Guest / Limited Access /
The Despair of Dead Ends

As we sat down for lunch, my bishop got right to the point: "You should definitely be pastoring: You preach the Word, you give good pastoral care, and your congregation respects you as a spiritual leader. But you don't belong with us. You should try to find a denomination that's a better fit."

With these words, my work in a small Anabaptist denomination headed toward its close. During the following months, I sought pastoral opportunities, first within the same denomination, and then anywhere that looked remotely possible. It all came to nothing, so we moved out of the parsonage and went to live with extended family. I was unemployed for a year, even though I continued applying for jobs and sending resumes to churches. The following spring, my oldest son was nearly killed in a mountain biking accident, and two months later, a close friend died suddenly and unexpectedly.

Today, more than seven years after that meeting with the bishop, I am still not pastoring.

My spiritual director, a Norbertine Priest, diagnosed the problem as impasse and gave me an article by Constance Fitzgerald on the subject.

By impasse, I mean that there is no way out of, no way around, no rational escape from, what imprisons one, no possibilities in the situation. In a true impasse, every normal manner of acting is brought to a standstill, and ironically, impasse is experienced not only in the problem itself but also in any solution rationally attempted. Every logical solution remains unsatisfying, at the very least. The whole life situation suffers a depletion, has the word limits written upon it….

This has been my relationship with the church for the past seven years—no way out of, no way around a sense ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Current IssueA Critical Care Surgeon Meets the Great Physician
A Critical Care Surgeon Meets the Great Physician
I felt distant from God until I witnessed a medical miracle.
Recommended‘The Young Pope’ Takes an Anxious Look at the Danger of Doubt
‘The Young Pope’ Takes an Anxious Look at the Danger of Doubt
HBO's unsettling Vatican satire asks what happens when spiritual leaders shirk their own faith.
TrendingAll 240 Family Christian Stores Are Closing
All 240 Family Christian Stores Are Closing
More than 3,000 employees in 36 states will be laid off in the liquidation of one of the world’s largest Christian retailers.
Editor's PickMy Missionary Great-Grandfather Led Me to Christ
My Missionary Great-Grandfather Led Me to Christ
But only after I went to Japan in search of his life story.
Christianity Today
The Despair of Dead Ends
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

May 2013

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.