Ministry in the Marketplace

When I entered seminary, I swore I would never be a pastor.
Swore.
Up-down.
Left-right.
Back-forth.
Me? Pastor?
It was like a four-letter word to me.

And here I am.
A Pastor.
And yet…not.

I think what I pushed against in seminary
or what I struggled to articulate was the kind of pastor I felt called to be.
Or rather whom I felt called to pastor.
Fairly early in my seminary career, I could say, these people. These people that are outside of church. The ones that don’t know what they believe. Don’t think religion is for them. These are my people.

In theological circles these people are known as the Spiritual But Not Religious Community AKA the “NONES.” Much has been written about the blessings and curses ofthese people. Much of this conversation fascinated me, intrigued me, and even hooked me in seminary and early in ministry. Today I find myself wanting to let that piece go. To leave that argument for sociologists, anthropologists, apologists.

The whys and what-nots don’t seem as important to me as my call to meet people–specifically those outside the walls of traditional religion–where they are and to sojourn with them through the passage of life. This has led me to an odd calling. I find myself in the “business” of weddings and funerals. As I type this I can almost hear the collective gasp from clergy–Business!? Weddings!? ICK!

Don’t you know the capitalism, nationalism, fill in the -ism that is part of this? Aren’t you selling out?

Honestly, I “get” that response. I’ve wrestled with it myself…I continue to.

But at the end of the day, my call is to be in the marketplace. To meet people who are “outside” where they are. Right now this means not fitting-in in any world. I don’t fit in with those outside the tradition because I hold so much of the Church dear. But I don’t fit within the walls because I just don’t feel called or fit in a traditional pastorate. I respect too much the good work that needs to happen within the walls. I know it is good work. Faith-filled work. Honest work. But my heart just is not “in it.” I guess as much as I shy from the term, I find myself called to be an Evangelist. An Evangelist proclaiming the Good News that death is not the end; that wisdom may look foolish to conventional standards; that true power and freedom come from a source that cannot be controlled, sold, or branded by any system. And at the end of the day, that God is present. And ultimately, God doesn’t care about labels or titles, or buildings. But will use any means or method to reach people. I pray that I might be part of this process.

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