A pastor’s heart …

A very moving email from a pastor … after the jump

I hope you’ll appreciate the wisdom – and the pain – in this pastor’s words (as usual, details omitted for anonymity):

I have written to you before with regards to the renewal of my faith. I am a pastor and like I said before, without you and your writings which are rather intriguing and challenging to my conventional faith, I would have thrown everything by the wayside. I was that close about seven years ago.
… I was [recenly] fired from my position as pastor of the church I started [some] years ago. One of the many targets they had concerns with (in situations like this, pastors can never pin it down to one thing, but individuals express concerns about several general areas so that you never know what to deal with) was my teaching…
While this experience of losing my job has been rather traumatic for [my family and me], I am more than convinced that the more fundamental approach to scripture separates, divides and silences individual thought rather than encouraging dialogue. Not once in this whole affair did they ask specific questions about my beliefs or other issues of concerns. While I have been traumatized and need some time to recouporate, my inner soul is at peace.
I have grave concerns for the 21st century church and the role of pastors and leaders. For it seems that unless you “toll the party line” and conventional thinking, your job is on the line. Unless you get the heads nodding of those who claim to be ‘firm in the faith’ in affirmation, you could be out the door. It seems to me that the church no longer desires to dialogue but rather shuts down conversation that could very well enhance the church. Pastors are often times left in this quandary feeding the minds of those who need to have their minds tickled with how right they are and how wrong others are due to people’s insecurity, self-righteousness and close-mindedness.
…At present, I don’t know if I will ever reenter the ministry. The verbal abuse and the bullying that I endured over the past nine months has injured my soul and has caused me to question my ‘faith and belief in the church’ as being the hope of the world. Truly this is not the church that Jesus desires. Yet, while I remain uncertain about my future, all this abuse has brought me to a greater understanding of the abuse that was heaped upon Jesus. For he blazed the trail through convention religion and opened up a way to truth and life. I have asked myself, who is blessed more? I am thankful for the past 9 months of torment, for in some ways, while I am recovering, my faith is more alive and more free than I ever have been.
Thank you for your ministry. Without it, I would have been lost … but … I have found more of my true self, and I believe more of the true Christ and his “secret message.”

Thanks for sharing these words, brother. Your comments about the “fundamental approach to Scripture” resonate deeply with what my upcoming book is about … Your strong words like “verbal abuse” and “bullying” match what I hear from so many pastors, and of course, I experience a good bit of this myself from sincere yet surprisingly mean-spirited religious people. My prayer for you is that you will find the space, time, and circle of friends in which to truly heal … and that better days will begin to dawn for you, filling you with hope and a renewed sense of vision. What you experience and learn through this “torment” will make you more valuable and qualified than ever as a wounded healer in God’s healing mission.