A church is not a building. It is not about how nice the building looks. It is not about its interior. How grand the stage or how expensive the sound system. Even the pastor or founder is not the main draw or at all. Its programs and event attraction do not define the church. More relevantly, the church is not the melding together of people of one background, sharing one identity and culture, and worshipping under one roof. No. Not in my book. God has never intended the church to be so clear-cut, so simplistic. It’s not a modern-day Noah's ark where everybody is easily identifiable, and enter into its cavernous hall in adorable pairs with cozy lots neatly allocated to them. No way Hosea. On the contrary, the church is about stories. Many stories. Diverse stories. The stories are different because the experiences are different. They are life stories. These stories go deep into the heart of the matter. They are about individual struggles, endless pain, crippling losses, and disappointment and shame. The church is made up of these stories that are painstakingly unloaded, shared and exchanged among the congregation. And the pastor's role is to listen to them. He doesn't interrupt or impose. He doesn't insist that his story takes precedence over his member's. His weekly pulpit nostrum is not a universal panacea. It is not a one-size-fits-all indoctrination. His congregation comes to church to share their stories and not just to listen to his over the pulpit. A pastor therefore listens with a heart to understand. The pastor is not a magician, an event organizer, a corporate accountant or a fitness instructor. He is not obsessed with "making things happen", "bedazzling the crowd", "getting it right", "beating deadlines", "balancing the numbers" or "making everybody feel good about themselves". And surely, he is not there to make everybody feel good about him. He is given a place, a sacred place - regardless of its condition - and a time, kairos - regardless of its inconveniences - and he stands ready to pay attention, to understand, to stand in the gap, to serve with humility, and to never stop learning, even from the least of them. And in doing so, he confers dignity to each member's life, empowers their faith with hope, and disarms all resistance to them opening their hearts fully to the one story that timelessly transcends and enduringly heals all. That story is written in the blood that flows from Calvary. And the author of that story is Jesus. Cheerz.