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Frustrated With Church Ministry And Youth Ministers


estall
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I am a youth minister in South Carolina and although I love my job and what I do, I get so stinking frustrated with so many of my professional colleagues in youth ministry and annoyed with church members. Just because I am a person who embraces the ACLU, supports the free choice of women, do not think homosexuality is a sin, do not consider the opinions of the Apostle Paul binding, and beleive that grace is all encampassing - even to non-beleivers, does not make me a liberal non-christian. It also does not make me an innappropriate for church ministry.

 

I love the church but if another youth minister tells me that my views are misleading youth from the Bible and faith, I am going to go nuts. Do any of you feel my pain?

 

Ed

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Hi Ed:

 

If I havent already welcomed you to TCPC consider it now done. All I can advise you in your situation is to be true to your heart and its beliefs and try to ride out what's coming. IMHO we're at the beginning of some large and profound changes concerning Christian belief. And the future is the children that you teach.

 

Those who hold more orthodox and traditional beliefs than those who wish to respond and change with the changing world will be increasingly threatened and fearful of these transitions as they continue and build. That all this is happening before our eyes is not in doubt. How it will end up for our faith is still in doubt, but I would not let others dictate what you believe or teach about it.

 

Be as nice and brotherly to those who berate you for what you are and what you believe as possible. If that's not possible in some situations, just smile and walk away. Fighting about it all is a fruitless exercise since change will happen no matter what any of us does as individuals.

 

To fortify your beliefs you might wish to read some liberal thinkers to bolster your resolve. Spong ?

 

flow.... ;)

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Flow,

 

Thank you for the encouragement as well as the welcome. I had been welcomed awhile back but it is still wonderful to be welcomed again. You are right, and I was simply venting. Spong is wonderful and I am started to get into Dominic Crossan as well. I suppose what bothers me more than anything is that I have yet to find a community that exists for people who embrace liberal theology. I do agree with you though, it is only a matter of time when we do become the norm and not the theological exception.

 

Ed

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Oh yes, I feel your pain! It still makes me grimace to think of a neighbor asking me with great concern whether I was not a christian anymore when she found out that I didn't support Bush. :blink::angry: Then I tied myself in knots by trying to be fair about my lack of knowledge or need to judge his relationship with God. AARRGGHHH!!!!! Nonetheless, Flow is right. To follow Jesus, Radical Compassion is the way. Non-judging and non-pointproving among our calls! ;)

 

As we've discussed here before, our openness to allowing people their beliefs causes "us" as liberals and progressives to be quieter rather than to confront people for their "wrong beliefs". It makes it seem like there are less openminded people because we don't speak up. It's a tough one. Speaking up carefully and with that same radical compassion and respect for the others may be the way. Kudos to Jim Wallis and Brian McLaren for showing us the way to do exactly that.

 

Hang in there - you're not alone!

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estall,

 

Too bad you can't lead the youth at my church! It's difficult to find progressive youth directors (my church is a TCPC affiliate UMC church).

 

Oh yes, I feel your pain! It still makes me grimace to think of a neighbor asking me with great concern whether I was not a christian anymore when she found out that I didn't support Bush.

 

I can't believe someone had the nerve (or ignorance) to say that you, Cynthia. Maybe it's just the 3rd cup of coffee speaking, but this really chaps my hide! (compassionate thoughts, compassionate thoughts, compassionate thoughts, Cynthia's neighbor is a moron, compassionate thoughts, compassionate...)

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ROFL Fatherman! I appreciate your understanding more than I can express. Anyway, she's since moved... but plenty to replace her!!! I have been encouraged by the rather sudden drop in "W" bumper stickers.... in our christian, compassionate way ( ;) ) we have taken to referring to those still sporting them as "W-tards". :P

 

Yeah... glass houses.... I know!!!!!

 

I wish you could come be a youth minister at my church too estall!

Edited by Cynthia
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You guys are great. I would love the opportunity to minister in a progressive church and work with a pastor who is also progressive. As it stands, I am at a church with some very progressive people (it is a UMC church as well) who are oftened silenced or ignored because of their liberal label. They are often referred to as "trouble makers" and "control freaks" and although some of it is justified, most of it is not. I found it funny that when I first started here (only 6 months ago and it feels like forever!) a very nice member came up to me and told me that this liberal group doesn't beleive in Jesus and to be fearful of them! It turns out that these are the people I love the most. Ironic isn't it? It is also funny that these are the people who volunteer and give to the youth program abundantly. And although some of them are more "assertive" than what I am comfortable with, I find them to be wonderful people. Funny thing, I saw one of them at an ACLU meeting not too long ago and we were both surprised to see each other. Good stuff. Anyway, here is what I am finding, these people desperately love the church but desperately hate the theology and are having to comprimise their thoughts to the more vocally conservative community. It seems that the term "liberal" or "progressive"is used as a trump card for justifying silencing or ignoring others. I have been here a short time and been in ministry a relatively short time (7 years of full time ministry) and wonder how these people have taken it their whole lives and keep coming back? I at least get paid! Okay, I'm ranting again. I am just thrilled to have found this place for me to vent with folks who are more likeminded. I am also part of a message board for Youth Ministers and I am not affirmed very often by them.

 

Ed

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Ed keep on trucking. Certainly no creaky institution can evolve if all of its leavening leaves it. On other hand, there are many reasons why I'm not drawn to a church and this sort of theological difference is 1 of the reasons. Cannot relate to what is typically preached in churches. Though am also more contemplative, so even with a progressive theology, I also don't tend to relate to typical church services in general. Do often miss the community aspect that goes with a church however. Best wishes, earl

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Ed...sounds to me like you might be where you are most needed. Don't burn out on the rusty wheels. Move ahead on the well oiled ones. Like Earl, Hi Earl !, I'm not affiliated with any church these days , but I spent most of my prior life in liberal UCC Congregations, until I hit a couple that weren't so accepting, and I left involuntarily.

As my cyberbuddy Cynthia said...hang in there! The kids need your viewpoint to get to the future. They just don't realize it yet. ACLU... how revolutionary ! I love it !

 

flow.... :)

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Friends,

 

Thank you for your encouragement and kind words. I will "keep truck'in" and do all i can to minister to the young people who are in my care.

 

Ed

 

Hi Ed,

 

There are a couple of books that you may want to recommend to your friends. They are

 

Androgyny - The Opposites Within by June Singer and Homophobia - A History by Byrne Fone. Both books will open their eyes about the nature of sexuality and expose some of the ignorance that has transpired from badly translated evangelical versions of the Biblical Old Testament of the Bible. Much of what Paul says in the New Testament is forged by later authors based on a misinterpretation of what the Old Testament allegedly says. If you read Elaine Pagels, you can see that Paul is clearly Gnostic. We also have to remember that current evangelical translations of the Bible come from meanings assigned to Hebrew and Aramaic words during medieval times. Having studied Hebrew, I know that some of these meanings are grossly inaccurate. One particular area is on sexuality. Evangelical scholars have taken the high road to sexual morality adopting a very narrow view about angrogyny. As a result, they have developoed hightly distorted interpretations of the wording. What you read about sexuality in the Old Testament is not what the original Hebrew version says. It is going to take a long time to unwind the mess that evangelical translations have produced about sexualiy. I am working on three books that I hope will result in changes about what the Bible actually says. I haven't found a publisher yet, but I will keep trying and trying. I know what it is like to battle against mindless idolization of Biblical passages. There are even those who think that the Bible was originally written in English. My prayers go with you.

 

BobD

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  • 2 weeks later...
I am a youth minister in South Carolina and although I love my job and what I do, I get so stinking frustrated with so many of my professional colleagues in youth ministry and annoyed with church members. Just because I am a person who embraces the ACLU, supports the free choice of women, do not think homosexuality is a sin, do not consider the opinions of the Apostle Paul binding, and beleive that grace is all encampassing - even to non-beleivers, does not make me a liberal non-christian. It also does not make me an innappropriate for church ministry.

 

I love the church but if another youth minister tells me that my views are misleading youth from the Bible and faith, I am going to go nuts. Do any of you feel my pain?

 

Ed

 

I totally admire you for your ministry in the midst of some pretty tough opposition. I think it is important to remember that the principalities and powers are the real problem and not all those misguided fellow Christians. Walter Wink makes that very clear in his amazing and thorough biblical scholarship. We have been struggling with the Principalities and Powers inside and outside of the church throughout history and I am sure it will continue to be a struggle. Forgive them 70 times 7. Be humble. Be gentle. Be kind. Be patient. Breathe deeply. Breathe fully. Be Centered. Be Grounded. Let go and let God. Celebrate. Enjoy. Be glad all over.

 

I am sure your ministry with youth is very helpful. Youth and all of us need to wrestle with the questions and not rush to simple answers.

Edited by mystictrek
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