I’ve struggled with how much of my wrestling I can share. As a seen leader of a church congregation there is this expectation that you are extremely careful with what you share. Questioning the incarnation of Christ? Well, fine, but don’t share that you are, you might lead people astray. Wondering if the Bible is the Word of God? Don’t. Constantly wrestling with what God is or who God is? Have faith that your current understanding of the Bible is the absolute truth and only encourage people to have faith in that as well.
The pressure is enough to make one want to quit both any type of leadership and also wondering and exploring at all.
Being a pastor has responsibilities that I take seriously. For example, I don’t want to cause someone to spiral in depression because of the relativity of religious truth or to hint an never ending meaninglessness. Or, I don’t want to give someone confidence in God’s promises when maybe they just won’t happen. It’s a tension that is not comfortable. On one hand you want to comfort people and encourage them. On the other hand you want to speak truth and help remove the blinders.
I’ve continuously struggled with this in the last eight years at theStory. I have spent the last fifteen years wrestling with theological, philosophical and political issues. Homosexuality, salvation, God, economics, sociology, business and race are all things that I think and read about – and a wide variety of perspectives on all of them. The issue is, that most people in our congregation do not read about these things, at least as much as I do, and in some ways either don’t care or just don’t understand where my head goes at times. As an individual though I need an outlet. I need to think these ideas out loud and hear people interact with them and respond. The pulpit I have learned is not a place for that.
Some people think that I have the same responsibility with my blog as I do from my pulpit. I tend to agree with them as I don’t think that the pulpit is that special of a place, especially with our church and the same people are probably reading this as well. This comes with the understanding that wherever I speak, I am responsible for what I say. People are listening, reading and digesting my words.
So how does one think outside the box but stay with their community? How do I avoid leading people astray into all sorts of crazy directions as I explore them myself? I want to be honest and vulnerable in where I am and what I’m thinking about but I am unsure how to do that in the context of a community where people are in different places.