Welcome

Ministry offers the prospects of deep spiritual fulfillment, but it never guarantees it.  In our modern age a mix of reception awaits the minister’s quest.  Some churches are ready to move forward with great vision and desire, but too often a local church has no interest in moving in any direction, except returning next Sunday for the same predictable outcome.  The rigid determination to remain the same may even be ready to escalate in hostile steps.  Of all the blasphemous words one might use, the dread cannot reach any further heights as uttering the word . . . {forgive me} . . . c h a n g e.

The minister fresh out of seminary and filled with energized, enthusiastic plans to raise the spirit of the whole world faces uncertain challenge from the church, itself – the very institution which is supposed to support those has become the chief obstacle.  Complacent churches may undermine the gospel itself the freedom to liberate souls in bondage.  An idealized expectation for immediate acceptance of a heavenly vision might lead to some of the deepest heartache a committed minister may ever experience.

In a recent study by the Bethany Fellowship (www.bethanyfellows.org), the dropout rate among first ministry Protestant ministers had been approaching an alarming rate of 40%.  Through mentoring and close spiritual collegiality these number have significantly improved.   Unfortunately, difficult ministries will always be with us.

Forced terminations pose another staggering pain.  Some cases are quite justified, revealing an unworthy and exploitive agenda not in keeping with the ministry of Christ’s gospel.  Clergy causing the trouble and abuse pose noteworthy disappointment.  See “Understanding Clergy Misconduct in Religious Systems: Scapegoating, Family Secrets, and the Abuse of Power,” by Candace R Benyei (Routledge, 1998) for one of the finest treatments for those case when the minister is the problem.

However, the abusive clergy, although far more newsworthy, hardly covers the whole story.  Clergy suffering abuse from bad situations which are not their fault far exceeds the previous consideration.  It’s a tragedy of the church having lost its way and uncertain of its desire for purpose and mission.  When the social dimension overshadows the heavenly we are left with the struggle for personal power and control. We can only guess the number of casualties in which the minister becomes the scapegoat for a church’s discomfort and refusal to manifest the presence of Christ’s expectations for a hurting world.

However, the abuse of Christ’s called ministers is not new.  Jesus was always up front about it and never issued a deceptive “spin” upon our work.  Before his own betrayal and passion he made it very clear that,

“All this I have told you so that you will not fall away.  2 They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. 3 They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. 4 I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them.”      John 16:1-4

Even the Beatitudes clarifies from the very outset of discipleship,

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.              “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”     Matthew 5:10-12

Through many interviews, conversations and 37 years of ministry experience it has become ever so clear that all clergy have experienced some form of abuse in ministry.  The only ones immune to conflict are the ones who do not try very hard.  From the annoyances of nostalgia (AKA “We’ve never done it that way, before”) to the outright predatory behavior of Sociopathy (see the “Antagonists” page of this Web Site) the disrespect and harm is real.  No one is eager to admit their poor treatments, either through pride or tender wounds not yet healed.  Our modern culture glorifies the success of life, forcing ministers to hide the pain and suffer in silence and uncertainty.  Even finding a trusted ministry colleague who understands and is mature enough to handle the struggle requires divine intervention and connections.  Make no mistake, the personal side of ministry is often emotionally overwhelming.

This Web Site is motivated by this very dilemma.  If you have found us you are probably looking for help, comfort and direction.  Don’t give up, that’s why we are doing this, to help.  Misfortune, deserved or not, never requires quitting.  In fact, those wounds from ministry are what will make you a refined and mature leader.  Perhaps that’s the only way real wisdom is ever achieved, by learning the harsh lessons of life.  Welcome to HKU, “Hard Knocks University.”  You will find real wisdom by moving beyond the theoretical notions of “talking” about ministry and begin the task of “doing” ministry.  You are prime material God can use for his higher purposes.

Recognize it for what it really is,

Naiveté, noun

1. Lacking worldly experience and understanding, especially:

    a. Simple and guileless; artless

    b. Unsuspecting or credulous

c. Inexperienced or unsophisticated

2. Characterized by a lack of sophistication and critical judgment

 

Exchange it for the greater discipline of Discernment

  • Open your eyes
  • Acknowledge the Emperor wears no clothes
  • Pull back the Wizards’s curtain
  • Embrace Carl Jung’s “Individuation”
  • Become your own person apart from how others define you
  • Get some “street smarts” into your mind
  • Refine and embrace your convictions

And never abandon Hope.  Just like Andy Dufresne encourages his friend in “The Shawshank Redemption,”

“Remember, Red, hope is a good thing,

maybe the best of things.

And no good thing ever dies.”

 

 

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Respecting the project

This whole endeavor is meant as a gift for Christ’s church.  We are not anticipating monetary profit, although we are no feels, any contributions to further this Web Site’s goals will not be denied.  But it’s not our motive.  We know the pain and injustice of churches in turmoil, distracted from their mission and expectations of our Lord.  We seek the goal of peace-keepers to restore harmony and redirected mission.

As idealistic as it may be, this is all a quest to somehow equip Christ’s church and ministry for faithful obedience to what we are called to be and to do; to stay focused.

In light of such a pursuit, please do not exploit our generosity.  Give credit where it is due and respect the many hours of work and financial expense of putting all this together.  And besides it’s just way too ironic, especially ministers to exploit information from a Web Site addressing poor, exploitative behavior.  Such irony runs critical mass and could be intellectually as well as spiritually fatal.

Please note the work of “ChurchPolitics.org.”

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Under Construction — Newly Launched

This is all a new adventure, but actually a long time in the making.  With the generous granting of a Sabbatical by the Sun City Christian Church, Sun City, AZ, during the summer of 2013, we have launched this Web Site with high hopes of providing information, direction, healing and especially hope to churches and ministers searching their way through the dark valleys of conflict.

The following listing will let you know our intentions of where we are going.

Projected Contents

Page 1) Breaking Icons. Looking at life from a renewed perspective

Page 2) Religiosity. Exposing substitutes for Faith

Page 3) Innovation. Guiding Change and Transitions

Page 4) Politics. Negotiating Conflict Points

Page 5) Tension Stages. Recognizing Conflict Escalation (to be expanded summer 2014)

Page 6) Antagonists.  Identifying those causing turmoil

Page 7) Burnout.  When the toil takes its toll (in process)

Page 8) Adventures in Missing the Point (in process)

Page 9) Stories and interviews from the Ministry Trenches (in process)