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!

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