As I reflect upon 2008 and continue to look ahead to 2009 I have begun reading "A New Kind of Christian" by Brian McLaren and it is a veritable ray of sunshine in my darkness at the moment.
I have been out of church now for 9 months and am feeling ready, in early 2009, to begin steps towards beginning a house church. As I have pondered my journey which mirrors that of Dan Poole in the book I realize that one of the sticking points is the pseudo-priestly role of evangelical pastors in the eyes of some church members.
What I mean is that in the Catholic system the priest is called "Father" and you come to church to receive a word from the priest who is God's representative and voice. The priest gives communion as the agent who is able to offer the sacrament and is also able to dispense forgiveness. This is a very terse generalization but my concern is that the evangelical pastor often feels a subtle pressure to be right or more right than the church with which we don't agree. The church member turns up on a Sunday to sing some songs, feel good and then hear what advice and information the pastor can mediate from the pulpit. It is very much a priestly role and one with which I am not comfortable.
I recall my previous preaching engagements which were very well received but I found it frustrating trying to offer challenges and exhortations for people to make a difference in the Monday-Saturday part of life. Many people didn't seem to want to be challenged; they simply wanted to hear me offer a well-presented message that made them feel better about themselves and the next stop was morning tea and catching up with one's friends. I remember many a time when I would sit by myself at the end of the sermon despondent that people didn't seem to be too challenged or touched even though I had put all my heart into my exhortation. Yes, some people responded but the majority of people seemed to have a medium-level expectation which they weren't prepared to give up.
I don't want to be righter than the next man or more loved by Jesus; I just want to explore my own journey of faith and, as a pastor, I want to listen, share, dialogue and encourage others with their journeys of faith.
This is a ramble and a distillation of my thoughts. Any ideas?