This continues my pondering about the Overnighters program after watching the director’s cut of a documentary by the same name.
Your worldview controls how you view everything in the world
Your worldview filters everything you see and think. It drives how you interpret everything around you.
You take your worldview with you into every conversation.
Mr. Jesse Moss, who created, filmed, and directed the documentary, has stated several times in articles I have read that he is not a Christian. If I understood his comments correctly he is not a follower of any faith tradition. I do not state that to be critical in any way; I merely wish to identify his worldview.
In case it was not previously obvious, I will share with you that I am a Christian. In particular I worship in a denomination that is a part of the Protestant community. I do not hesitate to say that my worldview filters everything I see and how interpret everything around me.
Back to the documentary.
What was the pastor’s motivation?
There are so many ways to interpret Jay Reinke’s motivations for running the Overnighters program. The movie vaguely implies and most reviewers gently conclude that what happened in the surprise ending is actually what drove his compassion for the men arriving in Williston without a place to stay.
This interpretation is driven by the worldview of those reaching that conclusion.
Missing from that interpretation is an understanding of Christianity and what drives followers of that faith tradition to do what they do.
A huge portion of Christians are motivated to help people who are struggling or hurting or floundering. During the course of my work as CPA serving the nonprofit community, I have had contact with dozens and dozens of pastors and churches. I have worked with believers from many traditions across the entire Christian community.
The overwhelmingly large majority of believers I have worked with in the last several decades would have helped out as much as they possibly could if they were in the same situation as this church and pastor.
Unfortunately, there are churches and pastors I’m aware of who would take the same approach that every other church did in Williston. While the church featured in the documentary got heat from the community and criticism from viewers of the documentary, keep in mind they were involved. In spite of their internal conflict, the congregation voted for the overnighters program twice.
Based on my fractional knowledge, there were zero churches in Williston that exerted as much as 1 ounce of effort to help newcomers. I think Concordia Lutheran was the only church involved. No one else helped. If I missed something, please let me know.
What motivated this pastor and church to help out people who are struggling to get on their feet? Christian love and compassion. That is the motivation.
Concern for others was the motivator for this former pastor, apart from what was revealed about him at the end of the movie. That is what led him to say he loves other people who are struggling and broken.
The former pastor said on camera that he is broken, like these men were broken. Be careful what your worldview reads into that comment. Don’t automatically link it to the surprise ending. If you had a heart-to-heart talk with any of the Christian pastors I know, you would quickly hear agreement with the idea that he or she is a frail and broken human.
Strong directives from the Bible to love your neighbor is what motivates people to care for people trying to get on their feet. That love of others is the underlying driver behind everything done by every church and parachurch ministry I have ever worked with. That love expresses itself in a wide variety of ways, but the driver is a deep concern for others.
That’s the interpretation my worldview provides.
We each interpret the documentary through our worldview
There is enough material in the documentary, and it is presented objectively enough, that you can see whatever you want to see. Just filter through your worldview.
I think Jay Reinke made a similar point in the director’s cut. He suggested you can impute to him whatever motivation you wish.
In fact, share with me your overarching world view and I can, with a high confidence level, tell others how you interpret this documentary.
Next: Part 3.