I hate that I am writing this today. I hate that I feel that I need to.
Here’s the story – I have received a few private messages from friends and colleagues in ministry who have kindly stopped by to read a blog post or two. Their takeaway from some of my posts is that I am unhappy, that I am frustrated with our local church, that I am posting passive aggressive messages to my own congregation. They kindly feel bad for me but wonder if posting some of the things I post is really the way to build the kingdom of God (or a similar phrase that calls me to think of the “higher good.”)
So I’m posting this to be as clear as I can be.
I am posting my Pastoral Ministry Tuesday posts because 35 years of pastoral ministry have filled my heart and head up with experiences that I feel like I need to share. First, because I want to leave a written picture for my kids to be able to look back at and say to their therapists, “see, this is my old man and some of this explains some of him and therefore some of me.” Second, I hope to be a help to people just getting started in pastoral ministry or somewhere far enough along in that journey that they are starting to ask some questions now and they may be able to benefit from my mistakes and observations. Third, I can’t not write. I’ve tried.
I’m not trying to hurt anyone or get back at anyone or complain about anyone. I’m telling stories, sharing reflections, mining my own memories for helpful thoughts and perspectives on life in pastoral ministry.
And I’m really happy with our local church. Are we perfect? I’ll say we’re perfectly imperfect. I love who we are and even more, I love the glimpses of who we are becoming. I’m the weird kind of pastor who doesn’t turn to colleagues in ministry for my closest friendships. My closest friends are in our local church as they were in the local church we were a part of before this. I think that’s how Jesus modeled it. When I have issues here with friends, we bring them up and talk about them, because we’re trying to grow up.
Do we always get it right here? Nope.
Do I always get it right here? Hard nope.
But I’m not going to vent on here about issues in our local church unless those issues are already being discussed or have already been discussed here and they are universal issues that we all face or might face.
Sometimes I refer to the movement of churches of which I am currently a part. I am frustrated with my movement. I have been for almost 7 years now and I’ve communicated my frustrations, in detail, to everyone in the food chain above me to the very end of that line. I’m not saying anything here that I haven’t already communicated to my benevolent overlords.
A few comments from friends or colleagues in ministry indicate that I’m coming across in some of my posts as being very cynical about the Church. In my experience, that is possible. In my experience, it’s also what people tell me when I’m just being honest about what I see when I point out the Emperor has no clothes on. I do try to run things by my wife and/or other close friends, coach or spiritual director if I think what I’m writing on is pushing the cynicism line because I know I can go there. But just as often, it becomes an ad hominem argument with people who don’t want to engage with what I’m writing about…ie. if I’m “cynical,” they don’t have to think about what I’ve written.
I like it when people read what I write. I like it even more when they respond to it, positively or negatively. But I’m writing what I write because I find I can’t not write about it. At least in this season. But I’m feeling very strongly today that I need to step up for my local church and be as clear as possible that I consider myself blessed to be part of our local church and to be in relationship with some of the dearest and best people I have ever known. My life is rich and thriving because of the people with whom I share life together.
I love our local church. I love the beloved community.