Friday, November 2, 2012

Faith Is a Kind of Insanity

As I've mentioned, my new church is very tiny. Someone in an advisory capacity expressed to me she was afraid I might have a hard time building the church up because going out into the community and meeting people will not be the easiest thing for me. She was thinking I ought to be going to coffee shops and malls and local sporting events and anywhere people gather--and I can only assume she thought I should be randomly introducing myself to strangers and inviting them to the church.

Even though I knew from the beginning that that method is just not very sensible, I have been nagged by a vague feeling that she's right, I'm not cut out for this kind of work, because I am generally reserved and not really the gregarious, assertive, salesperson type.

But this is where the insanity comes in. It's a particular kind of insanity necessary to being a pastor (long term, that is)--and it's also called the gift of faith. I don't have any rational basis for thinking this, but I do believe that if an outgoing extrovert who instantly makes millions of friends was what this church needed, then that's who God would have called here. But since God called me, clearly what is needed is a sensitive poet-theologian type. 

This kind of thinking is irrational. And many would also consider it crazy to move all the way across the country to lead a community of six people--and not immediately begin preparations for selling the building and dissolving the congregation.

But that's what makes ministry--and all of life--interesting: people do not act rationally, and so there is no way of predicting how anything that involves people will turn out. And however much "science" can predict, it does not even begin to explain human experience. 

Atheists may believe "science" has emptied the world of so many figments of imagination--spirits and fairies, ghosts and psychics, saints and bodhisattvas and God--but such poverty of perception is only an intermediate stage on the way to a more enlightened awareness--there are forces at work in the world that we have not explained--perhaps someday we will, but if we do, it will probably be an explanation that goes far beyond even the current theories of quantum mechanics. Perhaps it will require a leap in conceptualization as great as that needed to leave behind a strictly Newtonian worldview. 

But for now, there is no "scientific" explanation of the spiritual--and so it is that for people like me, for whom spiritual realities are at the center of (or should be at the center of) our work, a certain kind of faith-insanity is necessary. 

I will state the obvious here (which very few people seem to want to do) and say that the situation is dire and bleak. There are many things to be discouraged or worried or even angry about. But with God, all things are possible, and all things are guided to their proper purpose. And this church, small as it is, is definitely alive with love and hope--no, not at all dead yet. So here I am, faithfully insane, doing my best to lead them, and waiting to find out just what kind of miracle will unfold this time ... 

1 comment:

Peter said...

Are you still considering my plan to flip the church after you put a little bit more sweat equity into it? You can use the profits to buy a better starter church.