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examining the model

Reclaiming the Mission :: The Weblog of David Fitch

Blogger Len Hjalmarson said…

“Proving to be examples to the flock..” This is the killer for me. I’ve known many busy pastors, and while they are often examples of a moral life they are not examples of a well-lived and missional life. They have no time for family, and little time for friendship. I’ve known too many pastors who really have no friends at all. This if nothing else, should cue us to the reality that such churches are not biblical communities and therefore are not places of gospel wholeness. In such cases they function ok as business but are not really “ekklesial.”

David’s whole post is excellent but I really liked what Len said in particular - I have seen this in every single church I have ever been involved with and I have seen it happen to my husband and myself as well. (granted, I have never been actively involved in a mainline/liturgical church)

I know that being bivocational isn’t a popular solution but full time vocational ministry has yet to solve any of these problems, perhaps the definition of insanity applies here. If nothing else, if a pastor is full time vocationally (and I know many wonderful people who are friends of mine who are), he/she needs to have a support structure and encouragement to live life well, not just be a good, moral, christian pastor. If a pastor cannot model a kingdom gospel of wholeness, how are the members of the congregation supposed to “get it”?..esp. if a top down model currently exists.

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  1. Erika Haub — June 29, 2008 #

    We were just talking about this this afternoon, and I REALLY appreciate Len’s comments. Thanks for sharing them here!

  2. traveller — June 29, 2008 #

    It seems to me the way to resolve this dilemma is to return to the idea, which I think is Biblical, that pastor is a gift of the Spirit not a role in an organization or institution. So long as pastor, elder, etc. is consider a role or position instead of a member of the ekklesia just as other members who have different giftings it will be impossible to get away from pastors being less than what Father intended for them.

  3. Carlos — June 30, 2008 #

    Pastors cannot have friends within their church; the church really is a political organization cloaked with religiosity; saddly, true vulnerable relatonships happen only outside the church (mostly in bars);

    Since being resigned from our community group leadership/membership at the Journey, my wife and I find solace with good friends in our C.S. Lewis book club who are an eclectic bunch from different churches, and it is one of the most vulnerable/open group I’ve experienced in my Spiritual journey ever; essentially, that group is church for us.

    But to get our “Church Fix” we do go to Windsor Crossing (an attractional church?) when we can make it. Greg, the Sr. Pastor is good and the music flawless and relevant/inspirational, but I doubt we’ll ever develop true relationships/community there as it will be difficult.

    I don’t know what the answer is, but I know I need to cultivate the few good relationships/friendship we’re in.

  4. Heather — June 30, 2008 #

    What a compelling filter; I think it begs a definition of true friendship, and give our experience with a certain acquaintance who wormed her way out of the woodwork recently and feigned “friendship,” this is a particularly hot topic for me. Clark and I had a conversation on the way to my chemo appointment today about the arrogance of many fundamentalists to “befriend” people with nary a pure motive outside of the “mission” to witness. This assumes that God is not doing God’s unique work in every individual (does this mean I’m more universalist than Calvinist?) and that somehow I know what God’s unique work is for someone else, which creates an incredibly unhealthy, troubling culture for narcissists to thrive and flourish.

    I think the comment Carols said about bars ought to be considered, from the standpoint that, in a bar, at least most people acknowledge the pretense and everyone knows what they’re there for.

    I finally found community in many different venues when I found people willing to engage their faith without using their interpretation of Jesus and the gospel and the whole rhetoric as a “tool” to attempt to draw in the lost souls who initially feel accepted and then are expected to change and become just like them (refer to an early 80’s song by Denver native Steve Taylor: “I Want to be a Clone.”)

    Anyway, Mak, the fact that we’re friends first and “sisters” (how odd–I’ve never referred to you that way before) second (or third or tenth) is of infinite comfort to me, given our very parallel histories and the comfort and nourishment we both get from genuine discourse and dialogue.

    Also, I want to live my life more like you and David–very unencumbered (from the view of an outsider, of course), not run by rushing schedules, and so laid back. When I’m with you, I’m home. I do love you.

    good lord, I’m so verbose!

  5. Mak — June 30, 2008 #

    LOVE YOU TOO!!! not verbose at all, a very beautiful and thoughtful comment. Although, little do you know that I’ve been trying to save you from your heresy all this time. ;)

    Universalist? My guess is that yes, you probably are a universalist. Let me direct you to this post … fodder for conversation when you get back from camping.

    Unencumbered - that’s a lofty compliment that I hope to be able to live up to some day. We work toward that for sure although I think we will always be, as with most things, a work in progress.

    As for the topic at hand. I’m just so disturbed by the (albeit truthful) comment that pastors cannot have friends in church and that for most, church is a place to get some good worship, good preaching and that’s it but the real friends are in the bars. Part of me says YAY!!! then let’s get out to the bars but the pastor part of me is sad that it has to be that way.

    I was talking to David about this the other day - I just get so damn angry at all the pain that has occurred within much of the churches in this country but I’m more angry at the people who shrug their shoulders in resignation. that’s why I like people who talk about doing SOMETHING even if it’s not necessarily THE answer.

  6. Heather — June 30, 2008 #

    Point taken–I think you and David are onto something with Revolution this way–redoing church from the structural level. Eve just texted me tonight that she was making peach crisp from peaches she’d canned, Rob was working late, could I stop by? I had, literally, 20 extra minutes (talk about rushing) but I wanted to be with her, so we hung out and I filled her in on the now not-so-current “situation” on my blog. We spoke passionately about it, I told her how proud I was of her for taking a sabbatical from church, since that kind of a choice, for those of us born again and bred in fear, that’s a courageous choice, and we ate. I felt sort of like that was church.

    I once baptized my college roommate in Boyd Lake with just our children as witnesses. I’m not ordained, don’t have any “authority” to do so, but perhaps such actions qualify as “missional.” I will read the universalist post to see how I fit in.

    As we discuss often, solutions, like the problems themselves, are not always simple. I think, though, this is a subject that I’m proud that people like you and many of the women who I met the other night are wrestling to engage with authentically and passionately. I believe, in both individual and combined voices, you are the voices of the prophets, speaking a hard truth into a very difficult place that often cries out “Heresy!” Hopefully God will not call you all, like Hosea, to marry a whore to make God’s point.

    I don’t know of any real solutions, but I am excited about my healing service/hymn sing (see my blog tonight for a silly prediction of what I think it will be.)

  7. Mak — July 1, 2008 #

    I’m excited for your service too - I often wish I had solutions but I listened to an encouraging podcast last night which was an interview with Peter Rollins (one of my fav. Christian philosophers) on the nick and josh podcast (which can be found online or by searching itunes) where he talked briefly about the notion that getting knocked off (and on) your ass and struck blind is revelation - - not when you have all the answers. I thought that was beautiful and so true in my experience. I think we need to find joy in THOSE moments more…just like you did with Eve and at that baptism.

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