It’s been one year and three days since I last wrote a blog. There have been a lot of changes in that year and three days, some for the better, some not so much. The biggest change in that year was my stepping away from full-time pastoral ministry in July. Many have asked about that decision, and I’ve been reluctant to dive deeply into the conversation simply because it is a deep conversation, and I’ve discovered most people just don’t want to engage in deep conversations.
I won’t lie. I left the General Conference of the United Methodist Church in February, 2019, with a broken heart. I also left angry. I was angry with the United Methodist Church, with our episcopal leadership, with many colleagues and friends, and yes, I was angry with myself (mostly for being so angry!).
St. Louis was a watershed for me. I saw the Church at its worst, and I knew that I was as responsible for the Church being at its worst as anyone else present. I began to doubt my ability to lead the body of Christ, and as doubt increased, desire decreased. Great doubts and diminished desire. The Church deserves better than that, especially in the face of an impending separation.
There are more reasons behind my ultimate decision, and perhaps in coming months I’ll unpack some of those reasons here, but suffice it to say for now, that I’ve been gone too long…gone from writing…gone from engaging…gone from ministry. So, I suppose this is my way of saying, “I’m back!”
Just what does that mean? Well, as I’ve told many people since July, I haven’t left ministry, just vocational ministry. I felt called by the Lord to step away from vocational ministry and get what my children called “a real job.” I will never leave ministry because my call to ministry was given to me at my baptism, not at my ordination.
So, just what will ministry look like? First, I’ve had an absolute blast filling the pulpit for friends and colleagues in ministry. Current circumstances with the Coronavirus has put a damper on that, but that’s okay. I’ve had an absolute blast watching friends and colleagues be in ministry in new and challenging ways. I’ve got to hear friends and colleagues preach that I never had the opportunity before (for obvious reasons), and I love it. Once we get past this crisis (and we will!), I’ll be available for pulpit supply and revivals.
In addition to pulpit supply, I’m also pursuing writing as a ministry. Yes, I know I’ve been writing sermons for years, but I’ve got a couple of book ideas that have been percolating for years, and I’m going to spend some intentional time writing in that regard. And, you’ll be getting a lot more blogs. I thought about doing some video devotionals, but lacking adequate equipment and the abundance of pastors who are on-line right now, I figured who needed one more voice, so I’ll stick to writing for now.
One more thing I’m pursuing is founding a new non-profit ministry called The Clergy Care Network. The Clergy Care Network will be just that–a network of resources to help clergy and their families who may be struggling in vocational ministry. I know from personal experience the toll pastoral ministry can have on people, marriages and families, and this ministry will be centered on extending help, healing and wholeness to those in struggling in pastoral ministry. Be watching in the months ahead as we get this ministry off the ground.
Oh! And, I’ll be doing “marketplace” ministry as I serve Peoples Bank as their Vice President for Business Development. That’s turned out to be really fun!
Whew! That feels good. I do believe I’ve been gone too long…
Until next time, keep looking up…