Money Taboo

Nothing makes me feel quite as vulnerable as talking about money. It is taboo, it is embarrassing, and yet it is also necessary.

Over the last week I have been trying to build up my support team for my new job with GOHOP. I’m in the process of sending out emails asking friends, family, and strangers to consider being part of my monthly support team. As you push “send” you feel so exposed, raw and open to criticism. As responses come in you realize you still have a lot of work to do but you also feel reassured as people (regardless of whether they can give) send encouraging words.

This isn’t the first time I have had to do this. When I was the pastor of The Commons (a little Mennonite Church plant) this was a yearly rhythm. I remember the first time I stood up and asked my church friends to consider tithing (a spiritual practice of giving a percentage). After I explained the budget and asked everyone to consider what they could give, the first person who ran up to me to talk was one of the people I felt bad about asking (I knew they didn’t have a lot of money). This person was so excited to be asked but then confessed “I have felt so bad about never being able to give. I have been stuck in a cycle of PayDay loans and I’m in so much debt.” Being open about talking about my own financial needs broke the money taboo and my friend could now talk about their debt. On multiple occasions as a pastor these fundraising conversations led to conversations about debt. Each time I was able to refer people to debt counseling and watch them become unburdened by their money secret and work to be free from their debt.

As I am once again awkwardly asking for money I’m leaning into my past learnings about being willing to talk openly and honestly about money. If you have your own experiences about talking about money I would love to hear them.

If you are curious about my own financial support goals check out:

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Not just one thing!

Nobody is just one thing. I’m an: artist, a musician and a punk monk with GOHOP. I have also been a pastor with The Commons, an outreach worker with RE-create , and a youth coach & manager with the Living Rock. I’m also a son, a husband and a dad. None of us are just one thing.

Even God in the Christian faith is represented in trinity as:

  1. God the Father (Parent, Mother, Creator…)
  2. God the Son (Jesus, Messiah…)
  3. God the Holy Spirit (Holy Ghost, Councilor, Spirit of Peace…)

Over the next while I’m going to be working to try and embrace more of my multifaceted identity online. Often we divide ourselves up online because we are scared that our whole self will be offensive to our diverse networks. We don’t want to offend so we zero in on a single segment of ourselves that we feel is most broadly relatable.

This self editing is exhausting so I’m intentionally going to let the lines blur by drawing in an art journal about what is happening in my life. A drawing can be more widely interpreted than my own personal experience so it is specific to me but open enough to be received by a diverse audience.

If one of these post fits with your experience that is wonderful, if you see something totally different than what I intended, that is also wonderful.

Thanks for coming along for the ride. Feel free to check out my Art Journal Page or follow along in Facebook or Instagram.

Pastor Randy is taking a job with GOHOP

After 10 years as the pastor of The Commons, I have accepted a new job as part of Greater Ontario House of Prayer (GOHOP). On Sunday October 4th, 2020, at there will be a special Zoom Gathering celebrating my ministry at The Commons.

Here is the announcement I made at The Commons Online Gathering on Sunday August 30th, 2020:

“Over the last year The Commons has been on a pretty intense discernment journey, which resulted in the partnership between The Meeting Place & The Commons. With the support of The Commons’ leadership (Krista, Matt and Jeanette) as well as Sue Carr (the pastor of The Meeting Place) I have been on my own discernment journey this summer.

The end result is that I feel strongly called into something new and I have accepted a staff position with GOHOP (Greater Ontario House of Prayer). This means I’ll be transitioning from the pastor of The Commons to being one of GOHOP’s urban prayer “Monks” (for lack of a better word), but my kids say they won’t be telling their friends that my new job is being a “prayer monk.” They will just keep telling people I’m a pastor.

I think it is important to give a little context and unpack things when you toss around words like “personal discernment” or “feeling called.”

God has been doing something new in my life for a while now. There has been a shift in my spiritual walk. I have found myself engaging with God in dramatic ways over this last year through practices like listening prayer, silence, gospel contemplation, and discernment prayer. GOHOP has been a great resource in these areas for me and I have found myself naturally trying to connect people to these practices though GOHOP’s ministry. At first I was very surprised that Holy Spirit things were happening to me on a regular basis. I have come to recognize something familiar in the “arrival” of these new gifts and experiences and it reminds me very much of when I first became the pastor of The Commons.

11 years ago my church was going through a large transition. The founding pastor had moved on and we were looking for a denominational home to join. During that time I found that some strange things were happening inside me. I had a new set of spiritual gifts arising and I was quickly functioning as The Commons’ unofficial pastor. We looked for a transitional pastor to lead us through the process of replanting but we were advised it would be better to hire one of our own lay leaders. All of a sudden my unofficial role as lay pastor turned into that of professional pastor.  As I think back to that time, I realize I was “being a pastor” before I was called and hired to “be the pastor.”

I am struck by the similarity of my current journey. I feel like God has been giving me a new set of gifts, gifts that are good and exciting but that are something different than what I have been doing as the pastor of The Commons. To be completely honest this last year has been the hardest year I have ever had in ministry (and I have weathered some pretty dramatic changes and transitions over the years). In the midst of this difficulty, it has also been a year of great spiritual growth and awareness. As I think back to all the thin places where God had been breaking into my life they have all been increasingly in contexts like GOHOP. It is as if I have been starting to “live as a new monastic,” (like a prayer monk) before even realizing this might be the next stage in my ministry life.

God has always been one step ahead of my plan, giving the gifts and experiences needed just as they are required. For 15 years I have been so blessed to be part of The Commons in one way or another (with 10 of those years as the pastor). My journey with The Meeting Place has been much shorter, but it has been amazing to create these online gatherings together for the last 6 months with all my new & old friends. It has been a privilege to see these two communities come together in an amazing way in the middle of such strange times.

I am so thankful that The Commons and The Meeting Place both have a close and longstanding relationships with GOHOP. From my perspective, I see this not as a leaving but rather as a sending. My hope and prayer would be that you see it that way as well.”

If you are wanting to find out more about what GOHOP is all about, here is a great video of my friend Jill Weber (GOHOP founder and friend of The Commons) sharing her story.

Telling the Story from GOHOP on Vimeo.

LAST SEASON: I’m getting out of the t-shirt business!

This is the last season I’ll be selling T-shirts. If you would like to get one before they are gone come find me at the Makers’ Market on June 14th, Aug 9th, Sept 13th-15th, or Dec 6th-7th. I won’t be printing any more so what I have is what I have. Come early if there is a specific size or design you are looking for. Check out the Facebook Page for Makers Market for more details about the shows.

I’ve been designing t-shirts inspired by Hamilton since 2013. It all started with the Ivor Wynne shirt I made with Jen Kellner Benton. It was fun celebrating our city (and poking fun at how it was changing). For me it has always been more about making art than the business side of things. Somewhere along the way the business of making shirts got in the way of me being creative and making new pieces of art. That has changed this year and I have been focusing on my painting again. With that change happening, this will be my last Makers’ Market Season selling T-shirts. Come find me at Friday’s Art Crawl from 7-10pm in front of Christ’s Church Cathedral. If you own one of my shirts, wear it to show off how long you have been a “Hamilton Fan.” If you don’t have one of my shirts (or your old one is getting a little too worn) come out and get a shirt before they are gone. See you Friday.