standing firm: young ministers speak out about serving in traditional ministries, vol. 2
this post is by the honorable mayor of destiny u.s.a., mr. aaron monts. when aaron isn't pastoring at a medium size midwestern church he's spending time with his wonderful wife tracy, stirring up controversy and conversation on his excellent site or extracting excessive fees for AKC dog owners who want his dog to serve as stud. i hope that the rest of you are enjoying this series, and the series over at josh brown's blog as much as i am. if you would like to contribute a post to this series, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
gentry, ever the man of a million good ideas asked to hear from those who have chosen [for the time being] to stay in the traditional church instead of "running away*" and participating in non-traditional ministry structures... so, without any further ado, here is a glimpse into my mind--and some of the craziness that lies within.
you could say that i'm a glutton for punishment, that i tend to find myself more often than not in some of the worst of ministry situations. it feels as if i'm continually battered and beaten that my spirit, my heart and my passion are "constantly**" abused and destroy my spirit. a dear friend and mentor made the hard observation/comparison that my relationship to the traditional/institutional church is like the woman in an abusive relationship that keeps going back determined that he is going to change... i'd say that nearly nails it on the head.
i find myself in some of the worst situations not because i actively seek them out, but because i long to see change in the church. i desperately want the traditional church structure to be the fully-realized, incarnational hope of the world, the beautiful bride of Christ that it was intended to be. there is a deep desire within (a fire in the bones--if you will), an everlasting sense of optimism (that never seems to die--and if it gets close it always seems to get restored/resurrected) to see the traditional church be what it was meant to be... i long to see it rise up (and help it rise up) from the ashes and usher in the Kingdom like it is supposed to! you can call my desire to play a role in this, my desire to come in and "save the day" a messiah complex, you can even call it an exercise of my ego, but i want to play a part in the traditional church's restoration, in helping restore its glory that is found in Christ.
however, even though this may seem somewhat a noble and honorable reason, i would be remiss and ultimately dishonest if i were not to mention the selfish side of me that keeps me in the traditional church (thus far). i struggle with and continue to have a deep fear of the unknown that resides deep within my being. i lack the faith to step out of the comfortable confines of the traditional church, to seek out the beautiful expressions of doing church that so many are creating and living in non-traditional ways. i stand at a distance and admire many of my friends and former colleagues that have had the chutzpah to step out and follow Christ in complete faith wherever he may lead them, and to do whatever he may call them to do. however for myself, i have not been able to make such a leap. maybe it's God holding me back--or maybe that's just an excuse, but whatever the case it's my hope that God will use me in whatever situation i find myself and that in the end God will find me faithful to the calling he has laid on my life--whatever that may be!
* i use this for lack of better terminology and from a lack of understanding of what some of my fellow brothers and sisters have been through in the traditional church structure... i don't mean for this to offend, nor do i mean it to be understood that i'm 'passing judgment.'
** i'm using this term in a relative sense