Phantom strikes. That’s what some people call them, and appropriately so. They are the words from anonymous congregants, the furtive glances and side-eyes fueled by unchecked assumptions. There was a stretch of months a few years ago where these phantom strikes seemed to rain down. People were reacting to changes at our church—some related to worship practices, a few related to leadership. Phone calls and emails poured in. We met with as many people as we could, listened and explained, talked and prayed. But the phantom strikes kept coming. Those were the most difficult because we didn’t know who was saying what. Or why.
Pastoral ministry can hurt. We don’t always get it right. But instead of asking us our reasoning, many people make assumptions about our motives and attack what they presume to be our underlying theology. Pastors are expected to be astute theologians, insightful therapists, and intuitively brilliant leaders. But few of us match the idealized vision ...1