I feel strange. Tomorrow morning is the first Sunday since early July 1991 that I will wake up without feeling primary responsibility for a congregation.

This week I’ve taken up a new job, a non-pastoral job. I’m now part of the religion faculty at Wiley College, a United Methodist institution in Marshal, Texas. I’ve taken this position in response to a call from God back when I was in college. In fact, that last time when I awoke on a Sunday without responsibility for a congregation was when I had moved to California for my doctoral work, a primary step in preparation for the change I’ve made this week. Though my Texas Conference DS had told me he was good friends with the Cal-Pac Bishop, ensuring ease into a church position through which I could support my family while in school, the reality was that there simply were no openings. After a month of praying, searching, and relationship-building, I ended up connected with Fountain Valley United Methodist Church. My family and I were blessed to be there for the next four years.

In some of the years since then I have not been “Lead Pastor.” In Fountain Valley I was “Pastor of Youth and Education.” Later at Westbury UMC in Houston I was “Associate Pastor.” In theory I lacked “primary responsibility” in both cases. The buck didn’t stop with me. But I never thought that way. I was convinced the whole way – in both settings, and in the other places where I have had the title “lead pastor,” that what I do makes a primary difference, that I bear direct responsibility for the life and health of the congregation. Not sole responsibility – supposing that is a delusion even when I am “lead pastor.”

But now I am not a pastor. My responsibility for a congregation is completely undefined. I am responsible for students, and for how I lead, disciple and educate them. I am responsible for my relationships with my colleagues in that educational ministry. But I’m not responsible for a congregation. It feels mighty strange.

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3 Responses to Strange

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here. I’m excited that you have the opportunity to serve the Church through teaching, and am prayerful for your transition.

  2. Pingback: A few good links from around my world « everyday theology

  3. Carol Pagel says:

    What a blessing you will be for the college students you touch!

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