Quickly, let me answer a couple of questions.
If the rules have changed, why do we not anticipate the next set of rules and move on with it? Genius is ability to see up around the next bend without ever leaving the road. Few actually have this genius, fewer still possess the courage to use it.
I do know we (the Church) have a responsibility to minister with each age group. Churches that make things work will be multi-generational, multi-ethnic and, in all probability, concerned to do missions, theological education and pastoral care under the aegis of the local church rather than cede resources (and so authority) to a central body. The Traditionalists believe in a Headquarters because they came through the military structure. Moderns believe in the Corporate office because they came up through a business controls system. Millenials, who will one day soon have to carry the load, believe in Starbucks and wireless.
Do not ridicule Starbucks or wireless. I would be sitting in a Starbucks right now if the nearest one were not 55 miles from me. My new definition of "roughing it:" living more than six blocks away from a barista. I am writing this blog on a Dell Inspiron 700m in which I personally seated the wireless card.
Dell has always taken care of me and I can navigate PC software. You Apple guys with the secret handshake are a cult.
If you did not understand anything I just wrote, you are truly part of the real Left Behind generation. You did not sin, you just did not accelerate and the world sped by you.
In the next generation of churches, the central authority will continue its slide. We simply cannot afford them any longer and the millenials, who will have to get by on less, anyway, will not sacrifice for the nameless/faceless central powers.
We simply cannot afford them any longer (I already said that, but now I will explain the statement.).
The cost of central authorities is not just financial. It is mostly intellectual and, so, finally, spiritual. Let me explain, by using the example of the Southern Baptist Convention and the BGCT.
There are geniuses in the SBC. There are absolute geniuses in the BGCT. Randel Everett may be one of them. No matter. The call of a genius to other entities is useless if immoral, equally useless if amoral. The good thinker, or the thinker who is just good, will find he/she cannot forever afford the moral energy required to have a spot where he/she simply cannot fit.
This is the great cost of the central, governing body. Financial scandal is bad enough but you can always fire, arrest, retire or, as in the BGCT, promote, the cads and knaves. The loss of intellectual capital isthe greater loss. Geniuses are isolated, while mediocrities and outright thieves are lionized.
Understand, no one can keep genius from being genius. One can only penalize the genius in order to exalt the orthodox.
The genius must make his/her own way through life without support from the institutionalized central authority unless he/she is in ideological harness, fastened to the slow moving mule next to him/her, moving at a speed he/she cannot tolerate happily while heading in a direction he/she knows to be set but simplistic.
A pastor has it worse. He/she must harness himself/herself to the three generational metaphors previously mentioned in the space. He/she must match his gait to the speed of his tandem mates, drag the wagon and hold the road. All of this, while someone on the wagon hits him with a whip and throws rocks at him.
Naturally, the genius finds something else to do.
So, what is a nice pastor to do?
- Take a deep breath. In fact, take six deep breaths in the next minute. I am told we ought to breathe six times each minute, if we fill our lungs to capacity and so give our body what it needs. Practice your breathing. You will feel better and think more straightly.
- Answer this question, Pastor. Why do you do this? Don't answer yet. Get yourself a journal and a nice, heavy pen. Now, sit down with that journal and answer the question, "Why do you do this?" Be brutally honest with yourself. Write at length. Take up the same task tomorrow.
- Learn to answer this question: "How do you know?" Fill up a few pages of your journal with the answer to how you learn (you personally), how you remember (you personally) and how you know (you personally). I am a tactile learner; books. I remember what grabs me and don't worry much about what I miss. I know by questioning everything and dismissing, outright, the party line; so I am more an intuitive than an empiricist; Heraclitus over Hume.
- Go take a hike. That is, a walk. If you don't come back to the same spot, well, bully for you. You can get smarter, wiser and better. The only thing you really can't get is younger.
- Tomorrow, if we have time, we will talk about what to do with your experience, since it is killing you. Until then, get outside. It is a nice day and you really need the Vitamin D.