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.
Protecting the Brand
When individual Christians have differences of opinion regarding doctrine, allowance should be made.
Rom 14:1 Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.
Rom 14:2 For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.
Rom 14:3 Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.
Rom 14:4 Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.
Rom 14:5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.
The formation of Christians into groups is a source of much trouble;
1Co 1:12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.
1Co 1:13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?
The practice of division in the body of Christ is called a work of the flesh;
Gal 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
Gal 5:20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
Gal 5:21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
(Note: The word translated “heresies” is hairesis and translated as “party” or “faction”)
Forged by periodic persecution for the first 300 years and then incorporated into the Roman Empire in the fourth century, what we understand as church today was formed. It is difficult for us today to even think about how a church could function that wasn’t run as a system or organization.
Adam Smith who wrote the economic treatise “The Wealth of Nations” was not a fan of Christianity because he saw it interfering with business. He was in favor of denominations because he felt that when they competed in the marketplace, they would have to eventually drop anything distinctive that conflicted with other denominations until they became pointless.
Most seminaries are associated with a denomination and produce seminary graduates steeped in the defense of their denominational distinctive doctrines. The requirements to adhere to the doctrines and practices can be more rigid that the requirements laid down on a fast food franchise holder.
In addition to denominational expectations are those of the local church whose equanimity would be greatly disturbed if a hit of doubt were expressed. It is surprising that in the face of such monumental pressure to remain static and unchanging liberal creep has been as effective as it has. The adoption of doctrines welcoming women preachers, abortion, homosexuality, and a seemingly unending list of escalating doctrines all hostile to Christianity is a testimony to the effectiveness of Satan’s strategies, the vulnerability of organizational systems to worldly currents, and a tradition of Christian practice where the Spirit has been quenched.
A major problem with a denominational approach to Christianity is that it forms an “us vs. them” perspective that defines Christian practice as either “right’ or “wrong”. In addition to the problems of polarization, one finds that the assumption of being “right” precludes any inclination to grow or mature because that would mean that there was more to learn. In a way a pastor defending a denomination will often have to prevent his church members from a path of growth or questioning.
The process of rounding up strays (like with Omega house in the movie Animal House) and putting them back in the pen might seem like the work of a shepherd, but it can lead to arrested development (sheep need to be fed not just contained).
Many, perhaps most pastors are fine with the constraints of their denominational system. However, for the pastor himself that has grown past some of the doctrines or has come to an awareness of the limitations of the system, it can be difficult to even mention his thoughts to anyone else for fear of being seen as “unreliable”. For this and other reasons, the pastorate can be one of the loneliest jobs there are.
Another problem for the pastor attempting to manage a denominational franchise is that all questions have to be channeled into the approved doctrine. This can require flexibility with regard to truth. For example, a Luthern pastor may find it difficult to claim that salvation is by grace alone, but also requires baptism. However, every denomination places its priests and pastors in a position where they frequently have to scramble to make things fit.
Making things fit is a type of self-deception as well as an attempt to pacify others. There can be no greater hazard for a Christian than to act with disregard for truth. Just as Jesus disassociated himself from those disinterested in truth;
Mat 21:25 The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him?
Mat 21:26 But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet.
Mat 21:27 And they answered Jesus, and said, We cannot tell. And he said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.
There is a consequence hanging over those with no regard for truth;
Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;