Thursday, January 19, 2006

Reflections on teaching

Reflections from teaching the after-pastor course.
(Note: I taught an after-pastor intensive, 2 day, course for after-pastor ministry to clergy. For further details, request a copy of the report by going to the comments link below.)
Teaching the intensive course was interactive. That says a great deal about my preferred style as well as my learning mode. The result is that I learn as much, if not more, than the students.
What I gleaned from the course is that lay people in local churches need to be engaged in understanding the dynamics of after-pastor churches in the same way clergy need to know what to expect. This is most necessary when the misconduct was recent, but churches can benefit from a course such as this if the misconduct was many years ago, or not fully known. The key is finding the will to want to be healed (such as in the case of the crippled man by the pool in John 5). If the local church knows that they are chewing up pastor after pastor and the turn around of clergy is frequent, then they must realize at some point, the church is unhealthy. It is only when the leadership of the church wants to get better, heal and find wholeness that any significant change can occur.
Another insight I received was that some clergy have served a succession of wounded churches. When denominational leaders review their “track record” it appears they are ineffective. This may not be the case! These are frustrating churches to serve and are usually not very fruitful in their ministry. Too many really good pastors are gone from the ministry, and in some cases from the church. This is tragic. A competent pastor serving a wounded church may not do very well attempting to build up the membership roles. Who wants to remain in an unhealthy church?
Often I feel like a voice, crying in the wilderness and I wonder if any one hears what I am saying. Wounded churches are involved in a self-defeating downward spiral; damaging the Gospel they represent and destroying capable, caring pastors who are offering themselves for the sake of this same Gospel. Healing needs to come to these churches and people before the kingdom can be advanced.

Reflections on teaching

Reflections from teaching the after-pastor course.
(Note: I taught an after-pastor intensive, 2 day, course for after-pastor ministry to clergy. For further details, request a copy of the report by going to the comments link below.)
Teaching the intensive course was interactive. That says a great deal about my preferred style as well as my learning mode. The result is that I learn as much, if not more, than the students.
What I gleaned from the course is that lay people in local churches need to be engaged in understanding the dynamics of after-pastor churches in the same way clergy need to know what to expect. This is most necessary when the misconduct was recent, but churches can benefit from a course such as this if the misconduct was many years ago, or not fully known. The key is finding the will to want to be healed (such as in the case of the crippled man by the pool in John 5). If the local church knows that they are chewing up pastor after pastor and the turn around of clergy is frequent, then they must realize at some point, the church is unhealthy. It is only when the leadership of the church wants to get better, heal and find wholeness that any significant change can occur.
Another insight I received was that some clergy have served a succession of wounded churches. When denominational leaders review their “track record” it appears they are ineffective. This may not be the case! These are frustrating churches to serve and are usually not very fruitful in their ministry. Too many really good pastors are gone from the ministry, and in some cases from the church. This is tragic. A competent pastor serving a wounded church may not do very well attempting to build up the membership roles. Who wants to remain in an unhealthy church?
Often I feel like a voice, crying in the wilderness and I wonder if any one hears what I am saying. Wounded churches are involved in a self-defeating downward spiral; damaging the Gospel they represent and destroying capable, caring pastors who are offering themselves for the sake of this same Gospel. Healing needs to come to these churches and people before the kingdom can be advanced.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Throwing sheeps to the wolves

THROWING SHEEP TO THE WOLVES
Pastors appointed or called to wounded churches are often chewed up, spit out and blamed for not “fixing” their church or solving their problems. As I addressed below, the unintentional after-pastor serving a church, unhealthy because of prior clergy misconduct, is a recipe for disaster. Unless the Church (in its broadest definition) trains, equips and prepares pastors for this work, the shortage of incoming clergy will continue.
I can call to mind about a dozen former pastors who have left parish ministry and, in some cases, left the church altogether. These very talented, caring folks have been damaged beyond repair and the church has not seen the carnage it has done. Granted that some clergy have severely wounded the churches they were called to serve, but at some point healing needs to happen.
The after-pastor intensive course I taught this week is but a beginning to understanding the dynamics of wounded churches, and preparing clergy to fill these roles. The goal of the after-pastor is “To work toward restoring the integrity of the pastoral office.” This is intentionally stated to remove the burden of thinking we need to accomplish this during our term in the office of pastor.
Support for the after-pastor is essential if the person filling this role is to survive (and even thrive). Clergy self-care is also an important component. I asked the class to share what activities and interests bring them delight. I was looking to see if these folks had fulfilling ventures outside of the church. They all did. This is really good and helps maintain a sense of self and links to other “communities” outside the church.
In the post below the line should read “Oh, by the way.” Speling is not my native language, nor is typing!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Unintentional After-Pastor

Unintentional After-Pastors
Conversations with some colleagues this week has illustrated the high incidence of unintentional after-pastors. These are folks serving churches where clergy misconduct happened before they arrived. At best they were told “Oh, my the way…” just before assuming the position of pastor. Some were not even informed at all. To walk into such a hostile environment unprepared, can be deadly!
One individual realized recently that they had served a succession of wounded churches and was not aware of this until taking a closer look at each church. This person is on the verge of getting out of ministry all together, and the Church would be poorer if that happened. I know of some very creative, loving dynamic, caring people now gone from pastoral ministry because they ended up in an after-pastor church which chewed them up, spit them out then blamed them for not “fixing” the church.
When will denominational leaders get a clue? They cannot continue to send unprepared clergy into these rats nests. Just the expense of training new clergy to fill the demand is massive, not to mention to human toll and spiritual damage done in churches where the trust was violated, make this a major concern.
My life calling is now; to eliminate the unintentional after-pastor!
I propose to do this by offering training, education, support and guidance for intentional after-pastors. These will be folks willing to subject themselves to this unique healing ministry.
I also will continue to advocate for complete disclosure of church situations before any appointment or call is offered. Denominational leaders will be well served and so will the wounded churches, if well prepared, supported and informed clergy serve these after-pastor churches.
Mainline denominational churches are concerned about the membership losses and are attempting to apply programs aimed at church growth to reverse this trend. Unless the churches wounded by clergy misconduct find healing and wholeness, the downward spiral will continue.
Any one willing to work on this effort with me, is welcome. Please respond using the “comments” link below.
For more information you may check out my web site at:
Web site
http://afterpastor.org/