Having made hard choices to leave ministries over the years, I have so many thoughts right now. I know many of you are asking Qs about your own church contexts.

One thing I've learned is that faithfulness isn't just about place. It's about obeying the call of God.
When he says, "Go" & you better go. When he says, "Stay" & you better stay.
The Scripture is full of examples of God calling people to leave broken spaces & calling them to remain in broken spaces. There are models for faithfully fulfilling both callings. The key is responding to GOD, not simply your context.
This is harder than it sound. I've overstayed in places I should have exited. I've also had to exercise patience to remain in places I wanted to leave, waiting until God called me away.
This was made all the more difficult by growing up in a tradition that taught guilt by association. To be righteous, I was taught I had to be in the "right" space. The right church, the right school, the right party. If I wasn't, I was to blame.
So on top of trying to discern the voice of God, I also had to relearn what personal responsibility looked like. What am I responsible for in my context? What am I not? Where does perseverance end & complicity begin? (There is a point even if it's different for each.)
And on top of THAT, I had an overrealized sense of agency & personal choice. After all, if I was responsible for the brokenness of my context, then it was also w/in my grasp to simply *choose* a different one.
All that to say, these Qs are not simply a matter of choice. It's not simply about what you think you should/shouldn't do. Or what other people think you should/shouldn't do. It's about the specific work that God is calling you to. It's about obedience.
This should give us the ability to extend great freedom & grace to each other knowing that God is the one who calls us to go or stay. It should also teach us to tune our ears to his leading above all else.
And don't worry, he will call. He will make the path plain. It will probably be harder than you think you can walk & it may not make sense to others--or even yourself! But the point is to learn to follow wherever he leads.
Also, b/c it needs to be stated explicitly:

Part of the call of God on your life is caring for your own soul & the souls of those entrusted to you. One of the ways we've discerned it was time to leave a context was by assessing the state of our own hearts.
Insofar as we were spiritually struggling, deadened inside, increasingly lost & hopeless, it was an important signpost that it was time to leave. This is different than simply facing challenges of a broken context. This was spiritual death.
And too many folks minimized that for us, trying to normalize it: "This is just what ministry is like. You need a thicker skin!"

Church life can be hard, but it shouldn't be vampiric.
So, pay attention to the state of your heart, not simply the challenges of your context. Get the help you need & don't mistake spiritual & emotional collapse for endurance.

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More from @sometimesalight

10 Mar
An interesting idea in @AJWTheology's latest blog: American cultural power is reflected in our ability to make ourselves & our issues the plumb line for global conversations.
IOW, the unique shape of US culture wars gets exported. It's not that other countries don't have similar issues (e.g. racial inequity) but that the shape of US racism becomes dominant metric for evaluating justice work in other places.
The risk of this is that other forms of racism & injustice might be overlooked insofar as they don't align with US-centric definitions. But the point is larger than this
Read 8 tweets
9 Mar
All I have to say is that Beth Moore is a much kinder, wiser person than I am. When I find that people or structures are at odds with me, my first instinct is to make them suffer my presence.
Can I get a witness, @n_d_anderson? 🤣
True confession: Half of my ability to persevere in difficult relationships & ministry placements is pure spite.
Read 6 tweets
9 Mar
A few quibbles, but this is helpful grid to understanding how different facets of (conservative) evangelicalism respond to cultural challenges. Still, it's essential to recognize that each is a *response.* What would it look like for the church to lead in cultural formation?
Obviously, this includes rightly assessing

1) where we are
2) where we need to be and
3) ethical ways to get there.

But I wonder if the biggest cultural challenge evangelicals face is simply a failure of imagination.
A significant part of the division we face is b/c the questions themselves are unresolvable w/in modern, contemporary paradigms. We are at an impasse, a dead end, not simply b/c we don't understand each other but b/c our resources & imagination are limited.
Read 13 tweets
4 Mar
Rt. 40 runs thru my home county in PA & is called the National Road b/c by some definitions, it's the oldest highway in the US, built to facilitate trade & travel w/ the frontier. About 30 minutes from my parents' home, it runs thru a small mountain community called Farmington.
Today, on one side of Rt. 40, you will find New Meadow Run, a community of the Bruderhof, an intentional Christian community of shared work, fellowship, life, & faith.
Opposite New Meadow Run, immediately on the other side of the road, you will find Nemicolan Woodlands, an uber-lux "playground" of the rich that includes hotels, a spa, casino, golf course, & polo fields.
Read 5 tweets
26 Feb
I'll always advocate for knowing one's God-given limits, learning to say no, honoring the needs of body & spirit, but I'm increasingly convinced that self-care is a frame of radical individualism & can never replace community's responsibility to care for each member.
In this sense, self-care is a coping mechanism that happens when communities collapse. It's a necessary, but poor, substitute for the care we should receive from others.
Read 17 tweets
23 Feb
Reading this from @jdgreear while watching others fully commit to the posture he's calling out, I had a thought:

IME the folks spending the least amount of time preaching the gospel are those spending their time policing whether others "just preach the gospel."
The irony of the "just preach the gospel" stance is how very much time they spend talking about everything else.
Read 9 tweets

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