Ask a Pastor Ep. 55 - Fear, Healthy Marriages, Church Gender Demographics

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This episode our Strip Disctrict Campus Pastor, Joel Haldeman, talks with Life Stage Pastor and Director of Men's Ministry, Mike Hatch, about fear, healthy marriages, and church gender demographics.

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Transcript

Joel Haldeman: Welcome to Ask a Pastor. We're going to be tackling some questions that you have written in. If you have a question, send them in to askapastor@orchardhillchurch.com.

Joel Haldeman: Today I'm joined by Mike Hatch, who is one of our life stage pastors and has been involved in lots of different areas of ministry, and let's go ahead and jump in to the first question. Number one, Mike, I'm sure you've never struggled with this in your entire life. The question is, how should I address fear?

Mike Hatch: I'm kind of scared right now, Joel. No, of course I have dealt with this issue. I think anybody has dealt with this issue. There all sorts different realms that we might deal with this. You have fear. Of course you got to ... Is it fear for your life? Is it fear for your safety? Is it fear because the circumstances are overwhelming and feel out of control? Typically, we fear that we might lose something or that we might get what we don't want basically, right? If you boil it down, that's kind of the, I guess primal two things that are at the root of fear.

Joel Haldeman: And fear is a primal thing, right? It's a core of the sins.

Mike Hatch: Yeah. Oh yeah, exactly. Exactly. It's one of those ... So I kind of think of it as being an indicator, as if you're looking at your dashboard on your car in a sense. All sorts of different emotions can operate as indicators to us to hopefully direct us to something. So when you feel fear, in its primal sense, often it means you're in danger. Is it time to run? Is it time to fight? Fight or flight. Is it time to protect yourself? What is it that's going on? But it's an indicator to identify something that's going on around you in your circumstances.

Mike Hatch: Now, with regard to this question, my guess is that this person, they're not specific in terms of what they ask as far as fear, but I guess it probably comes from a more spiritual perspective. So what are some ways we can fear from a spiritual perspective? Maybe it's we fear God's judgment or punishment, or maybe we fear that we're not in the place where we should be, maybe where God wants us, or maybe we fear that our sins or our past may find us out, the different things that I think we often fear. So it's a broad question. Do you know what I mean? I certainly relate to all those different kind of examples.

Mike Hatch: I would go to first John is one of the places. You probably know where I'm going right off immediately, because this is what I think about. In first John chapter four, he's talking about God's love for us. And near the end of chapter four ... Let me see ... around verse 16 he says, "God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment.".

Mike Hatch: So interesting there because confidence in the day of judgment, just talking about the fact that fear, really all the core fear from a spiritual perspective and our relationship with God comes from I think what it says here, fear of judgment. Will we be judged? Will we be held accountable for our sin, ultimately? And it says, "In this world, we are like Jesus," which basically means there's all sorts of struggles we're facing on an everyday basis just like Jesus went through different struggles. But it says in verse 18, then it goes on, it says, "There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love."

Mike Hatch: And so I think if we're talking about an eternal spiritual, if you want to go primal that direction, really our fear ultimately is of God, of his judgment for our sins or punishment or coming before him and having to account for our sin. And the beautiful thing about the Gospel is that that judgment has already been taken through Christ dying on the cross for us. And that's where perfect love has come in and in a sense, destroyed those consequences that we might otherwise face because of our sin. And so now when we appropriate that perfect love in our lives and we demonstrate trust in Christ and his sacrifice for us, at the most primal levels we're talking about, the reason for fear has been removed, right?

Joel Haldeman: Yeah, yeah. That's good.

Mike Hatch: But it's hard to live that. It's hard to live that in actually in everyday practical ways, to actually live out that freedom in that.

Joel Haldeman: When I think of fear, the word insecurity comes to mind and I think of ... Maybe you saw the new Aladdin movie, right, where he's in the cave of wonders or whatever and everything's turning to lava and he's standing on these pillars of rock that are shaking and it's like, is he going to fall and die? He doesn't.

Mike Hatch: No. Don't give it away, right?

Joel Haldeman: And so this is how we feel sometimes. But what Christ does in the Gospel is it's like he sets us on solid ground, right? And there is no shaking in our world. So then even when the circumstances around us begin to shake, we can have confidence that we are firmly planted on Christ, our rock, and that means that we have this firm identity in him. We have this inheritance in heaven. And so that means it doesn't matter what people say about us. It means our finances, we don't have to stress out about them because we have this inheritance and all these things that just put us on firm ground.

Mike Hatch: Yeah, exactly. And so then yeah hopefully the different challenges we encounter in life as we go along, we can meet those things with confidence knowing that God has taken care of the most foundational fundamental issue we have to struggle with. And then also, I think also is that the more we demonstrate our trust in God and come at certain situations or challenges or trials and really engage in them and maybe there are different things in how we deal with those things where God might be asking us to step out in certain ways to trust him. And as we do that, and we experience God coming through and being faithful over and over and over and over again, it strengthens our faith but then also helps us to move forward and deal with the next situation maybe with less fear and more trust in God.

Joel Haldeman: Yeah. My answer, how should I address fear, is a super churchy and very simple one and it's read the Bible. If this is somebody who is just struggling with fear on a continual basis, man, start in Genesis and read through the entire Bible. Buy yourself a new Bible, underline or mark it up every time somebody is responding in fear, because that is the story of humans. From Genesis 3, the first thing, right, is Adam and Eve hide from God. The very end of the Bible we see in Revelation, it's the kings and the strong ones of the earth, they run and they hide in caves and they cry out for the mountains to fall on them so that they don't have to face God. And of course, John, who's right in that book, what's he do? He's on his face before this angel or whatever that's giving him this revelation. And so this is the story of humans. We are always afraid, but we find our confidence in Christ.

Mike Hatch: I love that. Yeah. The bible, from what I have said in the past, is it's God's interpretation of human history. It's him looking at history and telling us exactly what ... kind of pulling back the curtain and looking behind the scenes to see where he has been working all this time. And you're right. So when we immerse ourselves in God's word and understand his grander narrative, especially, that he's working out his plan of redemption throughout all of human history, suddenly it does help to give some security knowing that these issues and struggles and conflicts we might be facing in our life are not devoid of God's presence and his involvement in it, right? We're not alone in it. So that's well-said. I totally agree. The other thing I would say, too, in terms of fear, is often we fear because we are isolated and often I think we need to be in God's word. We also need to be in community with other people, so that I think can help us get outside of our own heads and help correct our perspectives.

Joel Haldeman: Most common command in the Bible, "Do not be afraid.".

Mike Hatch: "Fear not." That's right. That's right. Yep.

Joel Haldeman: All right. Jumping into question number two, what is the most important thing about a healthy God-honoring marriage?

Mike Hatch: God. I say that, but I would say ... I'm saying this more and more because I feel it myself too, but there's a desperate dependence on God. Often we come into marriage and we're excited about this other person, as we should be, and your confidence often comes from that infatuation, that this person who I think is really cool is responding to me and really loves me can pump my ego up in certain ways, that it becomes more about me. And then when you get into the marriage and you start living your life together, you realize that, "Oh, shoot. They're not as good as I thought. I'm not as good as I thought.".

Mike Hatch: I can't tell you how many people have come to me and said that they ... If you want to learn how sinful you are, get married and then secondly, have kids. But get married if you want to understand how sinful you are and how selfish you are, because then you have to be dependent on God's grace, which is really the foundation of it. So I know maybe that might sound like a cop out to some people and there's more to kind of unpack maybe in that, but that's my initial response.

Joel Haldeman: I was just thinking of Ephesians 5 where Paul gives us this model of marriage and he says, "Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church." And so my answer is just right there with yours. I would just say that Christ is the center of it, that in our marriages, whether you're the husband or the wife, that we are seeing our role in that marriage as modeling what Christ has done. So that's my super generic churchy answer. But when we do premarital counseling, people do this survey called dare and then they get scored on where they're compatible or whatever, wherever their answers are, like, "We need to talk about this," and it gives us these categories. My opinion is, when I look at that, the most important one is the communications piece, because communication is how we resolve every issue. When it gets down to sex and the in-laws and kids, if you don't have communication figured out, you're not going to be able to deal with all those disagreements.

Mike Hatch: And at the different stages of marriage, to start out as a newlywed, kid number one, kid number two, et cetera, you run into different challenges, unique challenges at each one, that kind of you have to fall back again and bring up that whole issue of communication like you said. And there are new communication challenges associated with that. I totally agree. And again, if you're not plugged in or appropriating God's grace in your own life and your own heart, then it's going to be really hard to have grace for the one you're married to.

Mike Hatch: But it's interesting as you say that because I just looked back at the question. It says, "A healthy God-honoring marriage." So I wonder if the assumption in this question is that they're Christians already and maybe have some ... although it's not bad to be reminded of the grace we're desperate for, but I think what you said in terms of communication is huge with that, and I think also a continual ... People aren't intentional. It's so funny. I've heard of other cultures that do arranged marriages and they describe it as they get married to date. In our culture instead, we date to marry. You know what I mean? And again, I think we go, so often we move into marriage with this natural momentum, which I think is a gift to help us be excited about everything because you run into some really hard things, but at some point you have to switch and become intentional about communication, about spending time together, connecting together because a woman wants to know a man's heart and a man really wants to be known. And what's interesting is they both want to be known, but that connection time is just so critical.

Joel Haldeman: Yeah. So let's do this. Let's think about three different sort of life stages and real briefly, just one piece of advice to that person. Think of the person in their early 20s not in a relationship right now. What do they need to do to ensure that they're going to end up in a God-honoring marriage?

Mike Hatch: Communication. I think that's so key because as guys, you usually come into a marriage, especially when you're young like that, behind in your emotional IQ, your emotional EQ, if that makes sense, but your emotional acumen. Guys aren't used to pulling stuff out of their hearts and verbalizing. Women do that all the time. And as a guy, you're starting from behind. So I think that's one of the most important things. Learn to start pulling that stuff out. Even if it doesn't sound right or come out right, do it and it will pay dividends later on.

Joel Haldeman: So somebody who's in a new marriage, maybe let's say two Christians just got married, they want to start forming that healthy God-honoring marriage.

Mike Hatch: Communication is probably the top priority, I would say. Yeah.

Joel Haldeman: Okay. And then somebody who, let's say the person writing this question is just feeling this strain, like they're not in a God-honoring marriage. The other person who didn't write this question doesn't really care about it being a God-honoring marriage. This person does. What do you say to that person?

Mike Hatch: That's a great question. Okay, so one of the things that Paul, and I'm forgetting the reference right now, but Paul talks about the fact that sometimes in your love for that person, if it's God-honoring or if it comes from that appropriation of God's grace in your heart already, when you love that other person self-sacrificially, unconditionally, it can actually sometimes draw that person closer to God themselves and reflect God's love to them. And so it's going to be a daily self-sacrificial kind of thing, and that that's tough because if you're a Christ follower, if you're Christian and the other person is not, they're not going to meet your expectations of a God-honoring marriage in the first place, so you kind of have to back off of that a little bit, and I would say pray really hard for your spouse as well.

Joel Haldeman: Yeah, yeah. That's good. And you're not going to be able to do that alone. So talk to Mike about getting into a life group, because you will need support in that sense.

Mike Hatch: That's it. Definitely. Definitely.

Joel Haldeman: All right. Good answers.

Mike Hatch: Thanks.

Joel Haldeman: Let's jump into number three. This is a doozy of a question.

Mike Hatch: Yes, it is.

Joel Haldeman: Why in most churches are there more women than men and what can be done about it?

Mike Hatch: So first of all, I'm really grateful at Orchard Hill that I would say for the most part, this isn't necessarily true. I would say there's a lot of men here, but I know by and large in churches around the country, you do see typically more women than men. I've heard some people say that it's because of a feminization, if you will, of the church, that some of the worship songs for example appeal more to the feminine heart than to the masculine heart. I've heard some people say that guys don't have as much to do, that often guys will be drawn to church startup, and then once things are kind of set in a managerial kind of phase that you're just kind of maintaining things, that women begin to ... More common, men ... because men want to blaze the trail. We want to be used. We want to be active.

Joel Haldeman: And we poke fun at the sort of "Jesus is My Boyfriend" songs sometimes, right?

Mike Hatch: Yes, exactly.

Joel Haldeman: Sometimes we need a sword underneath the seat in front of us so we can raise it in the air and have that Braveheart moment of like-

Mike Hatch: That's right.

Joel Haldeman: "We're doing this."

Mike Hatch: That's exactly right. And so I do think that for churches to have things for just guys to do physically, to go and do together, guys, it's in our hearts, it's in our DNA to be shoulder to shoulder working on something together. There's something very special about that for guys that draw us together. And I think for women, they enjoy that as well I know, but I think for women they want a more secure place, a place that's safe, that they can be themselves. And again, both of those apply to both sexes I would say. But for men, man, we really want to do some things, engage together, and yeah, do some things together shoulder to shoulder. Yeah.

Joel Haldeman: Yeah. So the question is, what can be done about it? I mean, you've already done some things. We know that we're living in a day where manhood is not celebrated. It's not lifted up. Homer Simpson is sort of like the father figure of our day, right? And how many kids are born into families without a father present? And so I think there's two sort of things at play here. It's what's happening in society as a whole, not to blame society, because as men, this is like our primary ... Our sin or temptation, right, is to give up our call to leadership and to manhood and to let somebody else do it. So it's society, it's men, but then what do we do in the church?

Mike Hatch: Right. And it's funny. So you can back all the way up to, throughout history, men have often used power and authority to abuse, specifically women. And you could even argue that the women's movement in the 20th century was birthed out of this sense in, in women that's like, "We're sick of this, being abused by men." And as you look forward, though, now it's interesting, this next generation, this millennial generation specifically, there have been, a lot of women I'm seeing are almost calling out for the strong men again, are calling out for those men to kind of say, "I don't want to soft man. I want a man who's going to take charge, who's going to assert his manhood in certain ways," not in abusive ways for sure.

Mike Hatch: So you're right. I think there's a desire from women in our culture, so what to do about that? I would say I think we need models of manhood. Very, very important to have models of manhood. We have a lot of men today who maybe have been either fatherless or their fathers are not around as much and we have bad examples, but I think we really need good models of manhood, whether it be the pastor, whether it be just bringing men up on a regular basis in a sense as examples of what true manhood is and giving other men ... We as men also need hooks to hang our hats on it in a way.

Mike Hatch: I loved Robert Lewis' Four Principles of Manhood that he would talk about. For me personally, I love that because it gave me something to kind of define manhood, you know what I mean? And the more examples and those practical ways we can give other men to kind of look up at certain men as examples, I think that that's huge because that's how we as men learn too is from other guys and being mentored and those kinds of things.

Joel Haldeman: One of the things that you and I have both had conversations about is how do we start some programs in the church that are like, not just come sit in a circle and talk about our feelings but let's put a 50 pound weight on our back and see how far we can hike, and in the strip district, we're in the middle of planning a trip. We're going to hike two 14,000 foot mountains in Denver ... not Denver ... in Colorado. I'm so pumped for it.

Mike Hatch: Oh, that's amazing.

Joel Haldeman: And you've got lots of stuff like that going on.

Mike Hatch: Yeah, sure.

Joel Haldeman: I mean, tell us about some of that stuff.

Mike Hatch: So we've done some GoRucks. GoRuck is a organization where you go, you put a pack on a ruck ... It's a military term ... with a weighted backpack and you do a hike. And we did it ... Gosh, a couple guys here did a hike for like 24 hours. It was all night. Yeah, it was incredible. And it's meant to be a teamwork, team building thing, and guys like suffering together. There's something about that really inspires men and tests their resolve.

Mike Hatch: We've done that. We've done other things here where we've done some interactive Bible studies and things where we experienced these challenges every week for example. And so we might be studying something in journey but then challenge guys to say, "Hey, this week, these are the things we're going to do to actually exercise what we're learning," maybe in relationship with our wives or kids, at work, all these kinds of things. And the cool thing is, is as a group of men, we know that we're all doing this together, these common challenges together, which helps create some synergy and know that you're not in it alone, that you're not isolated, but we're all working together to do these things. But like you said, I love it, to challenge yourself to be active, take what we're learning in the word and really put it to work where the rubber meets the road in our lives.

Joel Haldeman: Yeah. And to the women and wives that are listening, when these sorts of things come up on the church calendar, men's retreats especially, do everything that you can to encourage your husband to be there because that's really important just to build a stronger manhood within the church. And we've both seen that those events are some of the most significant moments of ministry and development in people, that you would give up 15 weeks of Sunday morning to have one weekend together with men.

Mike Hatch: Yeah, I agree.

Joel Haldeman: Well, thank you, Mike. Great answers, great questions. If you have any other questions, send them to us at askapastor@orchardhillchurch.com.