a pastor who wants to just stop

one of you cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward

“One of You” (drawing by nakedpastor David Hayward)

(Purchase a print of this cartoon, One of You.)

Sometimes I feel the need to do a cartoon such as this one to show that I do not hate the church or despise pastors and congregations. I have an inexplicable love for the church, an abiding respect for the pastoral ministry, and an affectionate concern for members of a church.

Some mistake my analysis of the church as disdain for it. Some mistake my critique of the pitfalls of pastoral ministry as a disgust for it. Some mistake my commentary on community as a ridicule of it.

For those who read me carefully, I hope they understand my critique betrays an actual love for the church and all involved in it and with it.

I’ve seen and experienced church when it works. I’ve also seen and experienced church when it doesn’t. It is powerful when it works. It is inhumanely damaging when it doesn’t.

It is like the splitting of the atom. In the right hands it can deliver amazing benefits. In the wrong hands it can wreak a destruction both global and personal that can take generations to reverse.

Here is a pastor and a congregation, a collective, a community, who has begun to figure things out.

And I wish them well.

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About David Hayward

David Hayward runs the blog nakedpastor as a graffiti artist on the walls of religion where he critiques religion… specifically Christianity and the church. He also runs the online community The Lasting Supper where people can help themselves discover, explore and live in spiritual freedom.

  • Pat68

    There are some pastors who feel this way and even have people in their congregations like those depicted in the cartoon. Unfortunately, they usually get overrided by church bullies who demand that things be done the way they want them. In their mind, it’s a pastor as an authority figure, preaching and teaching all the right things and maintaining the status quo. I think all too often there are pastors just putting in their time or those who eventually leave the system altogether. We’ve gotta stop letting the bullies win and get their way.

  • http://nakedpastor.com/ nakedpastor

    I agree so much with that Pat68

  • Charles Payet

    David, If I’d had a pastor like you back when I was still a Christian, maybe I’d still be one. Impossible to know for sure, of course, but you are so inspirational, so practical, so “real” (although I hate using that, it’s so cliche)….still, while I am no longer Christian (or of any particular faith tradition), I truly enjoy reading your blog and cartoons. Just want to say THANK YOU for being a Christian who demonstrates what I always have felt to be the true meaning of Jesus’ message.

  • Doug

    I love this. How many of us pastors can really be this honest with our congregations?

  • http://nakedpastor.com/ nakedpastor

    Thanks Charles for sharing your encouraging words with me. Made my day :)

  • http://triangulations.wordpress.com/ Sabio Lantz

    Unfortunately, people are hungry for certainty. With that market, people will unconsciously (or consciously) retool themselves to provide the service.

    I am in medicine. Patients are largely drawn to physicians who are pretty confident, enthusiastic and charismatic about the treatments they are offering. Patients don’t like their provider sharing his/her uncertainty — some patients do, of course, but my experience and those of many other providers is that what sells best is the former. That is because most people want to be led, want to feel safe and secure and right. People want certainty and are willing to sacrifice much (intellect, integrity …) to get it.

    When pastors show their doubts (just like medical providers), their customers will leave. You have seen that first hand. Finding a new flock of doubters is always possible, but the flock will necessarily be smaller — such is the distribution curve in human populations.

    David, I feel you do have disgust for many churching methods, many pastoral methods. I do think you hate much about Christianity and its various Churches.

    And I think such hate and disgust is appropriate.

    And I never think it is generalized. I don think you hate Christianity at all — in fact you still partially consider yourself a Christian. I don’t think you are generally disgusted with all churches — in fact, through Lasting Supper you are again running your own sort of Church with doubters and not those clamoring for certainty.

    I’m OK with your complexity — it is what makes you so fascinating !!

  • http://nakedpastor.com/ nakedpastor

    i agree with your theory. seen and experienced it. thanks for your compliment.

  • TheButleR

    Why did you put in the answer? Can’t we make that up for ourselves?

  • Pat68

    I agree with your theory also, Sabio, about what people want in terms of certainty. The problem is, that when we buy into that, we’re just a bunch of actors–each one doing what we think the other one wants. Many (maybe even most) want certainty, but you’d be surprised by those who actually admire one’s show of vulnerability. It gives them the courage to do the same and drop the mask. It may only happen on a small scale, but I opt for that any day over continuing to be part of the masquerade.

  • http://triangulations.wordpress.com/ Sabio Lantz

    LOL,
    My bet: that answer only came from a few folks. The rest of the sheeple kicked him out, got a new pastor and that pastor tried to start another church but didn’t make enough money so had to go into consulting or cartoon drawing. Uncertainty don’t sell well.

  • http://triangulations.wordpress.com/ Sabio Lantz

    Oh, I couldn’t agree more, Pat68.

    Interestingly, I think people are complex — we all have partitioned minds, so they may be open to uncertainty in some areas of their life (and even boast of it) but very closed in others (and totally oblivious to it.) One thing is for certain: most of us consider our own mentality to be the most virtuous!

  • Jeannie Boen

    Love it.

  • Al Cruise

    Well said. I think you nailed what goes on in most Churches.

  • TheButleR

    Can you draw? ;)

  • http://triangulations.wordpress.com/ Sabio Lantz

    Nope, that is why I fake confidence for my patients.
    (shhhhhh)

  • http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/ Lothar Lorraine

    Hello, you’re entirely right to be very critical of harmful things going on in churches, this is what love is all about.

    I agree with everything in the cartoon EXCEPT that it is obvious we are NOT fine as we are where we are.

    Cheers.

  • Brigitte Mueller

    Luther’s Sacristy Prayer: “Lord God, You have appointed me as a pastor in Your Church, but you see how unsuited I am to meet so great and difficult a task. If I had lacked Your help, I would have ruined everything long ago. Therefore, I call upon You: I wish to devote my mouth and my heart to you; I shall teach the people. I myself will learn and ponder diligently upon Your Word. Use me as Your instrument — but do not forsake me, for if ever I should be on my own, I would easily wreck it all.”

  • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

    I don’t really like this whole “I’m worthless and sinfull and only when I allow God to work me like a puppet can I do good things” version of Christianity.
    Luther was good to point out some of the abuses of the Catholic Church at the time but I think a lot of his other theology (including book worship) is problematic.

  • http://triangulations.wordpress.com/ Sabio Lantz

    Luther had a long deep relationship with his Lord Yahweh. The relationship apparently changed him deeply. For, according to wiki, in the beginning of his ‘career’ he was excited about converting them, but after years of God’s gentle guidance he realized Yahweh want him to harshly persecute them. It was ugly.

    Makes Brigitte’s quote above, “If I had lacked Your help, I would have ruined everything long ago.” Make a lot of sense — look what God’s guidance can do!

    Then a whole denomination was named in his favor.

    And maybe Brigitte would have loved him as a pastor following his teaching and preaching against Jews at his time. See the previous post’s poster.

    BTW, I was raised Lutheran. Cut-and-pastes bring out the worse in me.

  • Brigitte Mueller

    Sorry for bringing out the worst in you Sabio, but your grasp of Luther is very tenuous. A whole denomination was named for him (in the English speaking world) because of the convenience of label, orginally just describing a new “heresy”. The label was originally “Evangelisch”, people of the evangel, the Gospel. But evangelical has been used now by the Evangelicals, who are not really the same thing, being mostly Bapti-costal.

  • Brigitte Mueller

    Luther also stressed the “living word”, which is the spoken word, the word between people, the forgiving word, the word preached live, out loud, speaking to the current condition, needs, lacks and hopes. However, the authority is with the “fontes”, the source, the orginal writings, not with some come-lately preacher or pope with his own spin.

  • http://triangulations.wordpress.com/ Sabio Lantz

    So classic of you Brigitte, just as the previous post, you fail to see the main point.

    Great, you educated us on the name of your Christian sect.

    But you totally avoided my main point. Not surprised.

  • Cecilia Davidson

    The only problem with using “the living word” is that it changes meaning.

  • Geoff Glenister

    I think I understand this feeling. I have found that it is so indescribably hard to walk the path of the Narrow Way. I try so hard to critique that which I know to be wrong, but to do so in love, and then people misunderstand me and believe that I am showing hate to groups of people. And I try to tell them this is not the case, but then sometimes I wonder about my own motives, because I know they are not always pure. I can’t remain silent, and yet it’s so hard to speak what is true and right without offending someone. I must speak, and yet it is so difficult to do, and the responsibility of speaking the truth in love is so immense…. And yet sometimes…sometimes you meet someone else who is questioning. Sometimes you meet someone else who is struggling. And when you talk with these people, there is a peace which is so indescribable. Together, you find healing. Oh, if we could all just question with sincerity and love, how much better our struggles would be! We would find joy in them, rather than strife! It can be FUN to explore truth if we are all humbly aware of our limitations and if we all just live in the questions together rather than beating each other over the heads with the so-called-knowledge we supposedly have!


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