Dear Future Pastor,
One of the most enlightening decisions I have made in the last three years is to distance my faith from the culture that has been created by it.
While I would hesitate from turning my experience into a step-by-step handbook, I will offer to you how I think it has helped me, and if you find some kind of inspiration in it, all the better.
For years I was immersed in a parallel culture, one that glided alongside a similarly functioning secular one, only smaller in scope. Like any tribe or people group, my religious culture had a language, values, mores and traditions that made perfect sense while I lived among it, but now that I have moved to another place, I look back and scratch my head at certain former ways of carrying on with life.
I pulled out some old “worship” CD’s today and listened to what I was captured by a mere few years ago. The songs I considered cutting edge seem so different now that I am outside the culture that created them. Please don’t hear me saying that they are bad, inferior or that I have somehow become enlightened and superior in judgment over them. It’s just that I have a different point of view.
As the music played, I recalled with fondness some of lyrics that I sang and even wrote, but asked myself why they don’t hold the same meaning now. I believe it’s because I have learned to speak a different language now, and vernacular of the religious culture doesn’t translate very easily into my new life.
The Church as We Know It holds its own language in reverence. But does your average outsider have a category for terms like King of Kings and Lord of Lords or Lamb of God or I want to touch You, I want You to hold me, I need to feel your arms around me, draw near and caress me with Your embrace?
Now that I am an outsider, these don’t seem to make as much sense to me, either.
Future Pastor, I’m not trying to throw you into confusion, but you will have to take into serious consideration these kinds of changes you will inevitably face if you decide to take seriously becoming a pastor of The Church of the Future.
Guilt is one of those paths you will likely have to walk. Prepare to ask yourself, Am I doing the right thing? Am I walking away from the core of my faith? Am I abandoning orthodoxy? Am I ashamed of the gospel or even my profession? I went through a season having to answer these questions. But I eventually have come to accept the wrestling match with guilt as a part of the process of becoming who I was made to be.