A letter from a pastor; permission granted to publish here; we are seeking your wisdom..
Hello. We met when you visited the area and I have appreciated your blog for a while now. I came to this church as pastor just over a year ago and it is my first church after graduating from seminary. I have moved in somewhat of a short time from being quite conservative to relatively progressive if your standard is the evangelical world. Anyway the church I am serving has some variety but I basically feel like they are pretty conservative theologically and in practice.
Basically I have come to be very much focused on the Kingdom of God and have tried to be about more than just “life after death”, while I think my leaders are more in the modern-liberal vs. conservative belief. I know they have good hearts and I can understand them in some ways since I was there not too long ago. In the last year I have tried to preach mainly out of the Gospels and focus on the life we are to live now and how we start our eternal life now.
Another point: I have become somewhat disenchanted with the value of the sermon since it doesn’t seem to get anymore response then a few “that was a good sermon” statements.
I have started a small group/team that I have tried to educate in the Missional Church ideas and they seem to really like them but I have two main problems. First: I feel like the church wants to grow but I’m afraid if we set vision/goals/strategy now it would be focused either to inward or just about getting younger people coming to our services, and of course to get them “saved”, plus the people involved with the planning process might be unwilling to think in different ways.
My second problem is that I feel like my leaders’ ideas for discipleship is mostly focused on education and getting people to Sunday School. Learning is great but I know I have failed to put my learning into practice and can see that happening here too. One illustration is that there are key leaders who would like the church to offer the “Truth Project” series from Focus on the Family. I haven’t seen it all but it seems like it basically is the old standard systematic education that fights against all that ‘evil postmodernism’ and evolution and so forth. I’m going to have to give my input on what I think about doing the series and I’m afraid what the response will be when I say it is not the most helpful way to lead people into discipleship.
This was what finally spurred this letter in the hope you might have some advice on how to handle the balance between understanding views of the faith that aren’t all bad or even wrong but may not be the most useful in our current times and trying to lead the church into a more robust faith as you might say. I feel like I’m learning so much so quickly too that I feel like I would be unable to explain my views in a way that wouldn’t get me into hot theological water.
Thanks for all your ministry