Authenticity is the latest “buzzword” among the church. People are seeking authentic leaders, authentic relationships, and authentic believers. But it is not like there is an “authenticity meter” we can apply to anyone. Yes some people put on their Sunday best for church, and their Monday worst right after the service, but for the most part, we strive to follow Jesus the best we can in a fallen and sinful world. And the best way to do this is to be ourselves while allowing the Spirit to transform our minds into the likeness of Christ.
Memorial Day was a great opportunity for our congregation. The local Memorial Day parade goes right past the church building, and stops for a brief ceremony at the cemetery. We set up a table with information on the church, and gave away bottles of water and lollipops. As people were lining up for the parade, we handed out information on Vacation Bible School and the upcoming Strawberry Festival. No hype or pressure, just a couple of us talking with the community, telling them about some upcoming events.
Now here is the great part. Our neighbors brought their kids to the parade – and they got to see me in “Pastor Bill Mode”. They saw me interact with the community and with church members. And guess what? They saw the same guy who stands in the pulpit every Sunday preaching God’s word. The same guy who leads a tribe of children during VBS shouting chants like a drill sergeant (although much more fun). The same guy who talks about super hero movies, loves model trains, and shares his faith in a simple, authentic manner. The same guy who, a couple of hours later, sat around the picnic table with them, sharing a beverage and a discussion about religion in the United States.
So can I declare myself “authentic”? Or is that an unauthentic thing to do? I have no clue. What I do know is this. I am a sinner in need of a savior. I am a decent guy who tries hard to follow God’s path. I love Jesus. And all of this is true whether I’m in the pulpit, the community, or my backyard.