Eugene Cho

my pastor is a janitor

During the first year of Quest, I was without salary and had tried so hard to obtain a job – any job – but I realized the painful truth that pastors [outside their jobs in churches] are useless in society.  I discovered that my Masters of Divinity degree…well…wasn’t really all that divine.   It was actually pretty useless.  After several months of looking for work, I finally landed a job as a janitor at a Barnes & Noble store in Lynnwood, Washington.

Not my idea of a “dream job.” It was one of the most difficult jobs and periods in my life – especially because this took place at a time when I thought I would be kicking ass in my “career” as a pastor.  Damn my hubris…

But I digress.  I want to introduce you to Jason Douros.  He’s sort of on staff at Quest Church as our custodian.  Why am I introducing you to our church’s custodian? 

Because the dude is an idiot.  He’s insane.  He’s stupid and crazy = Stupid Crazy.  And well, as a former janitor…I kinda understand this dude.

He and his wife, Pam, prays, wrestles, and obeys “conviction” to move out to Seattle from Maryland about a year ago to plant a church in West Seattle.  Don’t they know how unfriendly Seattle is to churches, christians, pastors, and anything that smells of religion?  And furthermore, they aren’t alone…they have three young children.  Parents who read this know how difficult it is to take steps of faith when infants and kids are involved.  These cats are stupid.  These cats don’t have cheezburgers.

While they were establishing roots and relationships, they were also looking for a church to worship and found their way to Quest.  Jason wanted to volunteer – even while working on the churchplant and after a conversation or two, Jason has been working as our part-time custodian or maintenance dude for the past several months. 

While he’s doing good work at Quest sweeping, vacuuming, scrubbing the toilet, and all the glorious stuff that your Masters of Divinity degree affords you, the churchplanting vision is slow-going but they keep having faith and moving along in their hopes of helping create a beautiful and vibrant church community in West Seattle.

Not many people know about them; Hardly anyone has heard about Ethos [their church name]; Jason likely won’t be a “superstar pastor”: won’t get a book deal, won’t be written about in magazines, and honestly, I don’t even know if their churchplant will be around a year from now.  Most don’t survive here in the Northwest.  But in a worldview where we gauge success by numbers, buildings, budgets, big helicopter egg drops, multi-sites campuses, and book deals…

Jason is a hero in my world.

99.9% percent of the world doesn’t know about Jason but you should.  Visit his blog and seriously, if you’re living in the West Seattle area or you know of some folks that do, give him a buzz.  You can contact him at info@douros.net.

I like Jason and he’s doing a good job as the janitor/maintenance dude at Quest but honestly, I’m looking forward to the day I can go Donald “You’re Fired” Trump on him so that he can devote full-time to the mission and vision of Ethos Church.

Filed under: religion, , , ,

25 Responses

  1. Bradley says:

    I’m also a pastor and have been reading your blog recently.

    Thanks for sharing about that there are many who are in ministry that aren’t superstars that are still loved by God.

    Hardest job? Umm, I’m doing it now.

  2. regeneratex says:

    Thanks for the post. Yep, my M.Div is as useless as a wet roll of toilet paper, lol. But I’m going to visit Jason’s blog and keep this crazy guy and his wife in prayer.

  3. Sounds like a great guy following the call Christ has put in front of him. As someone who has the longing in his heart to speak and teach the Word as a Pastor would I have to admit I’m envious of the two of you getting the call. (Yes, I know it’s a sin. I’m human and it’s hard not to be a little jealous and go “OK, God, why not me?” I know that I’m not ready yet and when it’s time God will blow the wind in the direction I’m to go but it’s still hard. And it’s hard not to be honest and transparent and say it gets me sometimes.)

    I’m praying for both of you today and I will try and check back to see how things are going with you and with Ethos.

  4. DK says:

    “These cats don’t have cheezburgers.”

    Dude, you are too funny.

  5. Nathan Hyde says:

    Great post! Thanks for highlighting this hero.

  6. jessie says:

    go jason!!! what a hard worker.

  7. David Park says:

    thank you. i have a new hero now.

  8. Scott says:

    when it all comes down to the dirt, isn’t it less about the manifestation of our mission for God (janitor, pastor, executive) and more about what God’s doing anyway?

    I now have a new silent mentor in your friend. Thanks for pointing him out.

  9. daniel so says:

    Eugene — Thanks for hanging out over lunch the other day. Hopefully, you’ve had some time to recover from the conference blitz (I listened in on the clip that DJ posted — good stuff).

    Thanks also for sharing about Jason. I certainly respect his courage and conviction to follow through on his calling, and how Quest has been a part of that. If you ever need a landscaper at your church, I’ve got plenty of experience (or van driver, assistant to the janitor, guitar string winder, etc.).

  10. David says:

    First church job: cleaning toilets. It wasn’t the hardest though. I got to come in during the week, crank my tunes, and release pent-up grad-school energy on the unsuspecting toilets.

    Hardest job: pulling weeds on my hands and knees. All summer. Sucked.

  11. Bruce says:

    I too am a pastor. I can relate to this story in so many ways, having been down that path, starting my own church against all odds. But that is not the best way i can relate to this story. I am Jason’s former pastor, where he and Pam humbly struggled to finish their bachelors and then master’s degree so he could one day become your janitor ;-). Jason quietly served behind the scenes: starting our youth ministry, starting a young adult ministry, waiting in an empty warehouse for contractors to show up during our build-out…

    This sunday i am teaching on humility. thank you for refreshing me, as a flood of memories are coming back as to how Jason modeled Jesus like humility, all for the Kingdom of God. Jason – i dedicate this Sunday’s message to you. – your Maryland pastor – Bruce

  12. Michelle Lisenbee says:

    Jason….you’re our hero out here, too. We miss you and Pam and the kids more than you know, but are glad you are doing what God has called you to. Even if it is cleaning toilets for now. 🙂

    Michelle

    PS: Are you doing that at home, too? ‘Cause then youd REALLY be my hero!

  13. beattieblog says:

    ok, well now I’m depressed after reading the first paragraph…guess what degree I’m closing in on. But having spent three years planting a Vineyard church in Seattle I can certainly identify with Jason and Pam. They really are heroes. It is without a doubt a very difficult task. And yes, it’s the hardest job I’ve ever had. I loved the experience and am still recovering from it. I pray that some of that Cho-and-Jesus-church-planting-mojo (to badly mix metaphors) will rub off on Jason.

  14. Marc Scott says:

    I’m glad to hear someone else agrees with me. Jason Douros and Pam are AMAZING! And they are also heroes and friends of mine… Maryland misses them but they are doing great things for the Kingdom of God!

  15. Jason Douros says:

    Wow is all I can say.

    Thanks so much for the encouragement and kind words Eugene and all those who have commented. I greatly appreciate it. It can be truly discouraging and disheartening sometimes when nothing seems to be moving even though you pour your heart, soul and sickening amounts of time and effort into it.

    Things like this are sometimes that little bit that gets you through those difficult days/weeks/months/years/decades. 🙂

    I never thought I’d be encouraged by being called an idiot though…somehow you made it work…a hidden talent perhaps?

    Thanks again to everyone.

    BTW: for the Quest guys out there reading…can you try to aim for the urinal? That would be really cool 😉

  16. Sean Martin says:

    Glad to see you’ve really gone places Jason :P.

  17. Jason's Mom says:

    Eugene, thanks so much for the wonderful post regrading my son and daughter-in-law. I have always known that Jason was a hero, and a documented almost genius (honest I have the test scores). I’ll take credit for his cleaning skills.

  18. me says:

    Geez, didn’t expect Jason’s mom to visit the blog. Now, I feel really bad I called you an idiot Jason. 🙂

  19. Becky says:

    I’ll also attest to Jason–I helped ordain him. And I’ll add my two cents about the “book deal” mentality. I love emerging and missional churches, feel we’re on the right track. But heavens to Betsy we’re kinda hung up on the book authoring stuff, aren’t we? Every time I listen to a podcast or go to a conference, speakers are talking about their latest books, and it seems you gotta have a book to be asked to speak in the first place. Meanwhile there are so many folks like Jason out there who are slogging it out in the trenches, known only by a few, doing their best, following their non-famous-making callings. We may not get the book deals, but I think we’ll hear “well done, good and faithful servant” some day. Go Jason and Pam!

  20. Joe Miller says:

    Right on… Jason is a good guy. I have an undergraduate degree in Engineering, ran a successful consulting business for more than a decade, and am now finishing my DMin. I am also a church planter who spent the first months of my “career” cleaning toilets for Safeway and our other pastor has a cleaning job at another church.

    Your post reminds me of an article I wrote some time ago entitled, “Created for Insignificance.

  21. Jason's Mom says:

    Eugene, since I attend Quest with Jason, Pam and kids, I know your use of “idiot”was not an insult. I will from now on view janitors in a different light. I also want the world to know that Jason’s extended family is totally supportative of his calling. I also want to thank everyone that answered your post with so many positive messages. Thanks to the Maryland connection, we miss you too.

  22. Laurie Meyers says:

    Jason, I know that you and Pammy and the kids are doing the right thing. It is hard to follow the call of God sometimes but in the end it is where the growing and enriching and the wisdom are built in you. It is what helps you become the man that God wants you to become. Yes I too helped with a lot of others to build a church in it’s infancy and had to clean toilets to help pay bills and send my kid to a good school etc….. this was a very well kept secret, but to tell you the truth just so much easier not to have to explain to everyone.

    But I learned alot doing it believe it or not. I learned that anything that we really want is worth doing what you have to do. I learned that helping to build a small church or any church, even maintaining a big or mature church is hard but it is the hard that makes it good. If it wasn’t hard anyone could do it. To quote a great movie “A League of Thier Own”. I also learned that once you get where you want to be people will think your got their so easily without any pain or sorrow or exhaustion or hurt or doing the mucky muck like cleaning other people’s toilets and they will tell you just how lucky you are. But you will know the truth and now because of this blog others will too. It takes strength, and courage, and a lot of faith and scrubbing and cleaning up other people’s messes.

    God has good things for you and Pam and your children. I know that for sure. Keep moving in God’s direction and I am already going to say it although it will mean alot more from the big guy. Well done, good and faithful servant. Keep your eyes on the future generation.

    Love,
    Aunt Laurie

  23. […] Seattle. They are doing cool, great things. Eugene painted a beautifully dark road getting there [my pastor is a janitor]. Gideon spoke truthfully about life at Vox Veniae and how messy it really […]

  24. […] My Pastor is a Janitor:  Not too many comments but enjoyed writing and sharing about our church’s custodian who happens to be a pastor of another church.   […]

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Thank you, Brooklyn, for the reminder. Umm, @jlin7 is a Christian but he wasn't very Christlike with me on the basketball court. He muscled me into the paint, dunked on me, mentioned my momma, and then said, "Stick with preaching." Just kidding. Kind of.

If you haven't heard, Jeremy Lin is donating his one games wages (approximately $140,000) and an additional $100 for every 3 pointer made to support Girls' Empowerment and Education through @onedayswages. That game is this Friday vs the Boston Celtics!

Join his campaign as he's inviting his fans to donate just $7. - http://onedayswages.org/jlin

Did you know that 32 million girls of lower secondary school age are not enrolled in school.

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#jeremylin #jlin #linsanity #onedayswages Don't be held captive to either praise or criticism.

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The answer to who you serve makes all the difference... It's the day after International Women's Day - and it's still important to celebrate the contribution of women in our lives, society, and world. As we honor women all around the world, I'm also reminded of how women and children are those who are most deeply impacted by injustice - especially poverty.

Sadly, I have witnessed this reality in too many places. ​In 2012, I traveled to a remote area in Eastern Kenya as part of a @onedayswages response to a famine that struck the Horn of Africa region. This famine impacted nearly 13 million people and according to some sources, took the lives of about 250,000 people. During my trip there, I had the chance of meeting many people but the person that still remains in my memory was a Muslim woman named Sahara.

She was so hospitable in inviting us to her small and temporary home. During our conversation, I learned that ​Sahara traveled 300 kilometers (a little under 200 miles) – some by cart and some by foot – as they sought to escape the worst drought that has impacted East Africa (Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia) in the past 60 years.

This is not a misprint.
200.

She traveled about 200 miles on cart and foot. ​And all along, she was ill. If you look closely ​at the photo, you might notice the large lump in her throat - likely a large cancerous tumor.​ She did not travel alone. She traveled with her husband who I was not able to meet because he was staying with one of his five other wives in this polygamist community.  She did not travel alone. She also traveled with her six children – the youngest being about 1 and the oldest being around 8. She had just given birth to her sixth child when they began her journey. Her youngest was severely malnourished when they arrived to this new settlement in a town called Benane. 
Sahara and her children all survived this journey. They survived because she persisted. 
In honor of Sahara...and so many other women who keep...keeping on. I have to remind myself of this every day...because I can forget every day:

Don't be lazy and make assumptions about people. Ask about their story. Then listen. Be humble. Be teachable. Be human. Be a good neighbor. It's a sad reality but our society runs on the currency of fear. Don't feed into this frenzy.

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