On Pastoring a Transient Congregation

Yesterday at ministrieslab, we popped up at Transitions homeless shelter. It would be easy to think if you have been following the journey of ministrieslab that we have created a predictable time and space to worship. And we have. It would be easy to think we have developed a community of faith with regular participants. And we have.

But these are not the norm. Over the course of three months, we worshipped with thirty-five different people. Yesterday we had fifteen people only two of whom who had worshipped with us before.

Pastoring a pop up church has taught me that my desire to have an order of worship that we follow every week with a community of faith that has familiar faces is part of my privilege. In the three months of co-pastoring ministrieslab, I have learned more about my own privilege, stereotypes, and assumptions than I expected or really wanted to. I have been reminded of my experience teaching in high poverty schools and the shock when I came back from Christmas break to discover that one third of my class had moved and one third of my class was now new. When you are working in the midst of need, you are working with a transient population.

My privilege has allowed me the certainty to plan for where I will be from week to week. My privilege has allowed me the certainty that when I get involved of a community of faith I will be accepted and welcomed and allowed to serve and learn and grow. Coming to terms with the truth that my worship experiences as a congregant and as pastor has been filled with privilege has been tough to swallow.

We will need ministers ready and willing to challenge their own privilege to lead us the church into the future. The process isn’t easy. It’s humbling and vulnerable and disorienting, but this is the future of the church.