Sunday, November 27, 2005

Yes Reverend, there are healthy churches out there

When in the thick of dysfunctional chruch systems, it is hard to see beyond the hurting world of a wounded church. It saps ALL your energy and is at risk to injure your soul.

The hardest thing I ever did was to resign from an unhealthy church. It tore me up, ruined my health and put most of my relationships in turmoil. Once that decision was finalized, I felt a huge burden lifted from me. I do not know what the furture of that church will be, but I know that I am doing much better. I had spoken to many other clergy who served that same church and without exception, they all had similiar experiences, and left! I stayed longer than any of them; I guess I was not smart enough to leave after 2 years like the rest of them.

I am now a confirmed "pew sitter" in another church in my retirement years. It is a healthy church. I see the difference, and it is wonderful. People are friendly, happy and best of all; there is no conflict. I did have the privledge of serving one healthy church, so I know what they are like. They are such a joy to serve and just be a part of their ministry.

I am not sure what the percentage of healthy to unhealthy churches is, but I hear way too many cases of problematic situations. Are we not call to be followers of the example of Jesus? He only turned over the tables in the Temple once in His 3 year ministry. Most of the time He displayed compassion, healing, love and grace.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Recovery in retirement

The retirment party is now a fading memory. Five months into this new life and it is grand!

I spend the last 31 years serving in pastoral ministry. It was the most demanding, low paying job I ever did. I loved it! Interacting with a vital community and encountering various dimensions of the human condition left no room for boredom. I met some wonderful people, who had survived some terrible experiences, yet found a faith and a hope to carry them through.

This is not to say that all was warm and cozy. I ran into some who thought the church ought to be run THEIR WAY, rather than according to the rules set in place by the denomination, and local policies.

The most damaging dynamics I faced came when there was clergy violations of trust. I followed in pastorates where previous pastors were accused of sexual misconduct in all my appointments! This did not include all churches (often I served 2 churches at a time). Needless to say; this created unhealthy situations, lack of trust being at the root of most difficulties. I did the best I could to restore the basic trust in each location, but was not always successful. Some churches were too damaged to recover. I am very sad about that, but there is a shared responsibility needed for any church to heal.

I plan to give the rest of my time and energy to offering guidance and support to any clergy serving in a wounded church that has experienced misconduct in its leadership.

I have a web site just for this purpose. It can be seen at : http://afterpastor.org/
I hope anyone who is in this position will visit this site and feel free to share struggles and insights with others who are in this unique ministry. You may add thoughts to this blog or through my e-mail link on the site.

I am now healing and gaining strength after all those years of difficult church dynamics. I am rediscovering my Sacred worth, am able to freely express my thoughts and opinions and delight in life. I was fortunate to be able to retire with a successful ministry, following a situation that was so bad, I had to resign. I am so greatful I did not leave then, as I was tempted to do.

Please share your thoughts.