Thanks Anonymous & Brian for your previous posts. Thought I would post a response here on the main page. First of all, it’s probably most proper to let you know that I wrote that post kind of on the fly trying to get something on here before the weekend. I did not think too much about the implications of what I wrote and failed to realize that without knowing some background in some areas my comments come across differently than I intended.
As far as being open and honest with a congregation, it’s a tough matter. Seminary often leads pastors down theological and ideological roads that are challenging and advanced from what the ordinary person sitting in the pews would ever be able to follow. That is one of the major challenges of the ministry – taking what you’ve learned, often in a academic setting, and making it tenable and tangible for ordinary Christians. Being “open and honest” in that light could do much more harm than good.
An example of this is some of the stuff I write on this blog. Seldom does it enter discussion with folks at my church, especially in a full blown format. Does this make me dishonest? I don’t think so. I am a different place in my thinking and in my faith than the others I minister with at AC, and as one of my professors in college used to say, “I’m not wrong about any of the views I hold right now, at least not that I know.” I think that’s a good way to look at it. He wasn’t saying that regarding the arrogance of being right, but he was saying that we all hold views we think are right and godly and want others to see things that way. We may well be wrong, but we don’t hold to things knowing that to be true.
I know it sounds dishonest and mischievious to say you can’t be “open and honest” with a church, but what I’m talking about isn’t as bad as it sounds. Perhaps the best comparison is to look at it as a therapist’s relationship to a patient (though I in no means compare ministry to therapy, but the situations can be similar). A therapist is taught to distance him/herself from the patient and not to get caught up in the situation – differentiation is the key word.
Obviously ministry is not the same, but a similiar idea prevails. You must always use discretion in ministering to others. How much of myself can I open up and not comprimise my position? Please here as selfless not selfish. It’s not about making sure “nobody gets in,” instead I mean it from the position of being effective.
I noticed in the previous post I quickly changed from speaking of my current ministry setting to ministry in general without making that clear. The reflections on the different life situations and ministers is from my experience working in different churches, readings, and from conversations with different ministers.
I see I was hardest on pastors. That stems from a conversation I had with one of my minister friends about a former minister he worked with. This minister was paid very well (more than twice as much as I make) and given the church parsonage to live. He remodeled several of the rooms in the parsonage and turned in the bill to the church – with no preapproval mind you! He was also guilty of plagarizing sermons from the Internet and offering no credit for those references. Are most ministers this way, no! But I am afraid that more are than we would ever wish to admit. I mean, isn’t one like that too many?
I appreciate your comment regarding the Apostle Paul. Yeah, I know there is plenty for me to learn from him. He was content in every circumstance. He strove to take all his thoughts captive to Christ. He knew it was OK to take money for his ministry, but instead ministered bi-vocationally. I mean, yeah, there are plenty of things to lean from him just in these few points.
Please understand that the thoughts I post here are in process. I welcome the input of others to help hash these out in my own mind. That’s the thing I enjoy about this blog. I get people’s input from random places, and also get to hear from good friends that I don’t get to see often. Please, come, share, post, criticize, argue, whatever . . . please just don’t doubt my intention. It is not to turn us all into Metzites – although that does have a cool ring. Instead I try to post on things that the people who regularly read this blog don’t often hear about. Get them thinking about something new.
Thanks for the dialogue and I press on in the ministry. I truly do have a blessed church and a blessed ministry. As Paul says, “I thank my God every day for you.”