A good friend of mine gave me a book this week and insisted that I read it. As I picked up her copy of Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith by Barbara Brown Taylor I wondered what exactly I would learn reading this book. Would her frustrations with the church simply bolster my own, thereby making it an exercise in self-gratification, or was there something in there really worth hearing?
About a quarter of the way through the book I realized I was learning something incredibly profound about myself and my calling; I don’t want to be a pastor.
For the sake of anyone from my church, where I serve as youth pastor, and anyone who has supported me in my ministry up to this point, it would probably be wise to clarify. What I mean is that I don’t want to be a pastor if I am forced to be a pastor in the current model of what it means to be a pastor. I still sense that God has called and gifted me to serve and teach in the church, and I still believe that this calling will shape the better portion of the rest of my life, but what I am beginning to realize is that in order for me to fully live out the purpose for which I have been created, something must change.
My first inclination is to qualify all of this by saying, “Well, I don’t want to be a SENIOR pastor – youth ministry’s something different.” But in reality it’s not. The current model of youth ministry is broken in all the same ways the current model of congregational ministry is broken (and why shouldn’t it be when we’ve fashioned youth ministry to be junior church).
What Taylor describes in her book made me realize that everything that is put upon the pastor of a church, and in MUCH smaller ways the pastor of a youth group or of a children’s ministry is beyond what any one person can ever begin to live out. It’s also not the way the Bible seems to describe it either. In Ephesians 4, Paul describes how all the parts of the body are gifted in certain ways to serve the body as a whole. He says some are gifted to teach (I think that I and many other pastors would say we have been gifted in this area), but if that’s the case then why are those people in today’s church asked to play every other role in that list as well? It’s what leads to burn out, it’s what leads to ineffective ministry, and it’s what led Taylor to leave the church.
So I’m going to change it. I don’t know what it will look like yet, but my goal is to restructure our youth ministry and take advantage of all the gifts that God has blessed us with in our congregation (look out administrators, teachers, mentors, encouragers, givers and more – I’m coming for you). Not to find more volunteers, but to find more ears that need to become ears, and more eyes that need to become eyes, and more pancreases to become pancreases all in service of the Body of Christ.
So that’s what I learned this week – I don’t want to be a pastor – at least not as it’s defined today.
What else did I learn this week?
- How to cut up a raw chicken.
- My Airsoft pistol is not powerful enough to scare off a rabbit, even when I hit it from as close as 10 feet away.
- When a rabbit is shot with an Airsoft pistol from less than 10 feet it hops straight in the air about 2 feet.
- Denver and Trav look good in matching shirts.