I’ve Been a Pastor for 7 Weeks Now...
I graduated seminary in May, I moved to another state in June, and I’ve been a pastor for 7 weeks now. I think the best way to sum this experience up is that it is everything that seminary told you it would be, and it is nothing that seminary told you it would be.
I have served communion, planned worship, wrote 7 sermons and preached 7 sermons (who’s counting?), learned a lot of names, participated in a lot of meetings and training sessions, built a website, presided over a funeral, and the list goes on and on. I think one of the biggest challenges with writing that list is that it feels like I’ve done a lot, but, at the same time, it doesn’t feel like I have done that much.
One things that seminary trained me to do was to think about the church’s place in the rapidly-changing and expansively-connected world of today. I came in as the pastor of two smaller churches, who both represent the norm of many churches today, and they are stuck trying to play catch up in a world that they only sort of know. In a lot of ways, I can’t blame them. For the majority of America, I would argue that the Church hasn’t fully figured out how to coexist with modern advances and reason and newer expressions of identity and belief. I came out of seminary with more questions than answers regarding this topic, and I’m extremely thankful for that. These questions are guiding my words, actions, and decisions in my new vocation, but, after 7 weeks, it still doesn’t feel like I’ve done a lot.
There’s a definite pressure and charge to work with these churches to be more apart of their missional contexts, but sometimes that feels like an expectation that things should already be moving in that direction. Change should already be visible in these congregations.
Maybe some of it comes from those overseeing me and maybe some of it comes from the anticipation and excitement that these churches have about a young pastor, but a lot of it also comes from myself. I truly want these churches to grow and reach their full potential to impact the communities, but it can’t come from me alone. I have to keep reminding myself that this work doesn’t happen overnight, and it only happens when we work together.
I have been a pastor for 7 weeks now. That’s it, 7 weeks. I can’t expect too much, because I need to be in the present. I need to be enjoying and learning from the new stories that come every single day. My 7 weeks with these churches don’t compare to the extensive history of their faith communities. I expect those questions from seminary as well as new questions and discoveries to continue as my guides in this post seminary life. I will always have more learning and growing to do.