Tuesday, November 01, 2005

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.

19 comments:

Agent B said...

you sound normal to me.

Thanks for being "exposed".

Before Girl said...

"#6: 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."

How about saying to her, "I don't know what to do in these situations and do not know what to say and I question the value of my accompaniment." It's truthful, a good conversation starter. You don't know her thoughts on the matter, nor even if she wonders, "Hey, where is gentry?"

g13 said...

that would be an excellent conversation starter. it would suggest that i am willing to walk with her, even if i don't know where the hell we're going.

btw - i do know that she's wondering where i am. i received a phone call from her this morning.

Anonymous said...

That was really good advice, Krista. I came to post something similar, but I don't need to. That really was perfect.
Jamie

Before Girl said...

Thanks. And gentry, it doesn't matter if you don't know where the hell you are going-two people not knowing where the hell they are going is better than one person not knowing. I hope it works out for you both.

Rick said...

not singing the girl parts.

Glad you are admitting you are part of the dark side you have truly been a part of since I met you.

Thanks for fessin up.

g13 said...

yep, i've finally conceded. now it's about time to start moving towards the margins.

b said...

jeff,

thanks for voicing this. it has given some momentum to some a few wheels that were already turning in my head.

thanks again,
brian

Landis said...

Good words. I'm glad we hooked up and consder my time with S&S my real "education."

Kellie said...

Is the comment from Jamie....Jamie from church? We need to work out a simplified code system that everyone can use so that we can get rid of the descriptive phrasing....Jamie from church, James from church, Jamie/James the girl from Chicago.

g13 said...

the latter. james the girl.

flowergirl said...

jeff, thanks for your honesty and giving me so much to think about in this post and others. i appreciate your blog and how you articulate your search.

-misty-

g13 said...

misty,

thanks for stopping by and for your kind words. i hope that your ongoing mission to serve Christ among the nations is going well.

flowergirl said...

i don't know if i would use the word well to describe it...it's not at all like i ever imagined it to be before getting here and one dead end after another in churches and relationships. but God's the one who'll change things here and stifle out the despair that floats around. it's nothing i can do. i just have to get that in my brain and hang on.

g13 said...

hang on indeed! it seems to me that perseverance is the only reliable evidence of our salvation.

are you blogging, by the way? if so, what is your address?

flowergirl said...

yep, i'm at www.amistyflower.blogspot.com stop by sometime.

-misty-

flowergirl said...

I left a comment but I think it got lost so i'm trying again...or leaving two very similar comments. Either way, my blog is:

www.amistyflower.blogspot.com

Stop by anytime. I try to keep up with it.

-misty-

flowergirl said...

CRAP! yes. in case you didn't get my blog address...find me at:

www.amistyflower.blogspot.com

i know, that wasn't the least bit funny.

g13 said...

well, if double your pleasure doubles the fun, then triple your pleasure must...

in all seriousness, don't worry about it. i'm glad to know where you're at.