The place is full of pastors who are either exhausted, burnt out, frustrated, or missional. They all amount to the same thing: a simmering anger about the church.
For most pastors that anger is directed at stupid lay people, stubborn church boards, or indifferent church bureaucrats. But “the church,” and especially “the Western church” or “the American church” is the object of a myriad of derisive and sarcastic comments.
The anger is understandable. Pastors are an idealistic lot, having entered the ministry because they had the mistaken idea that they could make a difference in the world. And the church is standing in their way. I know. I was once a pastor. It’s the way this works. I had great ideas for ministering to the community and the world. And all sorts of church people, from laity to church bureaucrats, got in the way. What I could have done in a church without people!
What occurs to very few pastors–I only heard it from Will Willimon and Larry Osborne–is the difficult passion to love the church. To be sure, love can be tough. But love should also be tender.