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52 Godly Men : Men of Today Teaching the Men of Tomorrow » My Journey » Week 9: Managing a Church

Week 9: Managing a Church

Jason Browning

Is it possible for a Florida fan and a Tennessee fan to peaceably eat lunch together? Apparently yes, because that is what I did today. I got the pleasure of spending some time with the associate pastor of my church, Jason Browning. He is arguably the biggest Gators fan in the state of Tennessee. I had seen him preach occasionally (those are my favorite Sundays), but I had never actually spent time talking with him before, so I was looking forward to it. It started off on a good note; as soon as I entered his office at the church, I felt right at home. I admired the alligator head he had on his shelf, and instead of doing the whole “hi, how are you? My you are looking tall!” thing, we just started talking.

He said that this was usually about the time that he ate, and he asked me if I had ever been to Lupi’s. I said no, I hadn’t, but when he mentioned the fact that they’re a pizza place, I was ready to go. When we had ordered a large pizza for the two of us (Jason is 6’3” and I’m always hungry),  we started talking. I asked him what an associate pastor does, and he said that when he was hired by the church, he was supposed to take on a ministerial role, training the pastoral staff and stuff like that. But because of some changes in staff, he became more of the person who would deal with the physical building: leaky roofs, busted light bulbs, etc. He approves/disapproves purchases, signs paychecks, and basically does the heavy lifting so the pastor doesn’t have to.

He also decides whether or not to give stuff to people off the street.  His #1 rule is nobody goes hungry or naked. However, sometimes there are people just trying to take advantage of churches. If Jason just gave people money, then the ones who are trying to gyp the church could go and buy drugs. But because he says, “Hey, let’s go to Wendy’s and grab a burger,” then sometimes those people back down. Of course, the real homeless people would take the food willingly.

Jason told me that the reason he loves his job is because there are so many variables, and each day is pretty much different. However, sometimes it does have its drawbacks. For instance, this Sunday it was after the morning services, and Jason was taking a snooze when the phone rang. It was the police, saying “someone just crashed a camper on your property.” So he left his nap and drove over to sort things out. Then that night at 10 p.m., he got a call from a woman who was part of the church and whose mother was dying. She didn’t have money for a hotel to see her mom one last time and wanted Jason to help her out. You get the picture- interesting, but busy.

Then I asked how he became the associate pastor. He said that he was a school teacher for two years, and also the chaplain for the basketball team, but God just kind of steered him away from that and into ministry work. It is so cool how God works like that. Some people think that they just need to sit tight and wait for God to work in their life, and in some cases that is true. But most of the time, you need to start moving in a direction, and if God wants to make an adjustment, he will redirect your path.

Next I asked how he made it through his teenage years. He said that it was hard, because even though he is a big guy now, it took him until 9th grade to be over 100lbs. He also had a set system of what was right and what was wrong, and he was made the butt of a lot of jokes because of that (his five foot three inch height didn’t help matters either). However, he was very connected with his local church, and that was where his social outlet was. So the reason he made it through his teenage years was because of his faith in God and his life in the church.

Lastly, I asked what some of his most foolish and wisest decisions ever were. In reply he said that his wisest decisions have been getting saved and marrying his wife. His most foolish were when he decided that just-above average was good enough, and whenever he would make decisions out of fear.

Jason is a great guy with a sense of humor to match, and he can relate to and make friends with anybody. I hope someday I will have a chance to spend some more time with him, because he’s the kind of guy who can help with just about anything. Even if you aren’t a Gators fan.

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