...are the ones that make the biggest difference


"I'm as free as a bird now..."

It has been decided - I will work through the end of May and be done. The meeting today went well, there was no bitterness or anger, and they affirmed a lot of what I had done here. It was good to hear that after yesterday's hammering (their words), which was pretty close to 100% negative. The only problem is that they are only offering me one month of severance pay after May, which is in violation of the denomination's standard 90 days, and in all honesty, is not a realistic amount. Yes, I will be actively seeking a new job through May, but things do not always move very quickly. I informed them that I expected at least 2 months of pay and they said they will "look into it." Please pray they do the right thing by us. And, of course, that we would wait patiently for God to direct our steps. But also that he would hurry up already! :)


All but certain

It now appears all but certain that I will be invited to step down from my position as youth pastor. I had a meeting with the elders board today - yup, all 3 of 'em - and I am not meeting their expectations, due almost entirely to very different philosophies of ministry. What I think the kids need and how I can best serve them is increasingly at odds with how they think I should be doing ministry. They are going to get together sometime before we have a followup meeting tomorrow, and though they said the decision wans't final, I'm fairly certain they're sure of what they want to do. Ain't nothing left but the doing, as the saying goes.

I would appreciate your prayers in finding another job and everything that would require (selling the house, finding a place to live, etc). I'm not looking for a youth ministry position again; what this experience has taught me, if nothing else, is that while I love kids, I am not really all that well-suited for working with youth. I'm not sure what I'm looking for, but I do have one lead that is semi-promising and is probably something I would really enjoy doing, so please pray for that. Since I do pretty much all of my blogging at work, my posting frequency may drop off some but I'm not taking a hiatus or anything. Please pray for us and I'll keep you posted.


Unparenting & the future of youth ministry

I read an article yesterday while in the waiting room at a hospital. A boy in my youth group punched a wall after someone dropped a pass in a flag-football game and broke a bone in his hand, requiring a plate and 4 screws to repair. The article was about the conflict between parents & teachers, and it interested me because I work with youth and because my mom has taught elementary school for over 20 years. She's taught 5th grade for the last 10 years or so (correct me if I'm wrong, ma) and taught a couple of other grades prior to that. I spoke with her on the phone last night and I asked her about her experience in dealing with parents. Basically, she said, when she first started teaching elementary school, she had 1 or 2 parents per class that sided with their kids on everything and were lax in supervising their children's progress and school work. The rest of the parents were attentive and responsive, and she knew that if a child got in trouble at school, that child would also get in trouble at home. In short, the threat of calling a kid's parents was real for the majority of the children in her classroom. Today, it is the exact opposite. She has only 1 or 2 parents whom she can call and be confident that they will deal with poor performance or behavior. The rest of the parents just don't want to be bothered - as long as the kid isn't complaining or doing too poorly, they don't really care what's going on. They just want their kids to be "happy", not challenged. They don't want their kids to learn any hard lessons or to experience any significant consequences for their actions. The kids have caught on to this fact and use it to their advantage. Recently, my mom took a day off and when she came back, the sub had left the names of a couple of students who consistenly misbehaved when my mom is gone. For the cumulative effect of their misbehavior, my mom wrote them up and the principal gave them in-school suspension. One student immediately protested and told the principal to call his/her mom, that she should know about this and seemed to think that his/her mom would be able to keep the student out of trouble. I commented to my mom that this almost seems coordinated, almost as if parents nationwide were required to take some class in how to unparent their kids. My mom thinks that parents are simply too tired from work, the extracurricular activities of their kids, etc, to really get involved or care. They don't want the responsibility of actual parenting - they are focused on themelves. Its easier to turn on the tv then to look over homework or eat dinner together as a family.

Back to my context, I see the same thing pretty consistently, though from a different angle. Our Sunday school (for lack of a better term) consists mostly of discussion. I sometimes throw other elements in, but its mostly a question & answer kind of thing with me giving some short homily-like talks. Sometimes when I ask a question, I get some hands raised, but many times I don't. In those times, I have never hesitated to call on someone. I put them on the spot and don't think twice about it. On Sunday morning, a dad came up to me and said that his daughter gets uncomfortable when I call on her and thinks that I put her on the spot. I explained to the dad that I put everyone on the spot at some point, but that I do call on his daughter because she is one of the few kids who will actually offer a substantive answer. She thinks. She responds and dang if that isn't exactly what I'm looking for and trying to encourage in these kids. The dad said he told her this was a growth opportunity and would pass my words on to her, and I said I would try to make sure I don't call on her any more often than any other kid. He just wanted me to be aware of this so I don't alienate his daughter. Other parents, though, when they have a problem with something I've said or done, or rather, when their child has had a problem, have come at me with both barrels. Or sat in sullen resentment waiting for the opportunity to undermine me with other parents or the pastoral staff.

In education, this is bad. Disinterested parents result in disinterested kids, who know more about gaming the system than anything taught in schools. However, school is at least required, both legally and pragmatically. A child knows that he won't be able to get any kind of halfway decent job when he grows up if he doesn't at least graduate from high school and the majority of high school students say they plan on going on to college. One can hope, perhaps somewhat unrealistically, that just being in school will cause something to "stick." These kids will learn something about life and academics through their time in the classroom. Like I said, in education, this attitude by parents is bad; in ministry, it is downright disastrous. The family is the primary spiritual training ground - if faith is not modeled and lived out at home, then most students will think that being a Christian entails showing up at church on Sundays and little else. A parent that won't take 10 minutes to look over elementary math homework (which can literally be "2+2=_"), certainly isn't going to take 10 minutes to pray with their kids or really talk to them about their day. Faith then becomes an abstraction or a duty; you sing along on Sunday morning, stand at the appropriate times, listen to a sermon you will promptly forget and then go home to do exactly what everybody else is doing. Unparenting is killing the faith of our youth and making youth ministry all but obsolete. Youth ministry used to be about providing extra instruction, social activities, a chance for kids to make the necessary separation from their parents while maintaining strong contacts with other adults and opportunities for kids to live out the faith they learned at home. It was simply an extension and amplification of the ministry of the family.

This is no longer the case - youth ministry has largely become a stand-alone endeavor, meant to evangelize, convert, disciple and grow students in the faith. And its impossible. For the majority of students, youth ministry cannot do all of that, especially when you consider the counter-example that is being lived out at home. Its really only when the whole family gets involved, when parents take the primary role they were meant to play in the spiritual leadership and instruction of their family, is any realy progress made in the lives of the youth. This means the larger church has to do more to equip parents to assume that role - it has to provide the tools, the knowledge, and perhaps more importantly, the challenge to see themselves as pastoral leaders in their own homes. I don't think many churches are actually doing this for a very simple reason: marketing. If parents are mostly focused on themselves, on satisfying their own desires and needs, and view kids as something to be juggled or managed, then they are going to go to the church that is the easiest and most comfortable. They will be drawn to the church that supports that mission of self-fulfillment because no one really likes to be challenged or be told to engage in some self-denial. These churches will focus on that mission to the neglect of equipping parents to be parents, because this precisely what they seem to want to avoid, thus putting more butts in the seats. And you can quickly see how the church is encouraging unparenting and putting a heavier and heavier burden on the youth ministry. It is a burden that it, quite simply, cannot bear much longer. Youth ministry is already becoming ineffective - soon, it may be die altogether.



Can anyone tell me why the line spacing gets compressed after a blockquote? And more importantly, can anyone tell me how to fix it?

The Punitive Father God of Fundamentalism

I am an occasional reader and commenter over on Karen's Kinesis, formally of "Heretic's Corner" fame. In a recent post, Karen suggested, somewhat lightheartedly I believe, to get newcomer packets ready for all the progressive Catholics who might be jumping ship after the election of the 'Rottweiler'. One commenter posted "I don't think Love and Spirit will be what we see from this Bishop of Rome." This irked me. The man sees things differently and that somehow renders him un-Loving (not sure what the capital 'l' signifies) and un-Spirited? I responded to that comment with some questions about, had the conclave elected a progressive/liberal pope, wouldn't that have likely resulted in the unloving alienation of the majority of the world's Catholics who are conservative socially and theologically?

Not much of a response to that. However, another poster did say "there remains hope God was involved in his election..." Oh my, I couldn't resist. Because the man is conservative, then the default position must be that God did NOT have anything to do with his election? Conservatives can only be elected apart from and in spite of the activity of the Lord? Here is the response:

It is of course absurd that God voted in this conclave, otherwise those cardinals would have chosen the Dalai Lama, or some other sensible person. God would no more have voted for Ratzi the Nazi than for Dubbya. No, this clearly was a rigged election, every bit as corrupt as back in the days of Avignon, on y danse, on y danse. Quite a contrast to the election of +Bishop Robinson in NH, which was obviously the work of the Spirit. It never ceases to amaze me that reactionaries can't see the difference. Pardon me--won't see. Their blindness must be deliberate.

I would commend to all this response to the calamity by Father/Mother Matthew Fox, who has said everything Karen tried to say, only better.

Now, I wasn't immediately sure if this wasn't tongue in cheek. Granted, the poster's handle is "radicalfeministpoet" but you never know. Then I clicked on the link, which consists of 22 questions for the new pontiff. Apparently, Pope Benedict XVI loves/d Hitler, follows the example of fascism, is an ideologue and not a theologian, is obsessed with sex and may, in fact, want to put homosexuals into concentration camps "as Hitler did", is aware that Pope John Paul I was murdered by cardinals and JPII's election was influenced by the CIA, is not really a Christian, and may not be aware that "evil spirits have taken over the Vatican at this time in history". The final question is a fun one:

"22. Why do you forbid Catholics to talk about God as Mother? God as Child? Original Blessing instead of Original Sin (which is not in the Bible)? God as female as well as male?"

Last I checked, describing God as mother, child & female, and whatever "Original Blessing" may be, aren't in the Bible either. Apparently by Dr. Fox's logic, so long as it isn't actually in the Bible, pretty much any title or descriptor for God will do. (As will any concept - what the hell is "Original Blessing"?) Dr. Fox, though, isn't entirely demoralized by this "rigged election." No, there is some hope:

Now the good news. The silver lining in the election of this, the first Grand Inquisitor as Pope, is this: Now people of conscience the world over have a clear choice between Religion and Spirituality; Fundamentalism and Wisdom; A Punitive Father God and the Mother-Father Creator of Justice and Compassion; Fascism and Control vs. Letting the Spirit Work; between a preferential option for the rich and powerful (cf. Opus Dei) and a preferential option for the poor (as in liberation theology).

Now all people--and Catholics in particular--are called to find their consciences and take a stand about the Punitive Father God of Fundamentalism and the Divine Wisdom of Justice and Compassion and against idolatry including religious idolatry and papalolatry and the television cult of personality, and between lies and truth.

If this is all the substance the progressives can muster - unsupported allegations, ceaseless ad hominems and fun (unbiblical) phrases like "Mother-Father Creator of Justice and Compassion", well, their ship has sunk. No reasoned argument, no in-depth theological debate, just diatribe and polemic. Nothing to stand for, just against. It is rotted out from the inside and soon, will not be able to support the anger & hatred that they try to disguise as "letting the Spirit work."



From House Set to Approve Energy Bill:

The House bill also would shield the makers of MTBE, a gasoline additive that has prompted dozens of lawsuits over drinking water contamination, from defective product liability claims. The issue was blamed for scuttling energy legislation in the Senate in 2003.

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, has insisted that the MTBE liability waiver be included, arguing that the oil industry produced MTBE to help meet government-imposed clean air requirements in the 1990s, so Congress should protect the industry against what is expected to be an avalanche of lawsuits that claim the product is defective.

Or should it open the government to liability suits? I mean, if the industry was forced to use an unsafe product due to government requirements, why isn't the government at least partially liable for the problems that product caused?

College decisions and revolution: an office debate

The mother of a girl in my youth group (a graduating senior and I am sorry to see her go) volunteers one morning a week in the church office. This girl is having a hard time picking a college, but one of the top three is a Mennonite school in Indiana. When the possibility of this particular school first raised its head, the mother was disappointed and exclaimed "they don't even believe in war." It seemed (and seems) odd to me to base a college decision on whether or not it is wholeheartedly in favor of war. The mother is in the office this morning and I asked her if her daughter had made a choice yet. She said no but revealed that the Mennonite school was still in the running. Another pastor suggested they really investigate this school's views on salvation, scripture and sexuality, since these are the areas where the Mennonites have turned quite liberal in recent years.

The mother, though, still perplexed by their pacifist ideals asked "what would they make of the Revolutionary War?" I wanted to ask "what the hell does that have to do with anything?", as if the Revolutionary War holds some special place in the history of wars because it involved the founding of America or something. But I refrained. Instead, I pointed out that from a biblical perspective a la Romans 13, the Revolutionary War was wrong since it involved militant disobedience to the established powers. Stunned silence ensued, followed by one office member saying something about the nature & behavior of the government. I pointed out that the text offers no such caveat or exception - whether or not the government is nice or plays fair doesn't matter, moreso when you realize Paul was writing under the Roman government which had many moments of exceptional brutality. Well, she immediately went for a Bible to prove me wrong, but gave up after a few minutes.

The mother listened for a few minutes and then asked me what my point was. "My point," says I, "was that it does not matter what the school's view on the Revolutionary War is because, in light of the most plain sense reading of the text, our view on it is wrong. We think the Revolutionary War was an unmitigated good, never considering the possibility that it just might have been a sinful act." Not that God cannot and has not brought some extreme good out of it, and not that, perhaps, that text should not be taken overly literal so as to preclude the possibility of any exceptions. The debate kind of moved from there to the perceived legalism of the Mennonites in regard to following the example of Christ, and the mother chimes in with a sneering "and that is the only way to be meek." I pointed out that it is pretty hard to consider a soldier laying down suppressive fire with a machine gun "meek." That's more or less where the discussion ended, but I walked away extremely frustrated. Frustrated that people are unwilling to consider the ideas and beliefs of others, unwilling to critically evaluate their own thought systems and so damn condescending and spiteful towards fellow Christians. I'm not saying we should be so open that we uncritically accept anything that comes along, but why can't we at least be open to discussion?


Its official - 3 good things

My brother is officially engaged! He popped the question on Saturday night, and though technically she didn't say anything, the tears and extended hug were taken as an affirmative response. He did at the piano bar where they both work on the weekends - the pianist/singer stopped in the middle of his set and my brother called her up there with him and got down on one knee. Its funny, he started off saying all the romantic stuff you would expect at a proposal but a lot of people in the crowd were still surprised (loud gasps and what not) when he dropped down and brought out the ring (what were they expecting?). Everyone cheered and toasted them after it was over and there more than a few women who started crying. My brother was so nervous - all day Saturday he kept asking me "do you think she'll say yes?" The relief and joy on his face after she finally did, in fact, "say" yes was incredible. That alone made for a wonderful weekend, but I also got to see my folks who came in from Arizona for the event. Though it was a short visit, it was good to see them. We'll have an extended visit in a about a month and a half, so this was kind of a preview. Great weekend all around. Just one of those happy, togetherness times - something the wife and I really needed right now. No idea on the wedding date, but hopefully it won't be a very long engagement.

A couple who used to be in our small group took our dog for us for the weekend. We've watched each other's puppies a couple of times, but this time our dog was acting really weird when we got him back. He almost seemed like he was sick. He's normally very affectionate and very active, but he wouldn't come over to us on his own and would kind of go off and huddle by himself. But he would chase his ball and was eating fine, so I don't think he was sick; I think they were mean to him. They have a St. Bernard pup about the same age and he is, to put it lightly, a big tub of goo. Zero personality and certainly not very active. I'm betting our normal little active puppy was more than they could handle. Needless to say, that is the last time they will watch our lil' buddy. Thankfully, he was pretty much back to his old self by yesterday afternoon.

I got my graduation packet in the mail yesterday. Magna cum laude for a BA in Religious Studies. I really thought I was going to get summa, but then my wife pointed out that I did get a 'c' in one class we took together a year and a half ago. It was a class on Islam and the teacher was a French-Turk who did not take well to my refusal to swallow her apologetic presentation of the material. Apparently pointing out that a woman getting 1/4 the inheritance of her brothers is still patriarchal and discriminatory against women when the professor is trying to present it as englightened and egalitarian is a sure-fire way to piss her off. Correcting her mistaken interpretations of the Bible only adds fuel to the fire. Oh well. I can expect my diploma approximately 12 weeks after graduation, which I will not be attending, so I can have it framed and hung on my wall by mid-fall. That seems like an awful long time, but hey, graduated is graduated and I'm glad to finally be done!


Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience

An interesting interview on Christianitytoday.com with Ron Sider, author of the new book Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience. I'm limited on time today, so only a couple of excerpts:

How do we turn the ship around?
We need to rethink our theology. We need to ask, "Are we really biblical?" Cheap grace is right at the core of the problem. Cheap grace results when we reduce the gospel to forgiveness of sins only; when we limit salvation to personal fire insurance against hell; when we misunderstand persons as primarily souls; when we at best grasp only half of what the Bible says about sin; when we embrace the individualism and materialism and relativism of our current culture. We also lack a biblical understanding and practice of the church.

Today, when so many congregations are abandoning biblical truth, you say in the book that all congregations need to be connected to a denomination. Are you serious?
Absolutely. It's simply wrong for a local congregation to have no accountability to a larger body. Now I'm not saying it has to be one of the current denominations. There can be new structures of accountability. Any congregations that feel they must break away from older denominations that are no longer faithful theologically or in terms of moral practice should be a part of some new denominational, organizational structure so they're not isolated lone rangers. They need to have a larger structure of accountability. It is flatly unbiblical and heretical for an individual congregation to say, "We'll just be by ourselves and not be accountable to anybody."


The Letters of St. Ignatius of Antioch - Consensus III

Thanks to some advice from Clifton , who has an ongoing diablog about soteriology that is meters over my head and dauntingly voluminous, I started reading through the letters of St. Ignatius of Antioch last night for my personal edification. I figured I'd read through the shorter recensions first, then the longer and then come back to a little more in-depth study & comparison. I read through his letters to the Ephesians, Magnesians, Trallians (I think) and got fairly well into his letter to the Romans before being forced to retire by my current head cold/upper respiratory hoopla.

For those coming from a Protestant background, like myself, St. Ignatius' focus on the role and authority of the bishop is startling. He frequently links submission and obedience to the bishop to our submission and obedience to Christ Himself. To Ignatius, the bishop is the hinge on which unity swings.

Wherefore it is fitting that ye should run together in accordance with the will of your bishop, which thing also ye do. For your justly renowned presbytery, worthy of God, is fitted as exactly to the bishop as the strings are to the harp. Therefore in your concord and harmonious love, Jesus Christ is sung. And do ye, man by man, become a choir, that being harmonious in love, and taking up the song of God in unison, ye may with one voice sing to the Father through Jesus Christ, so that He may both hear you, and perceive by your works that ye are indeed the members of His Son. It is profitable, therefore, that you should live in an unblameable unity, that thus ye may always enjoy communion with God. Letter to the Ephesians, ch 4

Let no man deceive himself: if any one be not within the altar, he is deprived of the bread of God. For if the prayer of one or two possesses such power, how much more that of the bishop and the whole Church! He, therefore, that does not assemble with the Church, has even by this manifested his pride, and condemned himself. For it is written, 'God resisteth the proud.' Let us be careful, then, not to set ourselves in opposition to the bishop, in order that we may be subject to God. ibid, ch 5

It seems fairly obvious that the bishop would play a significant role in the unity of the church. If all the churches in his region were under his authority, then by virture of his position he could keep all the churches on the same page. By conferring with other bishops and coming into theolocial and ecclesiological agreement, the bishop could thus preserve unity within the larger church. So from an entirely pragmatic perspective, the office of bishop is a useful, and perhaps needful, thing. I can scarcely imagine with things would be like in America today if all of the local churches were to subject themselves to a bishop in order to bring about unity. This is an impossibility, I know, but still an attractive idea.

But here is where St. Ignatius' thinking becomes most unsettling -

For we ought to receive every one whom the Master of the house sends to be over His household, as we would do Him that sent him. It is manifest, therefore, that we should look upon the bishop even as we would upon the Lord Himself.ibid, ch 6 emphasis mine

This removes all pragmatic considerations from the table, or at least relegates them to the kiddie table off to the side. To Ignatius, the bishop is not merely a functionary of unity; he is an icon of Christ. The bishop manifests Christ to us in a unique way and it is more than just a derivation of authority, for we are not told to respect him like we would Christ or to obey him as if he were the Lord, but to "look upon the bishop as we would upon the Lord Himself." The implications of this are, to say the least, immense. If St Ignatius's writing accurately reflects the understanding of the earliest Christians - and despite the controversy surrounding some of his (alleged) writings and likely interpolations, it appears widely assumed that it does - then the office and role of the bishop are a central question to the Chrisitan faith. It is little wonder that Calvin repudiated all the Ignatian epistles as spurious; they are clearly opposed to Protestantism at almost every level.

This, of course, ties into my earlier posts (here and here) on the impossibility of consensus between the early church and the Reformation. This by itself is not a conclusive argument about the potential error of the Reformation, however. It is entirely possible for a modern Christian to dismiss these differences as inconsequential, to say the early church's practices were culturally determined or influenced and are not normative for the present day. But if this is true, how do we know her theology was not similarly adulterated? How can we trust the canon she produced or the doctrines she promulgated? This kind of argument would seem to leave us foundationless, with only a tenuous connection to Christ and His Apostles.

Assuming the early church's praxis is normative for the moment, what are we modern Christians to do with that? More specifically, what am I supposed to do with it? Yeah, yeah, I think I already know the answer, but man, things would be a whole lot easier if it were different.


Corruption round-up

An unfortunate round-up of the corruption problems the US and Iraqi governments are facing, much of which could have been prevented and could now be prosecuted. Emphasis on could.


Beijing enforces the party line...

For anyone who ever thought maybe communist China wasn't so bad...

"In a surprisingly broad and deep targeting of thought and expression here, authorities across China have shut or drastically curtailed college Internet message boards - a powerful vehicle for free exchange, and one used far more by non-students than students."

"The crackdown is another phase of a broad and zealous campaign situated inside the central propaganda department that advocates a 'strengthening of ideology' [read: brainwashing and crushing dissent] through stricter control over culture, education, and media."

The government has also introduced new education requirements that force students to take several classes in communist ideology.

"The new [education] campaign is designed to create greater faith in the party among ordinary Chinese. It is also an effort to bring results that communist Eastern Europe was unable to achieve as it became freer during the 1980s, informed sources say. The party in China intends for the country to achieve a high-growth economy, but without the dissent and uncontrolled openness found in the Warsaw bloc prior to the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989."

When communism fails in China, and it will eventually go the way of the dodo, that country will probably descend into total chaos. After all this repression, people just won't know what to do.


Actively seeking

I had a youth conference Friday night and all day Saturday, and it was...well...(how do I put this diplomatically?) it was TBN-ish. Yeah, that's probably about the best way to put it. I only had a few kids sign up (one had to drop out due to illness), so it was a small group from my church, but overall there were probably about 400 kids. It started out pretty good - the band and singer were in good form and the music, though not exactly to my tastes, was God-focused. But then things got TBN-ish. The main speaker was frenetic - he spoke quickly and with frequent side-bars in funny voices (this being a youth conference, after all), and, I promise I am not exaggerating, every syllable of every word was punctuated with some kind of hand gesture. Whether it was both arms flailing over his head, chopping up and down, back and forth, pointing, hand to chest or some combination thereof, he never stopped moving. At first, it was quite distracting, but after a while it became almost hypnotic. He also made up some of his own terminology - I mean, is "idolaterize" really a word? - and they repeated the same 4 or 5 songs throughout the weekend, sometimes 2 or 3 times in the same session. I took a class on cults in college, and they were meeting some of the criteria - hypnosis through those gestures and the repetitive songs, and making up their own words. I was half expecting to be handed a rifle on Saturday night and told to hole up in the mountains so I could resist the federal government. It was weird.

But thanks to the Cult Recruiting Conference, I had a little flex-time to burn this morning, so I went to a local coffee shop. Kind of in preparation for another analytical post on my church, I started writing down the strengths and weaknesses of my church, trying to be as honest as I could. This church does do some things very well and frequently the motivation for the things that bother me is a good one, as well. I may think its wrong to play secular music in the service, but they are doing that in order to break down false barriers to faith that people often erect. They are trying to reach out and be relevant, even if I think the relevance they are producing does more harm than good. So I took stock and asked "how likely is it that any of these problems (as I see them) are going to change?" I realized it is not likely at all. We will not abandon the business model of our church, at least not easily, because that has been the norm for many years. We will not pursue a strong discipleship program because of our major emphasis on evangelism - when resources are limited, and they often are, evangelism will carry the day every time. And because of that emphasis on evangelism, it would take major efforts to show that, perhaps, the way we do things is not the best way. Even then, there would be major institutional resistance from the lay leadership since that is not the church that they know. We are not likely to implement a strong elder board so the senior pastor has someone to be accountable too because, quite frankly, he has gotten used to the freedom of his position. Personally, I know it will be hard to go back to a "regular" job after this precisely because of the freedom I have.

So these things are not likely to change, and even if they do, they will take some time - years probably. And, quite frankly, neither my wife nor myself are really willing to invest that kind of time here - either in this church or this town. With that in mind, it would be dishonest of me to stay here any longer than I need to. I am not on board with the mission and praxis of this church any longer. Basically, then, we're going to be actively seeking the Lord for a time to leave, a place to go, a job to get and a smooth transition. I am quite certain that I do not want to get another job in youth ministry right now - I'll post more on the reasons for that later - but I'm not sure what I'd like to do. I would appreciate your prayers for what I listed above and for the kids here. They will be the hardest thing to leave and that is honestly the biggest obstacle to leaving in my mind right now. I think of telling them that we're leaving and I don't even know how to begin to explain the many reasons for it.