A web site for pastors who are hurting, pastors who are thinking of quitting, and pastors who have quit the ministry.
frus·tra·tion n: the result of expectations exceeding reality.
|The intention is to describe
aspects of ministry that are not often recognized or presented that can
provide a broader understanding of the dynamics of ministry to explain how
and why this can be one of the most challenging jobs there is.
I set this web site up to be able to share my perspectives and offer counsel to those who have suffered the "slings and arrows of outrageous" ministry (to borrow from Shakespeare).
I am taking a personal approach to this ministry because I see one of the many problems that besiege Christianity today is the impoverishment of relationships. For that reason I wish to be available to any who feel that correspondence could be helpful.
Church as a System
Many years ago in conversation with a friend who was a seminary graduate, he was becoming frustrated with my observational criticisms of the way church was done. He asked me what my alternative system would be. I found that I could not describe how I thought Christianity should be lived in “system” terms.
Most denominations operate as systems in one way or another because of the legacy of the Catholic church. The Catholic church was formed by the confluence of several factors. The idea of the Greek Academy, the reduction of Christianity to doctrinal bullet points, the influx of pagan religious practices in the fourth century, the elevation of ritual, and the establishment of clergy.
The idea that one gets to heaven by meeting or maintaining criteria has popular appeal especially if the criteria is not burdensome. This might be seen in the biblical injunction against women speaking in church. Some light is shed on this when it is further prescribed that they should ask their husbands at home if they have questions. While usually taken as a insult to women, it can perhaps be more accurately seen as a insult to men who through laziness, indifference, or feelings of inadequacy sought to dump their family responsibilities on the church.
While the mechanical aspects of church has Satanic origins and have benefited those that administer the system, the real power behind this configuration comes from those whose inclination towards comfort and lack of enthusiasm for truth give it an inertial momentum. It becomes a sort of Christianity on cruise control.
We visited a church once and noticed the typical children running loose while their parents (possibly starved for relational connection) visited with other adults. We sat next to an elderly lady and my wife struck up a conversation. I asked her how she was doing financially and she mentioned she was having some difficulties. We were able to help a little, but I was struck by the fact that she had been a church member for 30 years and even her best friend had no idea that she was struggling. I am sure the church leadership would have been almost angry that she had not let them know of her need.
Just like a computer has to follow the program that was written for it, church systems follow the course set for it with programs, classes, schedules, and events. I have seen men open their hearts one on one and even in groups as large as four or five. However, anything larger and people revert into the classroom mode and any chance for a relational heart connection is lost.
Christianity is supposed to be about relationships, ours with God and each other. As pastors begin to see the obstacle church systems can be to a depth to Christian living, they sometimes try to change the system to better accommodate relationships. While well intentioned, organizational systems cannot do relationships. It is better to try to work with mentoring, prayer partners, or otherwise encourage church members to minister to each other on their own.
One aspect of relationships is that they are messy. A church system can seem to be preferable as the quenching of relationships avoids much of the fallout from misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and wounded pride that often accompany relational encounters. This should be the real pastoral work, helping people apply Christianity to the difficulty of relationships.