Q & R: Is there a place for an ex-pastor like me?
Here's the Q:
Thank you for your continual insight into what it means to be a disciple Jesus. I've been a pastor for about 9 years and I found myself closely identifying with the main characters in "A New Kind of Christian." I'm sure like most people have experienced, there aren't too many churches that think outside the box of their modernist traditional Christianity, even contemporary mega-churches aren't necessarily different in doctrine from their more traditional counterparts.
While I've fully accepted where I am and what I believe. I don't think there is any place for me to work as a pastor anymore. Any thoughts as to what a an ex-pastor might do? Who's hiring someone that's only had experience working at McDonald's and churches? Thanks!
Here's the R:
Thanks for this question. As you can imagine, I receive this question quite often. I wish I had an easy answer to it.
To complicate matters a bit, there are growing numbers of leaders in Mainline Protestant Churches who "get" the theological, missional, and liturgical transformation that's needed. They want it. They want to make room for it. The problem is that institutional structures are often - no, always - hard to subvert. It's happening, but it's slow.
Meanwhile, there are growing numbers of leaders in Evangelical churches that get it as well. But their theological systems are even more resistant to change than institutional ones. (You might consider doctrinal systems as institutions of the mind.)
Yes, the situation is changing, slowly ... and there are more openings now than there were five years ago. (There isn't a great place for people to post and seek these positions though ... maybe a good project for emergent village.com to take on?)
My suggestion is this: if at all possible, try starting a new faith community. There are trans-denominational networks that are seeking to provide space for experimentation without imposing needless bureaucracy - as a great example, see:
(I give a video intro on the home page.)
You will very likely need to be bivocational when you begin, unless you have a network of people who would raise support for you. On this subject of finances, you should check out this really helpful book by Becky Garrison:
And one other suggestion - don't go it alone. Link up with folks (like in the networks above) for mutual support and encouragement, exchange of ideas, and personal development. Every crisis is an opportunity - and if the lack of positions for people ilke you is a crisis, starting innovative new faith communities is the opportunity. One of my goals over the next five years is to provide more resources for people starting new faith communities ... stay tuned!