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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One Day’s Wages

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Collaboration.

col·lab·o·ra·tion
kəˌlabəˈrāSH(ə)n/
noun

the action of working with someone or a group of others  to produce or create something.

May we hold our logos, egos, and tribalism have their place. May we hold them loosely for they too shall pass. May we collaborate for the sake of the greater Kingdom of God ... which endures forever. As we honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., don't forget the God behind the man. The one true God who deposited this dream into MLK is still speaking to us today. Are we listening?

Be courageous. Be brave.

Being invited by the King Family to speak at the MLK worship service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in 2016 remains one of the most unexpected honors of my life. On the right is his daughter, Dr. Bernice King and his sister, Dr. Christine King Farris. Walking throughstreet markets in different parts of the world is the best. Soaking in the culture. Listening to the local language and music. Enjoying the amazing cuisine. Meeting new friends. Praying for the Gospel to penetrate. #ChiangRai Blessed be the local, indigenous leaders for it is they who live in the very communities they seek to love. For it is they who understand their context and culture...better than a Westerner ever will. For it is they who will continue to tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love when visitors like me leave.

Yes, blessed be the local, indigenous leaders. What an honor and privilege to celebrate with the on-the-ground local @thefreedomstory team to celebrate the recent opening of their Education and Resource Center for the local youth in Chiang Rai, Thailanf. This was made possible through a partnership and matching grant by @onedayswages and The Freedom Story.

While it was an honor to be there to cut the cord and say a few words, this is an example of collaboration. Much love to the Freedom Story team including their co-founders Tawee Donchai and @Rachel Goble, to their staff who live in the community, who understand their context and culture, and who tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love. And of course, much love to the students themselves for they each matter. Finally, to each person that donated to @onedayswages to make this grant possible.

May hundreds and even thousands of youth be impacted, encouraged, and mentored. May they capture a glimpse of God's love for them.

Photo: @benjaminedwards Part 2 on my wrestling with the complex issue of human trafficking. In part, documenting my trip to Thailand for @onedayswages...to listen, learn, and visit one of our partner orgs @thefreedomstory. More to come.

There's such painful and poignant irony in pursuing justice...unjustly. One way we do this is when we reduce people into projects...and thus, propagating the dangerous power dynamic of US as heroes and THEM as helpless and exclusively as victims. So dangerous.

Human trafficking is not just an issue. It’s ultimately, about people. Depending on the sources of statistics, there are anywhere from 29-40 million people in some form of forced labor and slavery, including sex trafficking.

And one thing I’ve learned, personally, is how easy it is easy to reduce people into projects which is why mutuality, reciprocity, and dignity are so vital. These are critical because God never intended people to be reduced into projects.

We forget this and we indirectly foster a culture and system of victimization or worse, the pornification of the poor or in this case, "the trafficked." And when you start dehumanizing the poor or trafficked, you have no genuine desire to build relationships with them. You believe or build stereotypes in broad strokes, singular, black and white narratives that have been told about them. You believe the lie that they have nothing to teach us and are incapable of contributing to the larger society.

Lord, break our hearts for the things that break your heart. Give us eyes to see others through your eyes. Give us humility so that we acknowledge our own need to learn and grow. (Photo via @thefreedomstory)

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