I don't fit in ministry

I don’t fit in ministry

Today a friend of mind asked me how I thought my internship was going. Usually my first response is: “I’m glad it’s almost over.” Here are some of the reasons why I found working in modern evangelical ministry difficult.

1) There is often so much work to do there isn’t enough time to keep strong relationships. As a teacher I found myself too busy correcting assignments and preparing the next lesson to really connect with people. Ministry easily becomes a commodity for consumption.

2) Those who lead Christian institutions often have a narrow focus. They believe that by promoting and building their ministry they are by default building the kingdom of God. It is rare that an institution looks at the needs of the kingdom and responds accordingly.

3) Many institutions are still convinced the definition of ministry success is more people and larger facilities. It seems the number 1 core value of an established ministry is survival. I believe in smaller more fragile ministries that are self-replicating.

4) Those in ministry have to live up to such high expectations that they often suffer from isolation and loneliness. Struggling leaders are caught between the necessity of help and the shame associated with failure.

5) Denominations. There will always be theological diversity because we are all shaped by our environment. I don’t understand how people can be so sure of their interpretation of scripture that they would exclude people who believe differently on minor issues.

6) The temptation of ministry success. It drives me nuts when I catch myself shielding my true thoughts about something because I’m afraid it might hurt my reputation or career. I feel the pressure to conform.

7) Lack of risk or innovation. It is more common to follow what the other ministries are doing and copy it after putting a distinctive spin on it.

8) The leaders are convinced that they have the vision and their job is slowly to bring everyone on board. Often the tactics used border on manipulation. Politics can be a very dirty game.

9) I’m an egalitarian. The church follows a ministry model that disempowers people through suppression of dialogue. People don’t get the opportunity to talk to each other in a meaningful way and that limits what they can do. The world of academics creates tiers of rank and status.

10) The cost of sustaining high profile programs and facilities is too high.

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