When we treat church like a business or an enterprise, we become more focused on events or experiences rather than ministry and community. Marcus Brecheen, who leads the Gateway Network, works with numerous churches of all sizes, and he has seen many churches inadvertently operate in this way. In this episode of Church InTension, The King’s University President, Dr. Jon Chasteen, talks with Marcus about this problem and how churches can address it.
Dr. Jon Chasteen: Today we have a very special guest who’s one of my really good friends down here in Gateway World, Marcus Burcheen. Pastor Marcus Burcheen is probably one of my favorite humans down here in Gateway World as I’m running around The King’s University down here. We met back here four years ago or so, when I first came down here and quickly you grew on me, Marcus. I don’t know what it was about you. I just like you.
Pastor Marcus Burcheen: I tend to do that.
Jon: So Marcus Burcheen is a pastor at Gateway Church. He’s actually been a pastor on staff at Gateway Church for over 20 years. So one of the first things I want to talk about is one of the things you do at the Gateway Network is you do a yearly preaching seminar. We’ll get into more about that in just a minute. But last year you said something at the preaching seminar that I honestly took back to the church that I still pastor. I pastor Victory Church. We took it back and we completely changed what we call our services, our gatherings. We now call them gatherings. And I want you to explain this to them.
And again, if you’re out there, if you’re a pastor or you go to a church, you may have a pastor that calls your church service an experience, right?
Jon: So this kind of was a wave, I don’t know, 10 years ago, 15 years ago, where we used to call them church services and then we started calling them worship experience. And so we took this bait. We started calling everything experiences and we had plastered all over all of our doors worship experience times and our experience times. And you said something, I think we may have talked about it off stage, but then you got on stage too and talked about it at the preaching seminar last year. So I want you to unpack that.
Marcus: Okay. All right. So just to give just a second of context, I was talking to pastors, preachers about preaching, and one of the rising cultural mindsets is a philosophy called existentialism. And it’s a 10 dollar word with a 10 cent meaning. It basically means that my existence is interpreted through my experience. And so it’s a huge mindset. And if pastors are going to be successful in their preaching in ministry, that’s got to be addressed.
And existentialism is somewhere on the spectrum from just selfishness. It’s why we need to be born again, because we’re born selfish. All the way to narcissism. But it’s somewhere in that mix.
And so about 25 years ago a friend of mine planted a church, and I happened to be in the zip code gathering where this was classic marketing in the late nineties. But what he did was about five grand and you get a 100,000 five by seven glossies. And one of them came to my house and it set me off a little bit.
And I want him to be successful and he is. This church is great. But it said, “Come to our worship experience. We’re planting this church.” And so I had to really just quiet myself and ask, why does that upset me so much?
And here’s the reason why. Because if something is an experience, it is a noun. Okay? So a worship experience is a noun.
Marcus: It’s a person, place, or thing. Okay?
Marcus: Well, every worship word in the Bible, Old Testament, new Testament is a verb.
Jon: This is not a noun.
Marcus: We sacrifice. We offer.
Marcus: e bring.
Marcus: And so the trouble becomes, if I come to an experience now, I get to judge it. How was worship? And here’s what they’ll say.
Jon: It was okay.
Marcus: It was okay. It was okay. And so in the marketplace of church, I’m looking for what I like best. It’s like sushi or coffee. What you like? I like this place, but not that place. Well-
Jon: We get to judge it.
Marcus: We get to judge it. And so the problem is, is that it wasn’t for me.
Jon: There it is right there.
Marcus: It wasn’t for me.
Jon: That was the conviction for me right there.
Marcus: So if it was for me, then I can make a judgment about it.
Jon: I could call it an experience, yeah, because it’s about my experience.
Marcus: Yeah. But I wonder if maybe after church we ought to say, God, how was that for you?
Jon: Yes, that’s it right there.
Marcus: It was for him. And so if he would comment on how it was for him, it would be about the condition of our heart. And here’s the thing is that some people pray well and some people like me just seem like I stumble all over myself. What God’s after is sincerity.
Jon: Heart, yeah.
Marcus: A heart. And so a heart fully given to him, God would say worship was good for me. And he’s the only one who has the authority to judge it.
Jon: It was really convicting for one of our campus pastors. You know Pastor Wade. And Pastor Wade, a lot of times when the service was coming to a close, he would get up on stage and say, “How was that? How was worship today? How was the sermon? Wasn’t that good?” And so even by saying that, we’re really saying to the crowd, “You judge. How was the sermon? How was the worship?” And like you said a while ago, how was worship today? It was okay.
Jon: When we really should be saying to the Lord, “God, how was worship today?” And sometimes God may be like, “It was okay.”
Yeah, maybe. Maybe. You come in.
Jon: If we came in with the wrong heart.
Marcus: We come in distracted, had a fight with the wife. I’m the only one that’s ever happened to.
Jon: Or we sit in the crowd looking at the stage going, “It was okay.”
Jon: We’re more consumed with what’s happening on the stage than pouring out our affection.
Marcus: Yeah. Sermon was a little boring.
Marcus: It’s okay. I like the guy down the street.
Jon: It was such a conviction. And maybe you’re listening to this and you’re like, “I’m not dowm,” whatever. That’s fine. But for me, it was so convicting that we went back to our church and erased the word experience from our church. We took the word experience off of our times. We got back to our church and we realized that we had put the word experience on every door to our entire church, worship experience times, website, worship experience times. So we just call them gatherings now.
But anyways, that was such a convicting. But isn’t that… What are your thoughts on this? It kind of goes along with this, how the church has become this “let us serve you”. Let us give you donuts. Let us make you comfortable. Let us give you padded chairs. Whatever the case may be. Does that kind of go along with this whole feeling of it’s all about the person in the pew?
Jon: Let us cater to you.
Jon: Let us give you the best.
Marcus: Yeah, so many people, they’re looking for a church that’ll meet their needs. And I remember as years ago when Gateway was growing and I asked someone, “What drew you to Gateway?” And he said, Because there’s so many places to serve.” And I just hear that so rarely.
But I don’t know who this was originally attributed to. I think it was a professor in Europe. But he said, and pardon me if I don’t get this right, but he said, “The church began as a fellowship in Palestine. It moved to Rome and became an institution. It moved to Europe and became a culture. It moved to Greece and became a philosophy.
Marcus: But it moved to America and became an enterprise.
Marcus: It became a business.”
Jon: That’s so good. Wow.
Marcus: And so we try everything on. It’s got to be about me and my needs and what I like and what I don’t like. So now the biggest churches are the ones that you got a preacher who can get it done, you got a great worship team, and there’s no mishits anywhere in the weekend service. And so it’s about my experience. I’ll go when I want and not when I don’t, and don’t make me feel guilty because the guy down the street.
And so the church has now become positioned to, we’re going to draw you in by what we offer you. And a lot of times the big churches will cannibalize the small churches that have great fellowship, great ministry, great preaching, and the money and the life just sucks out and is drawn to the larger churches. And so a lot of churches are shutting down. Even though they do terrific ministry, shut down.
Jon: Is there is a way to correct that? I mean, is there a way to still provide? Is it one of the other? You see what I’m saying? Do we have to just completely reverse the ship or can we slowly make changes to reverse that?
Marcus: Well, it’s a marketplace. I Mean, whoever that professor was who said that, he wasn’t kidding. It is a marketplace. And so in a marketplace, I consume what I want and I don’t consume what I don’t want. But we are beginning to see a trend where people are looking more for authenticity and friendship.
Jon: Authenticity. I was about to say that too, yeah.
Marcus: And a lot of people find a church where they can hide, won’t be convicted. Sermons are light and it’s all about you can live however you want and God loves you.
Marcus: And so love has been watered down to where there’s now, no, “You know what? You’re on a track that’s going to harm you down the road and it’s time to stop.” And we’re not hearing that. And so we are beginning to see a trend of people that are looking for, I want a pastor that’ll tell me the truth. And step on my toes if you must, but I’m going to find some friendship. I’m going to get involved and that sort of thing.
Jon: Do you think the polarization is causing some of that where things are becoming so polarized, whether it’s Republican, Democrat, right, left, whatever, that things are becoming so polarized that people are wanting pastors to now stand up? Is that tied to that? I mean-
Marcus: It may well be. I haven’t heard that, but it wouldn’t surprise me a bit. I mean-
Well, because truth is becoming so watered down, like you’re saying.
Jon: And the obvious things that we would’ve said in the past that that’s obvious are not now not so obvious to the culture.
Marcus: Right. Yeah.
Jon: And so I think there’s this movement in the church of saying, “Okay, we can’t water this down anymore. We have to stand up. We have to speak truth.” So why are you… One of the things you’re really passionate about is preaching obviously because you have a preaching seminar every single year at Gateway for the Gateway Network and anybody else, and hundreds of people show up.
Jon: What sparked that? Why did that start? Why did you feel like you needed to start doing that?
Marcus: Well, one of the trends that we’re seeing in church, and it’s been going on for about 30 years, is women and men who are brought on staff at a church and given a title of pastor with no training at all. And so I do believe in on-the-job training and so I’m not saying that that is inherently a bad move, but it will have consequences.
“Wisdom will be proven right by her children,” Jesus said in Matthew 11, and so I think, or the lack thereof. And so I was in church, very large, well known church, one time, and the pastor who was preaching said, “I have a word from God for you. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” I think it’s Proverbs 22:6 where that’s addressed.
And he said, “This is a promise from God. You raised those kids. They left the Lord, but they’re coming back. And you have God’s promise on that.” And I cringed because that’s not what… You don’t. Proverbs are not promises.
Now there are promises that God, he is not a man that he can lie and he will make good on all of his promises. But Proverbs proverbially this is what you’ll see.
Marcus: And that’s what Solomon intended when he wrote Proverbs. And so the problem that I see in preaching Proverbs as a promise is is that some of those prodigals are not coming home. And then parents get upset with God for lying to them when God never made the promise in the first place. And so when I heard that, I thought, what can I do? This is not okay. And it was a great sermon. I mean, people stood up and cheered and yelled-
Jon: Of course, they did, yeah.
Marcus: … but it was not biblical for that to happen. And so I just thought, man, if we’re going to bring in pastors with no training we’ve got to get supplemental training.
Jon: Yeah, we’ve got to provide some training.
Jon: Yeah, most pastors, if they didn’t go to seminary, probably will never go. They may go. But I don’t know if I’ve really shared my story on this podcast before, but that was really my story. I was in higher ed. I was attending a local church. And then that local church saw leadership on me and so they hired me to be a campus pastor. Long story. Became a campus pastor.
And I was expecting this training process. I had zero. I’d gone to Bible school, but I majored more in psychology. I had some minors in Bible, but no real pastoral training at all. Had a master’s degree in education and was almost finished with my doctorate in education.
And I remember my very first day on the job, they walked me down to my office and I sat down in my desk and one of the pastors came in and slid ordination papers across the desk and said, “Welcome to the team, Pastor John.” And I remember feeling this overwhelming sense of, I don’t know that it was shame, but it was overwhelming.
What? You just gave me a mantle that I have no idea how to carry. I have no idea how to be a pastor. I don’t know how to do a funeral, I don’t know how to do a hospital visit, nothing. And then I remember a couple of weeks later, somebody was in the hospital and they said, “Pastor John, you’re up. Go see him.” And I had no idea what I was doing.
So I think there’s a lot of pastors, a lot of churches are guilty of this. We hire leaders. We see leadership on someone, which is important, and we hire them and put them in real… And I was a campus pastor. It’s not like I was hired to be you got a injury person. I was stage leadership pastor role. And so I think that that’s something that a lot of churches… I mean, my church gateway church, even the church I pastor, we don’t require degrees for our pastors.
And so I love your heart in the preaching seminar. And it was really the heart of why even at The King’s University we saw the need to launch something else. We launched church ed, which is very practical training for pastors and leaders in the church.
You did one of our sessions on care pastoring and now that resource is completely free. Totally free. You can go on it and take courses for kids ministry, youth ministry, worship, care pastors, executive pastors.
So this preaching seminar… I always kid Marcus, he’s the most educated person. You have a master’s degree in divinity, right?
Jon: I am bugging… And let it be known on this podcast prophetically that Marcus is going to go back and get his doctorate degree.
Marcus: Praying about it, thinking about it, talking to my wife about it.
Jon: Are you?
Jon: So I’ve been bugging Marcus forever to come to TKU or wherever, I don’t care where you go, and get your doctorate. You’re just one of the most educated men. You’re constantly reading. You’re constantly in the academia world of studying God’s word. Why it this so important for a pastor to be trained theologically?
Marcus: Well, because you’re speaking for God and every text has a context. And I don’t think you have to know Greek and Hebrew, but I do think that it’s important to ferret out what does a text mean? “And if God is going to speak,” one scholar said, “then the most important thing people can do is listen.”
Marcus: And so without the scripture, no man has very much at all to say, and I would almost say nothing at all of value. And so it is just opinion. But I was raised in a home where we had a very high view of scripture. And so I believe that the scripture is absolute truth. I believe it’s true. I believe it’s God’s word. And so for me, I just think that people need to know and understand.
I mean, if discipleship is the renewing of the mind, then the renewing of the mind is to think God thinks. And so if all we’re giving is opinions about scripture, well then I’m being conformed to the way my pastor thinks. And so as a preacher, I want to expose the text so that people can begin to think like God thinks.
And one of the things that this makes sense to me is that there’s a guitar out there that the custom made are $50,000. And they’re people probably people watching the podcast today that would say, “Oh, that’s half of what you could pay for.” This is an acoustic guitar. Me, I couldn’t tell the difference between that and a Walmart guitar. Somebody that knows how to play it… But to a trained ear, they can tell the difference.
Jon: Yeah, it’s good.
Marcus: And that’s really what discipleship is, is learning to love what God loves and hate what God hates instead of forming our own opinion based on I like that or I don’t like that.
Jon: Well, just the weightiness of it. There should be a fear of the Lord. There should be a really reverent fear of the Lord as a pastor that like you said, you are trying to communicate the voice of God, and there’s a weightiness to that. Let’s not mess this up. we’re going to stand before the Lord one day-
Marcus: Yeah, it’s a big deal.
Jon: … and it is a big, big deal. So there’s a major weightiness to that.
So, okay, one of the things we were texting back and forth about last night that let’s dig into here. You have been in ministry for how many years?
Marcus: Oh, 30. Right at 30.
Jon: So you’ve been in a lot of different roles. Now you’re in a role where you’re pastoring pastors, helping pastors develop teams, helping pastors develop leaders.
I think for any leader building a leadership team, building a leadership structure, building leadership development, all of those things, really any leader is limited by the people that follow them, so to speak. The level that I rise to is the level that everyone else can rise up. If I go up, everyone goes up. So at any course or any situation or season of leadership, you’re going to come across people who maybe just aren’t going to cut it. Maybe their leadership is never going to rise to certain levels.
I think John Maxwell says, “Don’t call a duck an eagle.” Some ducks will never be eagles. And there’s some leaders that you can take on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the best. Maybe there’s a leader that you can take from a six to an eight or from a four to a seven or from a seven to a nine. But maybe there’s some leaders who will never go from a four to a 10. They’re just never going to do it.
And so when we come across what someone might call an incompetent leader… I know that’s a really… Maybe that word’s maybe a little too inflamed. We think incompetent really is a bad word almost. But how do we see these people in our organizations? We’re just going to be real blunt with this. How do we see incompetence in our organizations and what do we do with an incompetent leader on our team?
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Yeah, so the word competent is a French word and it means-
I figured you’d know that.
I’m curious. It means skilled or trained for success.
Okay,. Skilled or trained for success.
Marcus: And so incompetent is unskilled, untrained for success. So if we’re going to prop people up without training, then we’ve got to change the word, the definition of success. Okay?
Marcus: And so let me throw this out because this happened one time to me. We had developed people that loved to see physical healing.
Marcus: And so we began to develop teams of people. And so this lady came in one night. she had had horrible back problems for years and she said, “I just need you to pray for my back.” And so while they were praying, the Lord healed her back. And so one of the people asked, “Describe what happened to your back?” And she said, “I just felt this heat.” And this woman said, “Point at it for me.” And so she turned around and pointed. And she said, “Yeah, that’s your chakra.”
Jon: What are you talking about?
Marcus: And so one of the ladies on the team emailed me and said, “What’s a chakra?” And I didn’t know. I had to Google it.
Jon: I don’t know what a chakra is.
Marcus: Total new age.
Marcus: It’s not on a map of physiology of the human body.
Marcus: Okay? So I had to go sit her down and she was involved in ministry successfully, right?
Marcus: So I said, “We’re not doing-
Jon: We’re not doing chakra.
Marcus: We’re not doing that here.” And she goes, “But it’s real.”
Marcus: And I said, “I disagree.” And so, you know what? I’m in the minority here globally. Everyone says there’s chakra. Well, there’s actually seven of them and they’re located all the way down your spine.
Jon: I feel like I’m in the twilight zone right now.
Marcus: Yeah, me too, man. So I had to sit her down. And she wasn’t willing to align with us and so I had to remove her from the ministry.
Marcus: I’m not prideful about my education, but I have been concerned there are certain people that if someone else had been in charge of that ministry, that they would’ve gone, “Well, it worked.”
Jon: Right. Right.
Marcus: And so, to me, that’s incompetence.
Jon: That’s good.
Marcus: It’s not that she was incapable.
Jon: That’s good. That’s really good, yeah.
Marcus: She was incompetent.
Marcus: And she wasn’t willing to come into alignment with what we believe the scripture says.
Jon: That’s really good.
Marcus: Yeah. And so-
Jon: That’s really good.
Marcus: But the same would be true if you hired somebody to oversee your life groups. And so they’ve got let’s say 30 group leaders that they’re responsible to serve. And one of them comes back and says, “Somebody was talking about…” And it was new age. You better have somebody with enough chops to shut that down because they say healthy things grow, so does cancer.
Jon: So does cancer. But I think sometimes those instances are almost easier to fire somebody if it’s heresy, if it’s unbiblical. I think where most pastors struggle is when a leader is, let’s use the same example, life group leader or small groups, and you need somebody to perform at a nine, but they’re really performing at a six or a five. And two years have passed.
You knew it two years ago. You knew that this wasn’t going to work, but you’ve just allowed this person to continue in that role to the detriment of community in your church. And they’re a good person. They’re not toxic. Everyone loves them. They’re a great person.
There’s a level of incompetence there and sometimes you can train all you want. They just… So you used two words, skill and training. So sometimes skill is just a God-given skill. Sometimes I believe that there’s certain people that God just gives them certain leadership roles, traits for particular things.
Marcus: Right. Yeah.
Jon: Some things can be trained, some things can’t be trained. I could train all I want to. I’m not going to be LeBron James. I can train as much as I want. So what does a leader do?
I guess maybe a good segue for us to continue the conversation. How do I fire someone in a really healthy way?
I think this paralyzes churches? I think there’s so many churches, so many church leaders who, let’s say they have 10 people on staff, five of them should probably be fired. You know what I mean?
Jon: And so in the business world, this is a no-brainer. You fire them, you cut them loose, on you go. Ministry is so hard in this way.
Jon: How do I be a godly man, godly woman, fire someone on my team in a really healthy way? Because if we don’t, we’re called to steward these churches, right?
Jon: We’re to steward. And at what point am I being a bad steward if I’m given these talents, so to speak, to use that parable, and then I’m not bringing in ROI, but there are human lives at stake. There’s mortgages at stake. Yeah, there’s food on the table. This is a really hard part of ministry, a really hard part of ministry.
Marcus: Yeah. So I think that the best ministry is always done in the context of relationship. And so if you want to move somebody out with no relationship, just a hatchet man. And I think the church can do better than that.
Jon: Yep. Yep, I agree.
Marcus: A lot of them are like that. But I think if you go back to, remember Moses father-in-law? Jethro.
Marcus: He goes, “Man, this is not working.”
Jon: It’s not working at all.
Marcus: It’s not working at all.
Jon: You’re wearing yourself out and the people, yeah.
Marcus: Right. And so Jethro means wisdom. That’s what the Hebrew word means.
Marcus: And so it was a word of wisdom to say, you need to chop this thing up. And there’ll be some over fifties. I don’t remember all the numbers, but-
Marcus: … some over hundreds, some over thousands.
Marcus: And to me that speaks of capacity.
Jon: That’s really good.
Marcus: And so a lot of times what you’re noticing, they know as well. They’re aware. There’s something going on. And so- have-
Jon: Have the guts to have a conversation.
Marcus: Pull them aside and say, “Man, I love you. Let’s talk about this. Because it seems like you’re frustrated. Do you sense any tension at all?” And as a leader, even if they don’t, maybe you’ve got to help them see that. But I would always… Jesus said about the fig tree, don’t chop it down, dig around it. Fertilize it for a year.
Jon: Yeah, that’s right. That’s right.
Marcus: See if it’ll return.
Jon: That’s a good word.
Marcus: I believe in development. Well, that’s what we do as a church, right?
Marcus: We’re developing people.
Jon: Yeah. And usually it doesn’t mean they’re a bad leader. It means that they’re leading in a role that they’re not called to lead in, you know?
Marcus: Yeah. Yeah.
Jon: Maybe they’re called to a different area.
Jon: I heard Craig Rochelle say this one time, and he said it publicly at a group thing. So I don’t think he would mind me sharing the story. But he had a person on staff one time that just didn’t seem passionate, wasn’t cutting it, so to speak. And he called this person in and said, he says scale of one to 10, talking about passion.
He mentioned a couple other people on his leadership team. He says, he asks his employee, Jerry, one of our DLT members, “What do you think his passion level is?” And the person said, “Oh, 10.” Sam Roberts, “What do you think his passion level is?” “10. Oh, 10. 100%. 10.”
“Okay. So let me ask you what is your passion level at? Where are you at?” And they thought a minute and said, “A seven.” And it’s probably more like a five. But he looked at this person and said, “We don’t have room for sevens. We need 10s.”
But sometimes it’s not a matter… There is times where people are just put in a position where their passion is a seven or five or four because they’re just in the wrong position. And if you put them in the right position… Colin’s the right seat on the bus. So I do think there’s a role there to play. But I think one of the leaders…
I love what you said. Let’s fertilize it. Let’s dig around it. And most leaders don’t have the guts to sit down and have hard conversations and set legitimate timelines. “Okay, we’re giving him six more months. I need to see this and this and this and this and this.” And set those things up to make it healthier, you know?
Marcus: Yeah. Well, I don’t know where the Bible ever defines what an anointing is, but it seems like as somebody said, “What’s an anointing?” And the guy said, “Well, I don’t know what it is exactly, but I know when it’s not there.” Isn’t that the truth?
Jon: That is. That is the truth.
Marcus: But it seems like the anointing follows passion for something.
I remember the introduction to Blue Like Jazz? Did you ever read the book Blue Like Jazz?
Marcus: Donald Miller. In the introduction he says, “I went to a jazz bar one night.” And he said, “I hate jazz. It never resolves.”
Jon: It never resolves.
Marcus: It never resolves. But he said, “But we sat down and there was a guy playing…” I think it was a saxophone. And he said, “And he loved jazz-
Marcus: and because he loved it so much-
Marcus: …I came to love jazz.”
Jon: So passion is contagious.
Marcus: Yes, it’s contagious.
Jon: Yes. That’s really good.
Marcus: And so if I feed off of your passion-
Marcus: … now I get excited about something because, man, if Jon loves it this much, there must be something to it.
Jon: Which should speak to every leader.
Marcus: It should.
Jon: If I’m not passionate about it, then my team won’t be passionate about it.
Jon: And if I can’t give the vision in a passionate enough way, then why would I expect them to be passionate about it?
Marcus: Yeah. It’s like, “Open your Bible. Matthew chapter two. Today we’ll talk about the birth of Christ. It’s like…
Marcus: Yeah. No one is going to run to Jesus after that it seems like to me. And so while I do think faith comes from God, I think that we can be passionate leaders as well. And I think it’s part of good leadership.
Jon: Do you think there’s a place where people… How do I get this out? Sometimes we put people in the wrong positions because they want to be in a greater position. So use the old climbing the ladder of success, right?
Marcus: Yeah. Yeah.
Jon: Are there people that are just called to be on the second ring, not on the 10th ring? And is there a component of the insecurity in mankind that we just can’t be content?
Jon: So if I’m called to be… Let’s just use the same example. I’m called to be… No, I’m going to use this example. I’ve got a kids’ pastor at my church, Adam Frederick, amazing kids’ pastor, probably in his late forties. If he’s listening to this, maybe I’m being kind. He might be close to 50. He’s been a kids pastor for like 20 years. When’s the last time you’ve seen somebody do kids’ ministry 20 years?
Marcus: I haven’t.
Jon: Usually it’s… We know the ministry chain, right? Kids pastor, youth pastor.
Jon: Although the way up to senior.
Marcus: Moving on up.
Jon: Moving on up the ladder.
Marcus: Which is the enterprise, right?
Jon: Yes, full circle.
Marcus: It’s the enterprise.
Jon: That’s such a good point.
Marcus: I interrupted. I’m sorry.
Jon: No, that’s such a good point. And I’m even contemplating that because I think you’re right. We can’t just be content with being where God’s called us to be. And then we end up putting people in the position of leadership because they were begging for it, asking for it, or they’ve been here 10 years so we just do it by default and then they lose their passion. And so now we have to fire someone because they stepped out of the place they were supposed to be.
So maybe it’s contentment. It’s the enterprise that we live in. I mean, where did you… Of course, your current position is your favorite position you’ve ever had, right?
Jon: Because we don’t want anybody to be fired here. But where did you feel like you were in your greatest niche? Let’s use the word anointing, Marcus.
Jon: Where did you feel the most fulfilled in ministry along the way?
Marcus: Well, you know what? I really do. I think I have loved what I’ve been called to do every step of the way.
Jon: Each time.
Marcus: Yeah. And so it shifted and I love that.
Jon: Which is possible.
Marcus: And I love that, too.
Marcus: But I remember when I was a senior pastor. I was a senior pastor for eight years, and I still remember preaching my heart out and almost having an out of body experience where I could see myself behind an open Bible and people who are feeding on the word of God, thinking this is the greatest job in history.
Jon: Greatest moment.
Marcus: This is awesome. Almost like I want to build a hut here in stay put, you know?
Marcus: But I’ve loved it along the way. Every position to me has been good. And you know what? If you love what you do, there’s a passion to go get trained in that.
Jon: Yep, that’s true. That’s true.
Marcus: And so every time I transitioned I went, “I don’t know how to do this.”
Jon: We should always feel a little over our head.
Marcus: We should.
Marcus: Yeah. But I don’t know how to do this so I’m going to go figure it out. And that’s where passion comes from.
Jon: When I was first lead pastor I was in way over my head and I was actually meeting with a guy. I won’t say his name. And he stuck his finger across the table and put it in my face and said, “You’re in way over your head and you’re going to fail.” And I remember just off the cuff saying right back to him, “I hope I’m always in over my head.” I was like, “You’re darn right. I’m in way over my head.”
And when I became the president at TKU I was in way over my head because that’s when we know that we’re lacking and we know that we need a source, that I need to plug into something here to give me source.
Jon: Obviously God. We need to plug into his source for his empowerment, wisdom.
But also just training. What do I need to read? What do I need to do? What do I need to study? What podcast do I need to listen to?
So you’re right, I think that’s maybe a good gauge along the path as we… Because very rarely do we do the same thing our whole life, you know?
Marcus: Right. Yeah.
Jon: So maybe that’s a good gauge is to listen to our passion levels and to not be driven by money or fame or status, but where’s my passion at and if that’s waning?
What have you sensed happening in you? Maybe going back to you being a lead pastor, for our listeners out there who may be sensing like the closing of a chapter and I can’t see the next chapter yet. I can’t turn the page. I don’t know what the page is. What does that feel like and how do you know when one chapter is closing before you know the next chapter that God’s going to open? What did that feel like?
Marcus: It is simultaneously for me, in my experience, miserable and peaceful at the same time. And when I move towards faith, there’s peace that God’s in it with me. But I think God manufactures those in our lives from time to time just to say, would you lean in?
Marcus: You’re drifting just a little.
Jon: Press in a little bit, yeah.
Marcus: And one of the things I think when the church begins to hire great leaders, they may well bring people in that are professional and they know how to run stuff and they know how to recruit and sell and cast vision. But you hear them talk about God and it’s almost like, do you know God?
Jon: Do you know why we’re here?
Marcus: Yeah. There’s sort of something big at play. And so it’s possible to be professional and yet not be spiritual. And one of the things that I’ve said before is that ministry is hard work because it’s heart work. And there are thousands of careers and professions that you can do with no heart at all.
Jon: Heartless, yeah.
Marcus: And it’s okay.
Jon: And sometimes you’re more successful when you do it heartless, yeah.
Marcus: Yeah, and succeed.
Jon: Yeah, and succeed.
Marcus: But ministry is not one of those.
Jon: It’s so true.
Marcus: And so, man, you find me somebody that can have a well oiled machine and everything is perfect and it’s clicking down the tracks, and you get there and you feel like something’s wrong here. And I would rather have little sloppy, little undone, not quite all together yet, but man, this leader loves-
Jon: Loved the Lord.
Marcus: … Jesus.
Marcus: And I’ll hitch my wagon to that person.
Jon: It’s such a hard balance, isn’t it?
Marcus: It is.
Jon: I mean, you’ve been a lead pastor. So you know the duality of this leadership role in the church where there’s spirit, the natural and the supernatural. Because we’ve all seen leaders that are just all… They’re so heavenly minded, they’re no earthly good. They’re preach the paint off the walls. Presence of God is so thick. But then the back room of the organization, their leadership structure is so convoluted and so dysfunctional and so terrible. Terrible steward of money, terrible steward of resources.
And then you got the other side where, like what you’re saying, people that are amazing business minded structure, system staff, leadership. But you’re like, “You know thhis is a church, right? You know Jesus.” But it really is a hard balance sometimes.
And I feel like it’s… We’ve talked about this before on the show, but I can’t remember who, I think it’s Andy Stanley who kind of coined this. It’s not a tension to be solved. It’s just a tension to be continually managed.
There’s seasons of life as a pastor where I have to be more naturally focused in systems and leadership and structure and stewardship and staffing. And then there’s other seasons where I’m going to be way more over here. Let’s fast, let’s pray, let’s seek the Lord. And maybe it’s not a…
In your leadership style, where are you more likely to bend naturally?
Marcus: Way towards the heart.
Jon: Gotcha. And then you have to force yourself more so over to the business side.
Marcus: Yeah. But the systems are like the skeleton. It won’t stand up without those things in place. But if we become all about the systems people feel like, do you know my name robots?
Jon: Yep. Robots, yep.
Marcus: Yeah. Do you remember that we’re friends? And so we start to use people to build a church. And that’s not why the church was given.
When the cross is introduced to anything, it turns it upside down. And so leadership that is Christian, that’s why Jesus said, “I didn’t come to be served. I came to serve.” And so the leader that practices business principles uses other people to say, do your job and we’ll all get promoted. So if I can keep you on task, then I look good. I get promoted and I’ll put one of you in the job I just vacated.
And I think Jesus would say, it’s backwards, it’s upside down. You came to serve. What are you serving? You’re serving God’s purposes in their lives. And so work is simply, to me, scaffolding that God is using to build people. And so if I have to let somebody go, it’s because I’m serving God’s purposes. It’s not because they made me mad.
Jon: Yeah, that’s good.
Marcus: It’s because God’s going, man, they’ve got to learn this lesson. If a man doesn’t work, he doesn’t eat. And that’s book, chapter, and verse, you know?
Marcus: And so our role as leaders is to serve people by serving God’s purposes in their lives.
Jon: Yeah, without being driven by the enterprise.
Marcus: Right. Exactly, yeah.
Jon: Well, the enterprise says if I’m not growing, I’m not succeeding.
Jon: Is that the basis of an enterprise is the end goal?
Marcus: Yeah, it’s commerce, turning a profit. And so you do that by market share.
Jon: But even a deeper layer of that onion would be why? Why do I need to turn a profit? Why do I need to grow?
Marcus: It’s what we’ve said success is.
Jon: So it goes to the, “I want to be accepted.” It deals with my insecurities. It deals with all of those things.
Marcus: Yes, I think so.
Jon: Yeah, I agree.
Marcus: Yeah, I think it does.
Jon: Do you see this even in.. There may be some of our listeners that are Gateway network churches. So we’re not calling out any specific church or any specific person. I think in the heart of every pastor we struggle with this. We’re just being honest. But do you see this even in your ministry today where pastors wrestle with this?
Marcus: Oh, yeah.
Jon: I don’t know. I want to be seen. Really, it all goes back to I want to be needed and known.
Jon: We’re pastoring congregants of people who want to be needed and known. But really at the heart of every pastor, we want to be needed and known too.
Jon: So if I’m just pastoring a church, trying to make all these people feel needed and known, who’s helping me feel needed and known?
Marcus: Yeah, it’s a good question. And we have this conversation constantly with pastors where we’re redefining success and what is ministry success? We have this conversation on a consistent basis. And I think one of the reasons why is because many pastors are orphans.
Marcus: Spiritual orphans.
Marcus: Well, orphans cannot make sons and daughters. And so we reproduce after our own kind.
Jon: That’s right.
Marcus: And so if I’m an orphan, then I’m using you to build a big church, which means now I’m preaching to gather people, not to impart godliness and holiness and a love for the Lord. And so-
Jon: Yeah, we’ve talked about that on this podcast before. And what we say, what we’ve said in the past, Lai Headland was on, and pastors who operate as orphans end up pastoring orphanages because you reproduce yourself.
Marcus: You do. You do.
Jon: So now you’re pastoring a church full of orphans.
Marcus: Right. But part of that is that we’re driven, not called, we’re driven by a horrible definition of success that’s driven by the enterprise. The enterprise determines success. Bigger is better. And that’s what the coffee, sushi restaurants, restaurant chains, the-
Jon: Bigger is better.
Marcus: And you find one every once in a while, that changes its menu and ruins everything. And then another one changes the menu and gets even bigger market share. And so now the big thing is multi-site and how you going to do multi-site? And what’s your multi-site model? And it’s franchising is what it is.
And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a multi-site church. Obviously, I’ve been a campus pastor. But I do think that multi-site churches need to be careful about colonialization.
Jon: Talk about that.
Marcus: Colonialization. The Roman Empire.
Marcus: So what we’re going to do is we’re going to take Rome culture and we’re going to-
Jon: Infiltrate, yeah.
Marcus: … overlay over this nation or city rather than being sensitive to what are the things, what are the traits about us-
Jon: That can compliment.
Marcus: Yeah, that can move in there and serve this culture and with something that God’s done here in us.
Marcus: And so it’s a different way to look at it.
Jon: That is a really. You said the word colonialization and I was, okay, here we go.
Marcus: Yeah. Yeah.
Jon: It’s time.
Marcus: I’m just going to take my footprint and I’m going to put it everywhere, yeah.
Jon: Stamp it down everywhere we go.
Marcus: And it just doesn’t tend to work very well.
Jon: Yeah. That’s so good, man. We have a lot of pastors who listen to this podcast, but a lot of church leaders too, not necessarily lead pastors, and then lay people too that are just in the church in leadership. But is there any particular thing that you would want to… As we kind of begin to land the plane here, is there anything really on your heart? And if the answer’s no, no worries. I’m putting you on the spot.
What is kind of your heart cry? What makes you so passionate about building churches and helping church leaders? And anything that you would share your heart with leaders that are listening, if you could?
I’ve said this before in the podcast, but if by some unimaginable way I could get every single pastor in the whole country, maybe even the whole world into one room and someone hands, Marcus Burcheen a microphone and you can say anything you want to every pastor in the whole world, what would you say? What would you want them to hear? I’m kind of putting you on the spot there, but-
Marcus: Yeah, I mean, I couldn’t very well say nothing. I don’t have anything to say.
Jon: Good luck guys. I appreciate y’all. Let me pray for you.
Marcus: I think most pastors have a moment where they were called and they knew without a shadow of a doubt they were called. And I didn’t spend much of my life running from God, but I ran from ministry
Jon: I did too. It was not fun.
Marcus: … because my parents were in.
Jon: It’s hard. Me too. That’s why I ran.
Marcus: Yeah, I don’t want that.
Jon: Yeah, me too.
Marcus: So I ain’t doing that.
Jon: We’ve never talked about that before, but that was me too. I ran from ministry because I was like, why would I want to do that?
Jon: It’s hard.
Marcus: Yeah. And then all of a sudden there’s a call and I thought, oh boy, I hope that’s not what I think it is.
Jon: Yep, I remember that too.
Marcus: Oh my goodness.
Jon: I remember that too.
Marcus: And then, I don’t know who originally said this, Jon, but who was the old pastor that says, “Brother, if you can do anything else, go do it.
Jon: I’ve never heard that. That’s awesome.
Marcus: “Should I go into ministry?” “Not if you can do anything else and be happy, no.”
Jon: Oh, that’s so sad, but so true. You know what I mean? If you’re not called to do it, don’t do it.
Marcus: Yeah, don’t do it.
Jon: You won’t survive.
Marcus: I mean, but in the enterprise it’s an option. It’s a career option.
Jon: Wow. Wow.
Marcus: And so most pastors have-
Marcus: There’s a distinct… You don’t have to write it down, but I remember the moment where you were sitting, most people will remember where they were, were sitting, what they were doing, and they knew, I’m going to do this.
Jon: There’s a verse, I can’t remember if it’s in Haggai or Zechariah, but it’s the moment that the Lord is calling Zerubbable and Jeshua, the two that were going to come back and rebuild the temple. Gosh, I just wrote about this in July and I can’t remember which book it’s in, but it says… It has this real powerful moment where you can see the call of God coming on their life to come back and do something that no one else wanted to do, you know?
Jon: This is going to be really hard. I got to come in and rebuild something that’s been torn down. And it says… Gosh, I wish I could quote this verse. It says, “And the Lord sparked the enthusiasm of Zerrubable and Jesuah.” So there was a spark. And really that’s a cool picture of just…
We kind of used the term, God called me to it, God anointed me, whatever. But really that’s what’s happening, is God’s causing a spark and every flame starts from a spark. So there really does come that moment. And I remember it well too. I remember when God sparked the enthusiasm of Jon Chasteen to go into ministry. And it is this overwhelming sense of, please God, no.
Jon: For me. Not for everybody. And an overwhelming sense of, without God this is impossible. Like, I can’t do this.
Marcus: Yeah. And if somebody is eager, “I want to go do that.” I’m like, why? If there’s no call, don’t do it. And some people have the gifting that they can make a lot of money doing it. Build a big corporation. Hang a sign that says Church out front and build a big corporation and it’s just your gift. And I’m just like, “Man.”
If I had a room full of pastors, I would say, go back to the call. Don’t forget that. When it gets hard and it will go back to the call. God is still with you. The call is still on. You’ve not violated what he saw in you. And the deal is still on. And go back to that sweet place.
Most Christian songwriters will tell you that there was a moment sitting before the Lord when they just wept. And the better they get at songwriting, the less they weep.
Jon: Wow. That’s really good.
Marcus: And so many of them have to come back to that sweet place where they just sit before the Lord and weep. And they-
Jon: Yeah. I didn’t mean to interrupt you. It’s like this combo between the gift that God has given us and the anointing that comes along with it. And when you combine those two things, spectacular things happen. And we’ve all seen leaders over the years that the anointing goes away, but their gift carries them on. But you’ll run out of gas really fast if you’re just operating in your gift alone without the anointing.
Jon: You’ve hit the goal.
Marcus: It’s a lot of touchdown burnout.
Marcus: Yeah, it’s got to be both.
Jon: Yeah. It’s really good.
Marcus: It’s hard and most pastors are running so fast that I just wonder how. It seems to be more difficult to be a pastor in America.
Marcus: You read books from… I typically only read dead guys in the Bible, but they talk about different issues than American pastors do.
Marcus: The dead guys do.
Jon: Wow. There’s something to be said there.
Jon: Marcus, if our listeners want to get in touch with you, like maybe they’re interested in the Gateway network, maybe they pastor a church and they need a covering. Every pastor needs a pastor. And maybe there’s a pastor out there who’s doing it on their own. And they may say, “Man, I want to know about this Gateway network. I need community. I need oversight. I need help. How can they get in touch with you or your office?
Marcus: You can go to the GatewayPeople.com website, navigate over to the church network, or you can go to GatewayChurchNetwork.com-
Marcus: … and there’s an application there. If you just want to have a conversation, there’s a number there. Call us.
Marcus: We’d love to visit. I mean, we’re friends with anybody that wants to be friends, the church network or guys and gals that are a little closer because they want to be. But if you just need a friend and don’t want to join the network, no problem. We’d love to be your friend.
Jon: He’s got a great team of leaders that are all former lead pastors that can help mentor you and train you and come alongside you.
So Marcus, thank you for being on the show today.
Marcus: Thank you my friend. Honor to be invited.
Jon: It’s always fun to have you, man.
Jon: Appreciate you. Listeners, thank you again for joining us today. Again, share, share, share, share. We love you so much. We’re praying for you as you continue the ministry that God has you doing with your gifting and with your anointing. We love you. We’ll see you next time.