What are we doing to combat poverty
in our country and make sure that we join the voices of the prophets who speak
out against injustice? Often denominational churches work hard on these issues,
but we do it within our particular silos and we may not effectively
communicate our work.
So can we put Newt Gingrich's personal life and rhetoric aside and focus on how we can fix our families? Can we move the discussion of family away from demonizing same-gender relationships and taking rights away from women? Can we have an honest discussion about what we can do to help American families?
Once you finally get a job, then you need to get a “real” job. Then you can expect to be laid off at least once in your life. Then you have to retool and enter the workforce again. Then even if you get your “dream” job, you might come to the realization that you’re destroying your family and your personal life, and the dream becomes a bit of a nightmare. Then you begin to realign all your goals. Then you begin to look toward retirement, and you begin to imagine what your vocation is going to be when you retire.
You might be on a committee that thinks that a candidate needs that extra training before they ought to be ordained. They could use some time in a hospital setting or in a real world setting before they earn that REV before their name. If you are, then let me tell you something that the seminary student under your care can’t tell you: students can’t afford it any longer.
As we’re all in the midst of Advent longing, I realize that I’m turning 40 in a couple of days. Which puts me in an odd position, since I write and speak about ministering with people in their 20s and 30s.
More than half of our small congregations cannot afford a full-time pastor, and many
associate pastor positions were cut during the recent economic downturn.
These are churches where
seminary graduates would normally be heading, so what are the
congregations doing instead?
It’s scary. Sometimes, we Scrappers have to swallow our pride in order to start working with the institution that turned us away. Often, Scrappers develop autonomy and a certain voice that we fear we'll lose if we move into partnership with an established organization. We worry that the structure will steal our ideas and they'll have the money and power to pull them off—without us.
When I combined the popular ideas of God in my mind, I ended up with a strange stew—a lover God who would torture me with fire if I stepped out of line and bless me with diamonds if I obeyed. In other words, my image of God had a serious borderline personality disorder.
After a couple of years of sweating over each syllable, I suddenly needed the words. I hungered to write them. On vacations, my family urged me to take a break and I
became cranky. What happened? How did the words begin to grow like wildflowers
that I no longer had to coddle?