Sunday, November 29, 2009

Church Relations...Mine in Particular

It's really tough being clergy, not being the pastor, and being part of a congregation. I've been struggling with that...finding my niche in a church family...since leaving SJ a year and a half ago. We've actually been part of two congregations in that time. The first one has about 500 regular attendees, multiple pastors, and the senior pastor (a woman) will almost certainly become a bishop in the next 10-15 years. I liked it and so we joined last year (me as a clergy member, Harry as a full member). However, we began having some issues/concerns (lack of warmth and connection with the congregation, a feeling our gifts weren't needed, too far from home, that sort of thing) and began looking for another church.

Church #2 is about five miles or so from our home, has about 250 regular attendees, one pastor (but multiple staff members), and seems a little more kid-friendly (they have a Sunday School class for two-year-olds!). I'm currently "under the radar", in the sense that no one (even the pastor) knows that I am clergy...although I did tell the Sunday School class we attended today that I'm a chaplain, so they might put two and two together.

The thing is...I'm realizing how hard it is to find a church that will really be "home" and where Harry and I will find our respective ministry niches. What especially complicates things is our recent history and the feeling of being wounded by the institution itself. It takes time and investment (at least six months to a year) to really become a part of a church. I know that. But part of me wants instant gratification; to walk into a church and have 250 instant best friends who will love me and know me like they've known me for years. I know that's unrealistic, of course. It's just hard to take the risks and steps that I know are necessary to feel like a member of the family and not just a visitor.

I could write more, but I'm pooped and you're probably bored. By the way, Kentucky lost last night. It was pathetic and disappointing.

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