I have spent the better part of a decade chasing my call to ministry. First with the Presbyterian Church (USA) where I was “under care” for three years. I wrestled to articulate my call within the particular understanding of what it means to be a minister. I did not fair well and could not clothe myself with the offered roles of Minister of Word and Sacrament. I departed to pursue social work.
When the social work did not pan out I found myself in minister as a part of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). I discovered a loose collective of rebel rousing yahoos. They liked me and offered me a place at the table. I jumped through hoops, forged new ministries, and fought to offer another way to be “minister” to the world.
These efforts got me ordained after two years of service to a Disciples congregation and service to the church catholic. I had arrived; Jan 23, 2011 I got my stole. It was an amazing time. It marked a long journey for me. It was beautiful to have family, friends (old and new), mentors, admirers, and my partner there to witness the public proclamation of my call to serve the church as a Minister of Christian Witness.
I was very hopeful and encouraged by this event and by the world of possibilities that seemed to beacon me to dare to dream. The church was ready to embrace me and my crazy vision of what church is. The crazy vision of what church could be.
Then some stuff happened. I needed to find another church to serve. I put my profile “out there” to see if anyone would bite. I have been in the Call & Search process for over a year. I have not received any viable offers to use my gifts to serve the church. Having searched high and low my wife and I made a decision we moved. She received a call to serve a church in OKC.
I am an unemployed, rebel rousing, pastor of disaster, social justice warrior, advocate for equality, and lover of most. I have reframed and redefined my call to serve the church. I am certain that I am not done being the heart and hands of God. God has something in store for me.
I am certain that I am done with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). I have pondered the dissolution of my relationship with the denomination that ordained me. I have called upon the counsel of the amazing colleagues I have gained from this denomination. I have prayed over it and discerned the voice of God. I think the silence of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) speaks the greatest volume in my choice.
Is there geography for me to serve in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)? It does not look that way. The last time I checked there is not one position listed on the national Search & Call system. We are fighting to be eligible to be listed in an ineffective system. A system that is at best a dog and pony show.
This past summer I was part of the “Missional” Learning Track at General Assembly in Nashville. We had a great time and had some wonderful conversations. I had some great connections made. I had a couple of interviews. I heard, “I love your ideas but I have no money.” When will you get it?
Unless you let go of leadership and equip and bless the ministries of younger leaders you will have no legacy to protect. Our fear and obsession with maintaining the traditions and ideas of yesterday have sanitized the gospel we wield and act as a disinfectant to any creativity that might engage new light.
The bottom line is we are not dying, we are dead. There are exceptions to this in a few areas. Those exceptions either have a wealth of financial resources or a wealth of engaging leadership that equips and invests in developing new leaders.
I can no longer hope that the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) will get their act together. I am done investing in dead systems. I am captured by Luke 9:60, “Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” There are countless ministers that are willing and hoping to bury the dead and dying. It is not my call. I am called to proclaim the Kingdom of God.
I bid the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) farewell. I do not leave with anger. I depart with sorrow and longing in my heart. Thank you for the affirmation and the introduction to many wonderful people. I had hoped it would have turned out differently. I pray that God bless you and keep you and that the Holy Spirit inspire you to not fear death but get excited about the resurrection waiting for you.