The budget passes, with a reluctant majority. The pastor sweats as the whispers continue. No one knows how they’re going to keep their pastor. The pastor becomes very anxious, but doesn't know how to respond, because the minister has not done anything wrong. There has even been growth and vitality in the last years. But that still can't make up for the last couple decades of decline or keep people alive. The pastor has mouths to feed and loans to pay. The message is clear. The church will not be able to afford their leadership for long. It's hard to focus on ministry, so the pastor begins putting energy and effort into looking for another call.
I've seen family relationships crash and burn on the Christian celebrity circuit. I've seen how we get so addicted to praise that we can't handle criticism. But when we write, we generally become healthier humans.
We often like to speak, in Christian circles, about the God who descends, who comes down, who is somehow nearest to those on the bottom, those who find themselves on the wrong side of the score. The words roll off our churchy tongues almost too easily. Friend of sinners . . . Blessed are the poor, those who mourn . .
It has been two years now since I left my work in congregational ministry—which means that for the past two years I have been able to consistently worship with my family instead of sitting in the pastor’s seat in the sanctuary. We have gotten into a particular habit lately, where my son sits in between my husband and me in the historic and weathered pews of our small congregation.