A dear friend who is also a fellow pastor and I had a good conversation last night. Just after that, I received some good comments from a friend about my plans for a new church. Both events have left me with questions.
When you go through the ordination track in the Disciples as with any other denomination, you expect to be placed somewhere. For whatever reason, that never totally happened in my case and I don't know why. I can't easily blame race or sexual orientation, so I am left in this muddle.
I've felt called to parish ministry, but there are few congregations here in Minnesota, where I've chosen to live, and they are all in a state of flux as three congregations have had pastors leave. But just because they have open pulpits doesn't mean I can just slide in- all of the congregations are trying to figure this out on their own and not expecting a pastor to make everything right. I appreciate that but it makes me wonder where I fit in.
For some people when parish ministry isn't available or when they grow tired of it, pastors go into chaplaincy. I think it is a good option and a good way to do ministry beyond the doors of the church. But I also know it's not for everyone. I don't think I have the skills needed or the desire to do chaplaincy. I'm not panning those who do, it's just not my cup of tea.
So where does that leave me? What can I do?
That's a question that has been looming in the background for the past few months. I feel at times that several doors have closed on me and I am wondering if there is an open door somewhere for me.
Or maybe God is playing a mean trick on me; toying with my emotions.
I think it's hard for those who don't feel the call the ministry to understand how big a pull this is on you. You get to a point where cannot not do it. And you get frustrated and extremely depressed that nothing will ever change and that this call might have been less from God than that White Castle hambuger you had the night before.
I still feel called to do new church, but as some has said, why does there need to be a new church? I don't have an answer for that, except, why the hell not? When I read the stories of how churches started in the past, there seemed to be more emphasis on faith than on trying to market something to please other churches and denominational execs.
I don't want to paint too bleak a picture though. I am doing a whole bunch of supply preaching a local Disciple churches and I think that is helping me establish some realtionships with the people in those churches. But at some point, I want to put down roots.
My friend wondering if all of this waiting might be that God is preparing me for the new thing that is happening among the local churches. Could be; I just would like God to clue me in sometimes.