Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Leadership 101 with Mary's World Guest Jon Fennell

If you've been around me for any length of time, you know my passions include Christian politics and the ethical lifestyle involved in leadership of any kind. How timely and appropriate to sit and talk with Jon Fennell, pastor of Believer's Fellowship in East Atlanta, about those very issues. I recently read an article written by syndicated conservative radio talk show host and columnist Dennis Prager titled What Does Adultery Tell Us About Character, and it unleashed a wealth of thoughts and questions that I posed to Pastor Jon. The political questions didn't unnerve him as much as something else. If you missed the LIVE broadcast on Monday evening, here is a partial transcript.

MN-Are you more comfortable preaching or teaching?

JF-When it comes to Bible teaching, I enjoy it so much because it’s the fruit of study and I enjoy studying. I really love to explore it, get into it, understand it and then I’m always looking for how it applies to how I live today. That’s the question I am trying to answer; now we understand it but what difference does it make and how can I apply it? I enjoy both roles. I feel like there is a different task on Sunday morning than Wednesday nights. Wednesday nights we try to disciple people and on Sunday morning, we want to worship God and proclaim His truth.

MN-Do you ever get performance anxiety, like on Sunday morning you are on your way to church and you say ‘Oh God, please show up. Please show up’ or do you just go with the flow and whatever happens, happens?

JF-I don’t get that as much as I used to. Sometimes, I do, though. When I was pastoring another church I had two Sunday services and what would happen is you would preach a service at 8 o’clock and if it didn’t go well, you knew (you) pretty much had this same sermon coming up again and there would be some nervous moments. I would be like, ‘God you’d better do something.’ I would think about trashing that one and writing another one real quick on the fly. (laughing) I don’t really get anxious about it, for whatever reason. I’m more nervous holding this earphone microphone.

Mike-There’s no one out there. (laughing)

JF-This has got me a little more rattled than preaching.

MN-It’s just us. (laughing)(In referring to political leaders) Public opinion is if a man betrays his wife, he will betray his country. There is so much emphasis placed on adultery that it defines a person. There are nine other commandments and there is so much focus placed on the one. Does a man lie? Does a man steal? How about, does (this candidate) go to church on Sunday? Even the media that reports this has more pull than most political candidates. Why aren’t we looking in their closet? So I guess my question to you is, if a man commits adultery, is that enough for (the voter) to say he will not be a good leader?

JF-Adultery is a sin-let’s be clear about that-and certainly a sin that brings a lot of devastation and hurt into that marriage and that family. When it comes to political candidates we need to figure out when it came out in the news. Is it old news, and if so, are we ever going to forgive and are we ever going to move on? Are we going to say this person can’t change? If a person can’t change, then why would I bother preaching the gospel? It gets a little more complicated than we want to admit. As a believer in the political process, all of us will be required to decide what values are going to be important to us when we go to the polls. We’re not necessarily going to find that one candidate that reflects all of our values. As a believer, I’ve really got to seek God and ask, ‘Who is really going to help this nation and who is going to take us in the direction we need to go?’

MN-The public perception of ministers and the life they lead sometimes is out of touch with reality. There was a poll where ministers were asked to finish this sentence. “If only people knew….” The poll reflected what (ministers) would like people to know is that they are regular guys, taking care of their wives and making sure the kids are clothed and fed, they like ESPN, they like to throw a football and drop a hook in the water every now and then. Sunday morning, you’re standing up in front of your congregation, you’re looking out over the crowd, and you think, “If only they knew…..”

JF-If only they knew, I wanted to go to lunch as badly as they do. I’m looking forward to some fried chicken. I’m gaining weight and trying to lose it, and it’s just as hard for me as it is them. I wish we had a prayer line that made our weight go away, those kinds of things. (laughing) God’s put us (ministers) in an interesting calling as leadership in the church. If you really buy into the body of Christ picture that Paul paints in I Corinthians 12, what I’m doing isn’t more important than what they (the congregation) are doing, it’s just different. I’m just trying to be obedient to do what God’s called me to do, and I’m enjoying it. But I am just as regular of a person as they are and what we share is a commitment to Christ and a passion to follow the calling he has on our lives.