January 3, 2012

Why I have Been MIA And What I Have Been Doing

I have been off the grid now for about a month and a half. I didn't intend to do that. In fact I had intended to do something quite different. I had planned on blogging about my positive experiences at West End as my tenure as associate pastor comes to an end in a scant 28 days (Or in 4 youth groups, 3 young adult bible studies, 5 staff meetings, 4 Sunday services, 3 sermons and 1 youth leaders meeting).

However over the past few weeks I have found myself a little more emotionally volatile than I had expected. I was drifting back and forth between good moods, bad moods, anger, hurt, and frustration faster than I could keep track. I decided that I didn't want to blog if I was either a) ignoring my mood, or b) unfairly making comments that had more to do with my state of mind than facts.

I am likely putting those terms in the past tense by mistake. Just yesterday a rather simple e-mail sent me on an emotional roller coaster for a few hours. I suspect I have more ups and downs to navigate yet.

Beyond mood swings I have also been doing a great deal of reflection and prayer. I have been trying to sort out who I am, and what God is calling me too. And given all I was reading I was beginning to feel something like a man out of time. I was wondering why has God placed me here at this time and not 60-100 years ago.

I was thinking and feeling that if only I had been starting my ministry in 1906 instead of 2006 life would be much easier.

It is no secret that the church is in a state of flux right now. We appear to be losing ground, old methods and beliefs are being questioned, and it has in some way become very chic to criticize the church. That being said I have found very few compelling visions forward. We have become experts at pointing out places where we have gone wrong, but we seem a little lost on how to put things back to right.

In fact a scene from the Simpsons has been running through my head now for the better part of two years.

Who Knew A Diet of Beer, Fried Foods, and Donuts Caused Heart Problems
Back in 1992 Homer Simpson had a heart problem (go figure). There is a moment when He, Marge and Dr. Hibbert are in his office talking about Homers condition. Here is in my opinion the best lines from the conversation;

Marge: Can't you do something for him?
Dr. Hibbert: Well, we can't fix his heart, but we can tell you exactly how damaged it is.
Homer: What an age we live in

This seems to be the age we are living in. Everyone has become an expert on what the church had done/is doing wrong. Everyone seems to know where clergy have messed up/are messing up. But where do we go from here? Now that we have deconstructed the church, and our faith how do we move forward?

The truth is I am not sure. I can't really answer my own questions very well right now.

But over the past few weeks one thing has changed. I no longer feel like a man out of time. I feel renewed in my sense of calling and purpose. I don't want to join the chorus of the naysayers and doomsday predictors, nor do I want to toss my hat in with the niche church movement or the house church movement. Instead I want to help change some of the things that I feel are wrong with the historic institutional church that has helped to raise me in the faith.

I am excited for what God has in store for me, and for the church in these coming years. I hope you are too!