The Churchless Pastor is, well, Churchless

“What does ‘Churchless Pastor’ mean, exactly?”

The question has been asked of me several times. The question mostly stems from the fact that this churchless pastor has been, for the last year, churched. A year ago my wife, son and I packed up and moved to Muncie, Indiana, to take my first full-time pastorate. During that year, the idea of the “churchless pastor” was born. As of a week ago, it became a reality.

On June 1, 2012 we moved here, and on June 2, 2013 I preached my last sermon.

While I’ve been writing in this blog for months, I’m now officially churchless. Mallorie, Cade and I will be moving back to Louisville, KY (which always felt like home, even while we were in Indiana) and taking steps toward a slower less busy life.

So what happened?

The short answer is that we bit off more than we could chew. Many people have done great things while in grad school, and I’m not the first trying to tackle ministry and graduate school at the same time. However, the last 366 days have reinforced some truths that I have held for a long time but was not wise enough to listen to:

  1. Life is not supposed to be as high-octane as American culture has made it. We need time to think, time to talk, time to invest in relationships and time for God in our daily and weekly rhythms.
  2. My first and most important ministry is my family. Therefore life must be structured in a way that they are my first investment.
  3. I don’t know what “ministry” looks like for me yet.

School was not getting the attention it deserves, Mallorie felt she & Cade were getting the short end of the stick 5+ nights a week, and certain responsibilities at the church were not getting done. In short, a lot of people can manage that; I didn’t feel it was wise to keep trying.

So what is the “churchless pastor” about?

Here’s the deal: while a lot of people “get out of ministry” because of burnout, that’s not my deal. I’m not burnt out. In fact, even if I were, I believe whole-heartedly that we are disciples called to make disciples who make disciples. We are all in ministry, even when we “get out.” There’s a false dichotomy saying that you are either “in ministry” or a “volunteer/lay person/bystander” to ministry.

We’ve got to fight that false separation.

So I’ve left the church and am pursuing a passion. I want to equip those “volunteers/lay persons/bystanders” to engage in their faith. If that is you, YOU ARE A MINISTER! You are called to go make disciples, to live life abandoned to God. You are called to think about why you are a Christian, to read the word and see the AMAZING story that God is telling about you, me and everyone who has ever – or will ever – live. 

I have left a “church” so that I could be a pastor, but maybe a pastor without a “church.” A pastor whose church is a little more scattered, a pastor whose “church” is united despite being comprised of strangers.

Hence, I am a “churchless” pastor.

And I hope that the ideas I share here are, first of all, faithful to the Word, but second of all helpful. I am excited about this stage in life and the opportunity to write, and I am excited to share the discipleship journey with all of you.

Let’s jump in together!

-Nick

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