Ok I’m inventing another word…

Its that time of year when the music stops and pastors who left their chair in this round of ‘musical churches’ either take their seat somewhere else or wait for the next round and hope to get a seat then. Its always interesting to see who finishes up where and to wonder what happens to those who didn’t get picked up.

It seems that we have grown to accept that pastors will change churches – that their ‘leadership will come to an end’, that the church will need ‘fresh ideas’ or that ‘their time was up’, but I wonder if that is a healthy idea.

What would it look like if we said ‘this is your gig and you stay with it – like marriage – till death us do part’?

As I reflect on my own marriage, there are things I have learnt after 25 years with the one woman that I never would have if I’d only given it 18 months or 5 years or even 10. There is a richness and a depth that can never be attained unless you have done the hard yards.

I wonder if we need to hang around a lot longer as pastors – if sometimes a ‘fresh call’ is a convenient escape route (maybe out of the frying pan and into the fire) from a new phase of learning and growth both for us and our churches?

Monogamy is accepted as standard (ideal) practice in marriage, but I have never heard anyone promote the idea of being mono-ecclesial, or if I have, its with the words ‘stale’ and ‘overstayed’ in the same sentence.

I don’t think that has to be the case at all. I am beginning to wonder if we sometimes miss out on the ‘real growth’ that takes place once we get past the niceties?

When church leadership is a profession, or a career then we will think of it in those terms, but if we retrieve some pre-20th C ideas and begin to think of church as a family then its harder to imagine dad doing a runner after 5 years because he’s given all he can give to the family…

Just some food for thought…

8 thoughts on “Mono-ecclesial

  1. My husband and I have been at our church for 18 years. Our entire adult lives. A few years ago, I sensed a call to pastoral ministry. I tested this in lots of ways and it seemed confirmed by leaders I respect and trust. But my church does not allow women to serve as elders, pastors or to preach sermons.

    A lot of people have asked me recently why I haven’t left yet. We’ve thought about it a lot but we do feel a sense of being strongly connected to that community, a great sense of loyalty to do all we can there, and to accept that I can pastor without being called Pastor. It’s a little bit humbling. But I do love the people, and I think I’d have to feel a very strong conviction that it was time to move before we made a move. I guess when you are called to minister you have to answer that call, and there might come a time in my church when being faithful to the call becomes impossible in that place. But I don’t feel like that time has come yet, and I’d be okay if it never came as long as I feel as though I am pursuing the call to minister to people and grow God’s church.

    I have also felt a great deal of support from leaders in my denomination who have invited me to preach in their church so that I had the chance to develop in that area. I am so thankful for them!

  2. 18 years is a great effort, especially when you have to navigate the challenge of being ‘gender impaired’ 🙂

    There is something really valuable about longevity that I would never have seen in my younger years.

    Who knows maybe one day your church will welcome women to use their gifts in those other ways

  3. I’ve heard similar sentiments in Eugene Peterson’s writing. He would probably concur with your mono-ecclesialism. 🙂

    “The pastoral itch to be “where the action is” should be resisted.”

    Did you read his memoir?

  4. I have a feeling that, rather than being like a marriage, it’s a place of calling.

    I’d absolutely agree that being faithful in the place you’ve been called, and not to get itchy feet, is really good and healthy. But there will be some who are called to relocate, to pioneer, to plant. Are they ‘leaving the wife of their youth’ or just being obedient when they might be a lot more comfy, possibly even happier, staying where they were?

    It might be interesting to explore the connection between churches and leaders who do get a calling to move out elsewhere, whether there were a biblical model and example for those sent out or released to work in other places and how they remain rooted. Would make a fun comparison with the concept of pastor as a career one progresses.

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