Salus extra ecclesiam non est
We experienced a distinct letdown.
I also had some difficulty accepting the autocratic style of leadership.
We felt that we had been meeting for the sake of meeting.
I love Jesus, but I hate the church, or
Jesus I love you but I don’t understand your wife.
Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus – Outside the Church there is no salvation.
Someone recently asked me why I am a pastor. They said, “Why did you become a Pastor?” The easy answer to that is, “Because God called me to be one! Duh!” I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t think God had called me; at least that’s what I could tell people and get away with it. But this particular time, the question got me thinking, and I ended up looking back on my call, and on why it was that I think I said, “Yes,” and why, after 15 years working for different churches, I’m still here, and I can’t see any change of calling in the foreseeable future.
To help you understand my answer a little more, I’ll tell you a little of my story.
15 years ago I started my ministry by going to bible college (Bible College of New Zealand, now Laidlaw College – www.laidlaw.ac.nz) to do a Ministry Internship Diploma. Part of the requirement of that particular qualification was that I had to do 20 hours of supervised ministry every week, and to be honest, this was the kind of thing that I wanted – to jump right in and see what this whole ministry thing was all about. So, fresh out of High School, I jumped into youth ministry, because, as everyone knows, that is the stepping stone to becoming a real minister!
I worked at a small Anglican/Episcopalian church for a year, and then I was offered an internship at a large church, which was an amazing opportunity, so my wife and I, who had been married during that first year, moved there, and I was there for 10 years. It was an eye opening experience, and I did so many different jobs, and discovered a lot of passions and gifts that I didn’t know I had. I worked in youth, children, and young adult ministries, Sunday services planning, design and creative areas. It was a lot of fun, and I learned a ton about what it means to work in a church. But towards the end of our time there a lot of different issues came to light about the leadership structures and the lives of those in leadership. I guess my wife and I could identify with the second statement there – we experienced a distinct letdown. In a way we became disillusioned with our local church, and, because I was never at church growing up, this was the only church experience that I had, we became a little disillusioned with the church in general, and I seriously contemplated leaving ministry and starting to train for a new career.
I wouldn’t have been the only one of my colleagues to do that, one of them became a software developer, and another became a lawyer! But we decided, after much prayer, and dreaming of packing shelves in a supermarket, or being a courier driver – where else can you escape from politics better than to be alone in a car driving all day, listening to sermons, or AC/DC – that the call hadn’t changed and so we continued on, and here we are today.
So why are we still doing this thing? Let’s dig further into that in part 2