I am Not a Pastor and I Still Love the Church
So, for the first time in 18 years I have spent significant time not being a pastor, studying to be a pastor or hoping to one day be a pastor.
Actually, let’s analyze the numbers and see how accurate this is:
3: The number of years I spent in high school youth group wanting to be a youth pastor.
4: The number of years in Bible College I spent preparing to be a real pastor.
– 1: The number years I spent doing whatever I could to not be a pastor.
13: The number of years I spent actually being a pastor.
So, for the first time in a long time I am a normal, non-pastor-church-going person.
I pull no identity from some “ministry vocation.”
I’m not in “full-time ministry” – but let’s face it I never technically was since I always had another source of income on the side.
I have no congregation that I need to care for.
I have no organization to build.
My Twitter bio is kinda boring, not not really impressive to other pastors.
Speaking of Twitter, what I say there will not, generally, get me fired or cause huge controversy for my career.
It’s a different place to be. A new reality. A new normal.
It’s kinda strange.
All the sudden, I don’t have to read theology books.
I don’t have to be up on all the missional church blogs.
I don’t have to go to conferences.
In fact, I don’t have to read my bible.
I do not even have to go to church.
We can decide to stay home on Sundays.
And, clearly as evidenced here, I no longer have to write in complete paragraphs.
I wondered how this would all play out. I wondered if I’d have some kind of depression or if it would be hard of if I’d be itching to get back into “ministry” again. I wondered if I just loved the church cause it was my job to love the church. But I’ll be honest. I’ve never been healthier. I had a friend in visiting from Philly a few weeks ago and he said, “You know, when you were in Philly I always felt like there was something unsettled about you. I don’t see that anymore.” He’s right. I loved pastoring at The Well. I loved the community there. I loved being a pastor. But there was always something unsettled in my soul. I am not sure I can even totally place what it is yet, I probably need a lot more therapy/spiritual direction to figure that out.
My point is this, I still love the Church. My family needs the Church. I am as committed to the local expression as the church as I have ever been. I know a lot of pastors that have left their roles and carry tons of wounds and hatred for the church. I/we are not those people. Sure we carry wounds, but no hatred, no ill-will. We were definitely not part of a perfect community at The Well or any other church we’ve been part of. Though I will admit my sample size is small. Our new church Theophilus is only the 4th congregation I’ve even been part of since I was 3 years old. But, as a family we will continue to find our place in the body of Christ, being normal christians (hopefully without being “normal christians”). The bottom line is, we desperately long to be part of the give and take of a faith community that worships Jesus.
I love the church, in all its imperfections. The church is worth it. Worth loving. Worth hurting over. Not because of what we’ve gotten out of it, but rather, because its where God is working and where he calls us.
The local church is where I have found the beautiful mess of the in-breaking of the Kingdom of God. The “already not yet-ness” of the coming new creation.