For five years I was pastor of a congregation of mostly 20- and 30-somethings, a group some would call postmodern or “emergent.” Spirit Garage was born in the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis, an area populated by thousands of young people. In those days people would ask me about our model or formula for this ministry. I always found it hard to describe. But after taking up a new sport, I found an apt comparison: ministry in the postmodern era is like racing mountain bikes.
Several decades ago, when I was filling out my application for seminary admission, I came to a question that asked me to provide biblical justification for my calling. I knew I wanted to attend seminary, but found it difficult to state why. Then I remembered my Wesley Foundation pastor preaching on 1 Corinthians 9:16b, and I wrote, “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel.” The text expressed the urgency I felt and even a tinge of divine necessity—although I think I knew even then that I was going a bit too far.
When I asked my friend about his work as an associate pastor, he ripped into his senior minister: “He won’t communicate! He doesn’t even seem interested in what I do at his church!” When I spoke with a senior pastor, he sighed. “Sometimes with my staff I feel like my dad did during a long car trip. When we kids would get rambunctious, he’d take just so much before turning around to give us a good whack.”
A new pastor learns about the church's annual tarrin’ party.