Tuesday, October 14, 2008

How much of this is theological confusion?

So how much does burnout amongst clergy have to do with theological differences? Here is what I mean.

Today I attended a gathering of our local pastors. Each of us is from a different denomination. We get along well. We disagree on some theological stuff, I suppose. It rarely comes up. But when leaders from Roman Catholic, Salvation Army, Southern Baptists, Disciples of Christ and Nazarene churches get together...it is fair to assume that our denominational and theological templates don't match perfectly. We gather with a larger purpose, however, and it is a good thing.

Now one non-clergy person visited us...felt that God is asking him to get the churches together for a "revival." He is a good man. However, the kind of revival he would envision, and the one that others in the room might picture, would be completely different. So we smiled, nodded and moved-on.

But in our congregations, people have received their theological training from varying sources such as TBN, Christian "End of the World" horror novels and movies, their grandfathers, Oprah and even a smattering of proof-texts from scripture. And these people come from one of two camps: "What I believe is the absolute, undeniable, complete gospel truth;" or "What I believe is just one option amongst many...no one can know the complete truth."

And as you read the above paragraphs, you fit into something close to one of the two camps just listed. How can we get along, when there are such emotionally powerful biases in our midst?

And when pastors lead on Sunday mornings, already feeling they are "constantly on trial," how can they stand anywhere with any confidence? I'd say we either preach loud and hard line. Or we teach series of how to do life, that avoid these issues; or we hope people will never find out the deep truths we hold in our hearts.

So, if anyone is listening...what do you think?


Carolyn Kazen said...

This is just a thought that has been occurring, even nagging at me for over two years, Jesus ministered, then retreated for prayer and renewal of the Holy Spirit...pastors are paid staff and have little freedom or access to retreat. We have a second home in Northern Michigan just west of Omena on the western side of Grand Traverse Bay. It sits vacant most of the year and I want to make it available to almost runaway pastors and their families...it's website is tanglewoodmichigan.com and is just over 2hours north of Grand Rapids. I am willing to work out most any financial arrangement with churches that want to make this retreat place available to pastors. We have tried to market it for vacation rental, but the doors have remained shut in that regard. I pray the the Lord might direct those who need such a place to it as our ministry. Please contact me through the tanglewoodmichigan website.

david said...

Carolyn, this is so unbelievable! Thank you so much for such an overwhelmingly kind and grace-filled offer. I will check the website.

Also, I hope others see this. Is it OK if I mention it in the post?

Zee said...

i often wonder why on earth are there so many different denominations. i mean, i get all the "correct" answers like "we're all different" and all... but the question is, is our God different for different people? NO. *shrug* IMHO.

often i want to go back in the old times when there was only one church of the Way... i guess the quote about being like kids in order to enter the kingdom of heaven can apply to the Church as well. we're "too grown up" nowadays. we know all about the Councils and theology and proleptic way and sanctification being a process and a moment. yet, i wonder if we know too much...

the more you learn, the more you understand that you haven't learned anything, said one of the ancient philosophers (not sure who it was)...

it's hard to find the Truth nowadays. there are too many opinions, too much information, too many differences. the Truth is buried under all those.

so i guess burnout happens when a person just gets swamped by all these piles of numbers / opinions / stuff and cannot see clearly anymore.