confessions of an emerging pastor
after spending four days spilling the church's sins, revealing her weaknesses and begging the world for forgiveness, i think it is time for me to offer a few ecclesiastical confessions.
1. about three years ago, after a valiant struggle against categorization and cunning attempts to label myself as an eh-vangelical instead of an ee-vangelical, i finally confessed that i wade in the evangelical stream. now after a couple of years of dancing on the margins and regularly deflecting criticism that has been launched at the emerging church by raising my hands in a sign of resignation and saying something like, "i'm not an apologist for emergent, just an interested party," i'm ready to come clean. i am a willing and ongoing participant in the emerging church conversation. i am proud to walk forward with this crew as together we submit to and pursue the mission of God.
2. i also confess that i often do not what "emergent" stands for and means. from my perspective, "emergent" is more of a missional community than a clearly defined institution or organization. that makes definitions a bit difficult.
3. although i have a deep love for the church, in all its various and sundry forms, i have occasionally scrutinized and judged other forms/methods/modes and denominations/organizations with a hermeneutic of suspicion instead of one of charity. for my lack of charity and the divisions it undoubtedly caused, i ask forgiveness.
4. for many years i mentally characterized committed pentecostal and charismatic christians as anti-intellectual enthusiasts. now i realize that individuals from these very traditions are expanding my perception in significant ways and are challenging me to replace many of my ministerial fears with a thoroughgoing missional faith. i thank God for these brothers and sisters and beg their forgiveness for the way i slandered them in the past.
5. i do not know how to pursue the missional opportunities God has given our community without embracing an entrepreneurial spirit. so instead of risking failure, i do nothing. i confess my fear of failure and will need a number of you to help me if i am to move forward.
6. i wax eloquent about social justice and commit a bit of my time to the poor. but when someone is truly disordered, in a psychological/physical/spiritual way, i often ignore them instead of accompanying them through their desert. in fact, i have a friend who is languishing on a "ward" right now and am almost afraid to visit her. i don't know what to do in these situations and do not know what to say. moreover, with this friend in particular, i question the value of my accompaniment.
7. i realize that when i'm teaching, preaching or praying i occasionally sound certain about what i believe and where i think the church should go. these slivers of certainty are completely unintended and often extremely untrustworthy. beware.
8. i don't do the mission/vision/values thing well. maybe one of the reasons i'm outside of the institutional church is because i am not a very organized person. i don't know if that's true, but it's definitely something to consider.
9. i am as uncomfortable with God's sovereignty as you are. i have openly questioned his ordering of sexual relationships on a number of occasions and, in periods of great suffering, such as those we have witnessed in South Asia, Iraq and Mississippi/Louisiana, i am quick to question both his presence and the extent of his control. i also have great, overwhelming questions about the last word and the word after that (the concept, not the aptly titled book) and the final consummation of the Kingdom.
10. i love Christ and am committed to His church. it is an honor to walk with you. i will walk, teach, sing (yes, even the girls' parts), accompany, lead, listen, serve and sacrifice beside you for as long as you will have me.
11. i confess that i have often had a false humility concerning my teaching and preaching gifts. i think that this tendency has occasionally had a negative impact upon the church and, more importantly, has dishonored our Creator by blighting the beauty of his creation.
may the peace of Christ be with you.
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