I had my weekly breakfast with my friend Tom this morning and it got me thinking about something. Tom pastor's a church, but also serves as a cohort leader within his tribe. That means he not only meets with several other church leaders (pastors) on a regular basis, but he also has an interest in their churches. When there are issues, he meets with the board and listens to all sides and tries to get them to work together. At the same time he feels a responsibility to pastors who have stepped down or been asked to step down from churches. I find his approach so refreshing and life-giving. It's nice to know there actually are people out there who really do care about the "body" of Christ.
So he talked for a bit wondering how he could better connect with church boards in his cohort circle without making the pastors feel threatened. He also mentioned getting churches, and pastors, involved in their "recovery/reconciliation" process. That's what piqued my interest. So I began to ask him about it.
I've been trying to guard against negative thoughts and talk lately and really don't want to bash the people in leadership within my particular region of our denomination, but the truth is, we really stink at things like this. Honestly I'm not sure if it's because we don't have any processes, or if it boils down to the people responsible for carrying them out simply aren't very good at it. Or, I suppose it's possible it's just that my expectations are too high.
Personally, I feel that once I was asked to resign from my previous church, there was no one within my region who felt any responsibility towards anyone. The person that I thought should, seemed to stick his head in the sand. He wouldn't respond to me, he only passively met with the church leaders to satisfy my request, and he has done little to nothing in the years since. My last attempt at correspondence - which was a direct question - remains unanswered.
I have talked to others in similar situations who have left churches, or ministry entirely, and have felt equally abandoned. So it kind of got me thinking about this unassigned ministers group.
I have no idea what it would look like, what it might be called, or how it would operate, but it just seems to me someone ought to give a shit about pastors/ministers who have either failed, been driven out, or for some other reason are no longer serving and feel abandoned by the tribe they once called their own. So this is just an initial jotting-down-of-the-idea in hopes I can think through this some more.
Some things I'm thinking:
- I don't want it to be anything official, but I can think of several former pastors right here in my area, and maybe we could just get together somewhere and see what happens. Or, maybe it could be a skype group??
- I don't want it to be a "bitch session" or a time to put others down, but rather a way for us to try to help one another up.
- I probably shouldn't assume that everyone is in need of recovery, but it seems to me most people probably do to some extent. I know I could use some help.
- I should check our regional directory and see just how many are listed there as "unassigned."
- I need to do some research on recovery groups - even pastoral recovery groups. I have no idea what resources there may already be.
[I just ordered the book "The First Step to Celebrate Recovery"]