My sisters and brothers in the Methodist tradition (and elsewhere), if you do have to leave your denominational home, I hope that you keep your eyes and ears open for a God you or your tradition can’t hold on to: a God at the bottom of the slippery slope, in a field Rumi famously described as one beyond right doing and wrong doing.
One of the occupational hazards of getting paid to pray is that a minister’s clear sense of calling, those moments of clarity and lucidity about one’s life trajectory, can get commodified into a discussion about one’s fitness for a particular ministerial position.
As both a dad and a youth pastor (who moonlights as a therapist), I encourage you to stop “investing” in your children. It’s killing them, and as your general health care practitioner can attest, it’s not doing your blood pressure any favors either.
Autonomy breeds resiliency in kids and in their individual expressions of Christianity, especially when these kids are rooted in congregations brimming over with institutional warmth and opportunities for non-parental intergenerational relationships.
To commune together, even when there’s good reason for withdrawn civility and hostile incivility, seems a miraculously unlikely experience. Which is probably why the Church has spent the majority of its life protecting the metaphor of Communion instead of practicing its meaning.
Moments like these fill my chest with a kind of air I don’t normally breathe, air that isn’t stale, anxious, cynical and polarized.
When you want to study the overall health of a society, you don’t estimate the quality of life of people 50 and over; you ask if the kids are alright. And, historically speaking, America has never had more kids in poverty, more kids without access to healthcare, more kids chronically medicated, more kids with diagnosed mental health issues, more kids on semi-pro traveling soccer teams, more kids with student debt, more kids unemployed, more kids working unpaid internships, and more kids homeless, childless, and savings-less.
What if we sought to take an exhaustive accounting of everything we do as a faith community: from worship to potlucks to Sunday school socials, and asked, not “Does this bring ME joy?,” but something a bit more meaningful, even Christian.
For churches to survive it might mean (realizing that I say this as a white dude with too much education) finally coming to grips with the fact that white dudes with too much education have gotten us into the mess we’re currently enjoying as a Christian movement in America. Because of that, maybe the only way we can fix it is by handing the microphone to those who know what it’s like to be powerless, ignored, marginalized, poor, desperate, and searching for a “yes” in a sea of “no.”