As I mentioned previously, I knew that the ministry was not going well. They tell their side. I tell mine. But suffice it to say that they and I disagree about what are “key” church doctrines.
In the early part of 2010, I was still serving as minister. I was doing my best to explain myself, and why contextual Bible studies illuminate the Scriptures. The tension was high, but I kept up my pursuits and presentations.
In the early part of March, the elders met with me and informed me of the situation. But like I said previously, I saw the tension, it didn’t take a genius to see it. The meeting with them just made it official. Truth told, I didn’t need them to tell me what I already could see. But I didn’t know how things were going to unfold.
During the previous few years, I had been studying to the tension of why Matthew and Mark only mention one cup whereas Luke mentions two cups at the Lord’s Supper. Over that time, I researched the Lord’s Supper, the events of Passover, which led me to study the traditional Seder meal held during Passover.
In March 2010, while in Indiana, my family and I experienced our first Seder. We traveled about an hour to visit a congregation that was hosting the event. Primarily, we observed the Seder.
Interesting thing is that somewhere around that time, a Messianic Rabbi was invited to a cofc university and shared information about the Seder, where a video was made of his presentation. Importantly, while I was still the official pulpit minister, the elders approved of presenting that video to the congregation.
During those early months of that year, I was struggling with ministry. On May 28, 2010, I recorded in my journal the following:
An unfortunate truth was revealed to me after reading a… blog. He [participates] in a progressive cofc but was brought up conservative, yet is not a preacher and admitted that he has not ‘praught’ since high school.
The unfortunate truth is that he, as a member, a participant of the pew, has greater freedom to speak the truth than I as a preacher, a participant from the pulpit.
… Perhaps this holds true for proclamation. If so, then my future should be one without me being a pulpit minister.
The pulpit simply has to be ‘sensitive’ to so many views from the pew that it is humanly impossible to preach the truth without an eldership and deaconship and a membership that wants to be challenged with the truth [otherwise] there is no growth.
Now what is interesting to me, is that in July of that same year, even though I couldn’t see it at the time, Mary received two pieces of information that were truly insightful. She received the first insight on July 10, 2010. She had a dream about an engine going out on an airplane, each of us had on a parachute, we could tell what was going on, but we were not afraid.
She received the second insight on July 24, receiving what I can now describe as a foretelling of my departure. She received the number eight, and the word “out”. Looking back, while I was uncertain how it would unfold, it definitely becomes clear that we were told when I would be leaving. To those careful observers, including myself, my departure was not unexpected. But the congregation didn’t know and I didn’t know when the decision would be made.
Therefore, for Mary to receive a foretelling about when the decision would be made, indicates something. Those things, among others, are what led me to begin having a better attitude about Mary’s dreams. But I was still uncomfortable. Worst part is that when she gets something, it makes very little sense. Only after walking forward into time does some of what she dreamed make sense.
On Saturday August 7, 2010, before the elders met with me telling me of their decision, and weeks before the church was notified of the elders’ decision, I wrote the following in my journal:
Tired, but right now I am feeling down and wondering if I am really supposed to be a preacher/minister.
I wish I knew exactly what to do preach full-time or go back to secular work and part-time minister, or some variation of the two.
Following services Wednesday August 11, 2010, the elders met with me and officially asked for me to step out of the pulpit.
The very next Sunday, I delivered a sermon prepping the congregation for some difficult news. Oddly, one of the elders praised my sermon and told me he didn’t know how I could do what I did. Easy – a man of faith does what a spiritual man has to do, no matter how uncomfortable, because the spiritual lives of others matter. Following that lesson, the announcement was given about my departure.
The following day, I posted on Facebook the following note:
Dear FB Friends,
Some of my Facebook friends are aware of recent developments in my ministerial work. The current situation is delicate and some are understandably curious. However, I am, for the time being, refraining from relating anything about myself regarding this issue on Facebook; perhaps the future holds a different possibility and things might change regarding my comments on Facebook.
This note may create more questions, but as of now, I am not in a position to address them; I ask my FB friends to please respect this.
My heart and my prayers go out to all, please have patience in this situation.
May God’s grace, love, mercy and tenderness be with all of you.
From there some major developments happened. Some wanted to know why, there was even a congregational meeting to “discuss” the decision. But the decision was not truly open for debate, because the decision had been made, and there was no way the decision was going to be undecided. The result: a wake of turmoil.
There were those who truly liked how I was preaching. To add to the wake of turmoil, one elder actually stepped down and left the congregation because he believed the congregation made the wrong decision about me. In the days and weeks that followed, there were several who gave me their comfort and encouragement. Several were truly saddened and did not like the turn of events, and felt bad for me and my family.
It would be two long years before I would talk about those events. There was only one reason I waited so long to speak about the events, I decided that I believed it best to have the church “recover” from the turmoil before I continued the dialogue. In other places, I have written of the events and my reasons.
Following the “official” resignation, I remained with them while I looked for work. No ministry work arrived. However, a brother did offer me work, the occupational package that he offered was generous. But after prayer and talking with my family, I had to turn it down. I remained as long as permitted, which was three months while I looked for work. To the best of my ability, I ministered to those who had been hurt by the decision.
Interesting thing is, even in the wake of all this turmoil, I had been sparked to take a sabbatical.
For the previous six years, I had been studying voraciously. I determined, and I don’t recall exactly how that came to pass, that I would take a one-year sabbatical from Bible studies. I described it as an intellectual fast, and rested from Bible studies for one year, beginning about August 1, 2010.
About the time I began my sabbatical but before the elders met with me, I recorded the following thought in my journal:
If you are not wrong, then it is impossible to learn beyond what you already know.
On Tuesday August 24, 2010, I wrote the following in my journal:
While my life really is not upside down, I just wish I knew who to talk to, and where I was going. I don’t really feel hollow, but directionless. I have felt directionless for some time, I guess because I feel like I am in a holding pattern, just waiting for someone – God, Spirit, the actions of others – to point me in another -perhaps right- direction, perhaps even ‘force’ me into something.
On Saturday August 28, 2010, I wrote about a dream I had:
My father was propelled on a three-wheeled cart-contraption. It seems I was enthused by his contraption that was propelled forward by a propeller. I don’t know much more except that he crashed…
Blessings and Shalom