What is a “Rogue Pastor?”
This LGBT advocate/writer/husband/father is also a pastor at North Raleigh Community Church in North Carolina. Next month he’s launching a virtual — and literal — place of hope and acceptance. This place has been named “The Table,” and Pavlovitz describes it as “Christian community for all people.”
“The idea is to bring together a diverse group of people to share their stories and to grow in their faith in a welcoming, nonjudgmental environment. The site will feature teachings from a variety of pastors, writers, and authors, as well as a user content section where members of the community can contribute.”
We got wind of John’s work and had some questions for him. Lucky for us, he had more than just answers to offer; he also gave us inspiration.
1. You call yourself a “Rogue Pastor” which in a way, says it all. Was there ever a time when you were simply a pastor or have you always been “rogue?” If not, tell us about the process of going or becoming “rogue.”
The term “Rogue Pastor” was coined by a radio show host I spoke to here in the States and in stuck! I use it a bit tongue-in-cheek, but honestly it also speaks to my pastoral heart as well. One of the things that happens to many pastors and church staffers as they serve, is that over time they begin to become homogenized. They are gradually conditioned to respond to people and situations in a very narrow way as defined by their denomination or their peers. They learn what the “party line” is, and they learn how to speak that language well, even if it does not match their convictions.
I never had intentions of entering ministry growing up, and was sort of pulled in after I had already begun a successful secular career. I was a reluctant servant! That always made me feel like a bit of an outsider in pastoral circles. I think my perspective and agenda have always been a little different because of that. I’ve always felt like I was pushing the local faith communities where I have served into deeper, wider places. I’ve always had a heart for the outcast and ignored. So that rogue idea in a way feels very appropriate. It’s not about doing my own thing, but about following what I believe to be God’s voice in my life, even if it means diverging from the expected path.
I think that is one of the greatest challenges a pastor; to keep the purity of that calling.
2. What do you feel is the biggest challenge young LGBT people face today, right now and how can the larger community step in to be supportive?
Silence is always going to be the greatest enemy of people who are marginalized or mistreated by those in power. The LGBT community understands this, as do those who love and support them. The greatest thing that the larger community can do is to speak loudly into injustice, corruption, or unhealthy systems wherever they see them. LGBT people face great risk to be authentic and we who support them should risk to do so.
Thankfully, social media is providing more of a venue for that, where people can more easily shine a bright light into those dark places. As an LGBT ally, that’s what I’ve tried to do with the blog and online ministry; to speak into the areas of need, open up difficult but necessary conversation, and hopefully give others a nudge to do the same.
3. If you could offer one bit of advice to the LGBT community — young or mature — what would that be?
Keep going. There are people in all walks of life and all sectors of society who love and support you. It can be difficult to remember that when the hateful voices are the loudest or get the most attention, but they are there. Be encouraged as you experience difficulty and realize that you are not alone.
In addition to all his other projects, John also has a blog, “Stuff That Needs to Be Said.” Check it out for more info on The Table.
Is your church community LGBT-friendly?
HELP US DIRECT OUR COMMUNITY TO THOSE WITH OPEN DOORS.