Kansas, was spent in the parsonage of the church that didn’t want me any more. Some where, some how, something went wrong and I was told I was done, 30 days to leave the house, no more no less. 30 miserable days.
I was lucky, I guess, because around that time I heard from the son of another Pastor that some years ago his family came back from vacation to find all their things in storage, the parsonage empty, and the term of service over. When a Pastor abuses a parishioner its front page news. When a church or its leaders abuse a Pastor, they just move on. It’s the price you pay, I guess, for letting people lay hands on you.
So I have more than an abstract understanding of what’s it’s like for clergy suddenly uprooted. I drove past that church for four Sundays on my way to somewhere else, packed everything we had in boxes and put that wretched little town in my tail lights. Never been back. Never wanted to. All I took from Lindsborg was a grateful wife and two fine cats.
Those wounds were deep, they still simmer up from time to time. Baptist churches can be wonderful places but when the herd starts stampeding in your direction you’re gonna get hit. The first time takes you by surprise, the second by anger, and usually there’s no third time because you’ve given up and prefer the tyranny of the corporate working world to the tyrannies of the church.
My world is so much different from those days in the early 90’s but Lindsborg, Kansas, come back some times. Save your money. Don’t put complete faith in anyone. If you want to stay come to the understanding that the church will wound you. Have an escape plan. If you can’t face that then you’re better off selling insurance, or doing just about anything else. The church can be the place where friends become enemies over night for no particular reason and the ones who laud you in the morning will ask for Barabbas at night. And when the axe falls, and some how, some way, it will it’s always harder because you’ve been lulled into expecting better from the church.
The truly amazing thing, though, is how God still finds a way to work even with all this garbage. It hurts like hell when the people you cared for or the leaders you trusted turn on you. The wounds will take years to heal. Yet somehow God finds a way. The pain of Lindsborg was the first step in my journey to Orthodoxy, and the decade I spent there one year made me sadder but wiser, wounded but more patient, broken but better in my craft. Even as it sometimes comes back to haunt me it was an important stop on the journey and somewhere I had to pass through to get to here.
Still I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone and prayers from my heart travel out to those who, even now, may be walking that same path.