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Stepping Off the Trendmill

I entered pastoral ministry in a time of great transition for the institutional church (the early sixties).

In the eyes of many, the church had reached a low. "Relevance" was the buzz word, and the church, as well as preachers in general, were said to be irrelevant, perhaps obsolete. As a result, a heavy percentage of my seminary classmates were headed for missions, parachurch works, the chaplaincy, and a new discipline called counseling. Only a few of us really believed there could be a future in the pastorate.

My recollections are probably faulty, but as a new pastor, it seemed that every week someone from some new organization blew into town with a new program to sell me.

The opening pitch rarely varied: the church was dying, pastors were desperate, and here is a program (anointed by God) to save it all. Somewhere in the country (usually California) was a church that had adapted the program and was now growing by the "thousands" (count 'em).

I always found myself feeling guilty ...

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