of church.

But February made me shiver…

So what to do? As a young pastor who struggles with fitting into the usual expectations of the Church and the pastorate, I hear a lot of buzzwords but I don’t see the worker bees. At times I feel I would be much lighter if I abandoned the vision of the Church that I carry and just morphed myself into a ministry that would be less daunting or more financially secure. Maybe it would be safer—for a few years at least. But whenever my vision dies, it’s replaced by something I don’t want to see and something God’s not calling me toward. Jesus’s burning question to the Twelve also echoes inside me: “You do not want to leave too, do you?”

And I knew if I had my chance…

Maybe my hope about the Church has something to do with remembering. I could imagine the disciples exchanging glances as Jesus asked that question. They chose not to get stuck in the comfort of their memories but instead realized that if they indeed left Jesus, they would have to go somewhere, follow someone or something else. I think Peter realized that first: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Sometimes someone else has to say those words before we really understand why we can’t put a God-given dream to rest, even when many other disciples have already turned back.

I can still remember how that music used to make me smile.

It’s the music that we share as “different” kinds of pastors and church leaders that often gives us the inspiration we need to believe that God’s not done here yet, no matter how hopeless the diagnosis or how tempting it is to pull the plug.  I remind myself that dreaming dreams and seeing visions is the antidote of the future that our Lord gives to willing folks like me and you to apply to a world in need. He hasn’t caught the last train for the coast—but is instead writing the story of transformation and revival that began…

A long, long time ago.


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Kris Beckert

Kris Beckert

Kris Beckert is a Mission Strategist/Trainer with Fresh Expressions US. She serves as Pastor of Innovation and Multiplication at Salem Fields Community Church in Fredericksburg, Virginia.


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