Sunday, September 25, 2005

Sunday Reflections: On Being a Pastor and a Goth

Sunday Reflections: On Being a Pastor and a Goth
I woke up oddly refreshed this morning at nine O'clock for having been out to the Goth club Nocturna last night. I am now printing out the order of worship for Reconciler's worship service this evening. It is this juxtaposition that I want to reflect upon.
It has been quite some time since Kate and I have been to a Goth club. The last time we went it was before I was licensed as a Covenant Minister in April of this year. I was all decked out in my version of high Goth attire (that is the creation of a look by the artful mixing of contrasting fashions and textures, there is so much more to Goth fashion than standard black, velvet, and long flowy things),and a bit of eye make up and lipstick. As we headed out to the club I was the most aware I have been (outside of the pastoral work of Reconciler) of being a pastor. It has been one of those odd struggles the past year of being a church planter that when I am out and about doing everyday things I have trouble remembering I am a pastor. I am not any longer a private individual Christian who certainly does (or at least should) show the light of Christ in all situations but I am now a pastor who represent the church in a way I did not before. The apparent contradiction here is that obviously people would not look at me and say "Oh, there's a pastor at a Goth club." In fact some may have trouble squaring the Goth look and taste with anything Christianlet alone with being a pastor. So in a sense I was existentially most aware of my position and status as a pastor, as a public person, at the very moment of that being most hidden. However, I would emphasize that I was not seeking to hide being a pastor, rather I was simply not wearing any ecclesiastical signifiers (except that I always wear a cross, though that is, especially at a Goth club, an ambiguous signifier).
What I am coming to is that I need the Goth scene to fully be a pastor. Now as I write this I know that sounds odd, perhaps even an extremely flawed assertion. I am not exactly certain what that means at this time. What I do know is that after going out being among my fellow Goths, meeting up with acquaintances in the scene, and dancing the night away, I feel refreshed and the most myself as a pastor as I have felt since being at Reconciler and since being licensed. Also, at the club last night being a pastor was at the forefront of my consciousness, and if someone had asked me what Idid, that would have been the first thing I would have said (as opposed to my response that I have been unable to shake that I have used since finishing seminary "artist and temporary worker," the spiritual direction and pastoral ambitions always came aslater revelations should the conversation go that way).
I in fact do not, nor ever have, hide the fact of being a Christian in the Goth scene, and so most acquaintances in the scene know that I have been to seminary and know that I was on the way to becoming a pastor. So, we walk into Nocturna and first thing we run into a quy we know who Kate has recently been seeing on the train so he knows about Reconciler and has known that I planned to become a pastor. He asks me about the church, and then proceedsto introduce me to his girlfriend as a pastor, and says he wants to start coming to the church, and declares that I will be their pastor. Now, I don't know what will come of this, but he had recently told Kate that he had given up on the church. It will be interesting should he and his girlfriend come to Reconciler, since what he knows of Christianity and what he thinks of the church is the non-denominational American evangelical churches. What I do know is that he and I would not have crossed pathsexcept for our being part of the Goth scene. In a sense like I once brought the light of Christ with me into the Goth scene (several people have in fact said that my presence in at the clubs is one of light) but I now also bring with me the church. That may make some of you uncomfortable since you may want to keep such sub-cultures at a distance from the church. But perhaps keeping distance from such subcultures keeps the church from completely being the church in our context. Perhaps I need the Goth scene to be a pastor (not only because to not be Goth would be to deny part of myself and my aesthetic) because the church in seeking to be pure has sought to sequester itself from the culture it lives in, rather than choosing the offensive purity demonstrated by Jesus in the Gospels.
This leads to some thoughts I have on being church and worship, but that is another post
PS. I am aware that the Goth scene is not for everyone. In fact, I know that durring the time that I was uncertain what was ahead after I wasn't accepted to any Ph. D. programs after seminary it was an awkward place to be. So, understand that it could be a difficult perhaps dangerous place if you do not have a good snese of yourself. I came to the Goth scene at a time in my life when I was fairly secure in myself and could clearly chose how to egage the scene. The Goth scene is perhaps not a particularly healthy way to come into oneself. But, I would say the same for most corporate cultures and in general our consumerist/capitalist culture does not provide a good foundation for the self either. However, few voices in the church argue for disengagement from democratic consumer/caapitalist culture. My sense is that if the church properly does the work of building up the faithful in Christ engagement in all segments of our culture would not be such a scary proposition..