Two Pastors, a Chaplain and a Bar

By: Linda Kay Klein
July 24, 2017

When even some of our pastors don’t want to go to church, it’s time for us to reassess our approach to Christian community.

“Now that my kids are adults, they aren’t interested in going to church anymore, even if I am the pastor,” the woman lamented, looking down at her plate. The other women sharing our small lunch table—a college chaplain and another pastor—frowned in sympathy.

“Honestly,” I ventured then, leaning toward the first pastor, “I think I get where your kids are coming from.”

She raised her head and looked at me. “I mean, I pray through every day and attend all kinds of independent religious gatherings like this one,” I said referring to the Forum for Theological Exploration’s (FTE) 2017 Christian Leadership Forum. “In New York City where I live, I’m just about the most religious person in town!” I joked. The table laughed. “But I don’t go to church very often,” I admitted. “I just…don’t get a lot out of most services.”

“The college kids I work with say the same thing,” the chaplain expressed.

There was a long pause.

Then, “To tell you the truth,” the other pastor hazarded, “most of the time, I don’t want to go to church. And I run the thing…”

The pastor who had begun the conversation laughed. “Yeah,” she said. “Neither do I!”

As the only person at the table not in professional religious leadership that day, their admissions floored me.

“What would make you want to go to church?” I asked with astonishment.

“If we could have the kind of deep, meaningful conversations there that we’re having here,” one said.

“Right,” the other agreed. “Like, I want to run my church out of a bar sometimes. Some place without all the baggage where we could really get real.”

When even some of our pastors don’t want to go to church, it’s time for us to reassess our approach to Christian community.

“I know someone who started a church in a bar,” I said to the pastor that day. “I’d be happy to connect you.”

“I’d love that,” she replied. “If I actually started a service there, who knows?” she shrugged. “Maybe my kids would even come!”

As I sat talking with these women over lunch, it felt fitting to me that FTE had launched DO GOOD X—an initiative that convenes, connects and empowers Christian social entrepreneurs—that very morning. DO GOOD X catalyzes diverse innovators to launch impact ventures that address our world’s greatest problems. Their ventures will include new ways to do church, community, and ministry.

But Innovation isn’t just happening among Christian social entrepreneurs. It’s happening among pastors, laypeople, seminary students, and more. Because—as demonstrated by my lunch conversation—if Christianity is going to continue to thrive, it has to.

Tags...: Innovation in Ministry, Thinking Out Loud

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