Lately I am in a slump regarding the local church. I have been a pastor in a few different congregations and attended a number of churches in the US, UK and Europe. I have had peek experiences and cringe worthy ones. True, the call of the church is bigger than my experience and needs. True, the marks of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church permeate the momentary concerns of occasional music gaffs and sermon clunkers. True, what it means to be ‘church’ is a commitment to the body of Christ and a desire to give to the body more than you expect in return at times.
But here is the thing… I know the ecclesiological responses and the theology behind all this points me to being involved and active. But I am open to suggestions as well. Where should I turn if you were me? I want to be open hearted to whatever so hear it goes:
Professor/pastor seeking Church -Experienced professor/pastor seeks mid-sized church to become involved in and hopefully contribute to the life of. Church should…
- be willing to acknowledge that Theology is what we live… not merely what we read.
- see worship as creating a space where obedience to Truth is practiced through community. We want to meet God, not agendas.
- demonstrate examples of partnering with other area churches and not attempt to do all forms of outreach alone – partnering is the best way to build the Kingdom, not individual success in all areas.
- not be afraid to speak and think critically – it is safe to be intelligent and thoughtful in this community and nothing to be weary of people with degrees or are bookish.
- be humble enough to acknowledge and embrace diversity at all levels.
- have laity lead in worship regularly including preaching, sacramentality and making leadership decisions in partnership with staff.
- women and men serving at all levels of leadership.
- taking Micah 6:8 seriously in word and deed
- seeing the marks of ‘Shema’ and ‘Shalom’ as the twin pillars upon which ministry is framed.
- not to segment ministries by age… meaning no age specifics in the family of faith.
- evangelism is not a department… it is something everyone is called to.
- the Kingdom of God is always the focus, not our nation nor national interests except in prayerful hopes of redemption and healing. With that, no Hallmark holidays celebrated…
- Zechariah 2 is a model of the ‘church without walls’ and we question why a church would have locks on its doors. If we fear that someone from ‘outside’ might harm something we have ‘inside’, do we really need it?
- youth worship with adults, adults do missions with youth, children know who the elderly are and the elderly pray and minister to all members of the congregation.
- hold fast to the view that the church does worship and missions… that’s it. Kill every other program. Special interest groups and functions that don’t feed this can be found at Starbucks or Yoga class or a local community center.
- have no data projectors in worship services … period.
- acknowledge that the question of sexuality is not the issue as much as what and who God calls us to serve, to give voice to, to bind the wounds of, and to see the face of Jesus in and through.
- acknowledge that if music is dividing us, then we stop singing and start praying during worship until we find reconciliation.
- that the focus of every believing body is to witness and disciple, so adult members need to be doing whatever it takes to raise young people into the knowledge and practice of the faith. Stop all adult programs until this becomes central.
OK… what did I miss?
Let me know if you know of a place that might have an opening for someone seeking such a place…