It all started, as it usually does, with something Daniel Kirk wrote, namely this:
Dear pastor, it is not enough to huddle with your buddies over beer or in your internet discussion room and talk about what a bunch of sexist bastards your fellow pastors are in your denomination.
If you are not working to change what women can do, you are promoting and sustaining the sexism that you deride in private.
If you are not opening up space in your church for women to preach and teach, you are promoting and sustaining the sexism that denies the truth of your women’s identity in Christ.
My liberal-friend-in-hiding Daniel wrote this in reply,
Don’t get me wrong. I agree with Dr. Kirk. This is an issue that needs action. But reading these rants as a pastor, and actually doing something about it, I get tired of the bully pulpit.
My own little ‘Roo wrote this,
Pastors are among the most bullied people of any vocation. Because our roles are undefined or ill-defined everyone and anyone thinks they have a right to tell the pastor what they should and shouldn’t be doing. This subtle form of bullying comes from all quarters (even other pastors)…
…But our job as pastors is to pastor not be activists. Whether it is this or any other issue
The Joker to my Robin, Brian LePort, writes,
What is odd about these two posts is they reinforce the very clergy-laity divide that I assume Thompson and Stevens disdain. These posts assume that pastors do the heavy lifting and someone who teaches in a seminary classroom has no idea what it is like to do ministry.
The downfall of Jim Wallis was when he forgot to be a pastor. We need pastors – but we do not need pastors cramming things down our throat. Now, is Kirk right? Yes, but only broadly so.
What gets me about LePort (LePort!!!!!!!) is that I’m not sure what posts he is actually reading. I don’t get that from the two pastors at all. Instead, their points of easily made – being a pastor is not an active thing, but a passive thing. Seminary professors and others are actively engaging everyone – because they are paid to do so. They are paid to, from time to time, cause a little controversy. Publish a book. Do something different. Oh boy. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that Seminary Professors are any less any important or somehow deceptive, but their mission and callings are different. While I do not dismiss his role as associate pastor or interim youth leader, they aren’t exactly the same thing as pastor. Indeed, Brian had someone between him and the door. The pastor rarely does not, even in an episcopal setting. Further, he was in San Francisco. Not exactly the same type of people there as in the rest of the world. Further, while class room teaching can indeed ministry, not all ministry is pastoral. Does the seminary professor have the same responsibilities to the student as a pastor does? No. They don’t have to answer to the person if by their actions, they destroy the faith of some and push them out, only to find them later in a gutter somewhere, without hope and without faith. Yes, that does happen in classrooms, but honestly, isn’t that the goal of the classroom? A little bit of deconstruction and pushing into the right direction? Teachers aren’t pastoral – and THEY SHOULD NOT BE – but they can minister. Pastors, on the other hand, must be pastoral.
You know, one the things that I think modern academia has destroyed for us is that seminaries are for pastors and ministers. They should be for nearly every church member, if possible, especially for those taking lay roles.
But, moving on…
One of the things about activism is that it causes enemies. It does, let’s be honest. It is difficult for me, if I’m on a picket line somewhere, to set the next Sunday morning with someone that I was lobbing bottles and road apples at the week before (um, metaphorically speaking, of course). Further, a pastor who is an activist will often times push people out – and they are usually the very people who need the change the post. Why make pastors choose between being pastoral and activist? Let them be pastoral.
So, here’s the thing. Pastors to be a good pastor cannot always be the speaker. A pastor is to guide and protect. Let one of the sheep step in and do some damage, rough some stuff up, unsettle someone’s Christianity (TM) (C) (R)… then let the pastor guide the congregation into making the right decisions.
Pastors do too much – let us, the ones in the pew, the lay leaders, lay ministers and others who do not have to provide care for those that we might dearly oppose – be a little pushy.