I suppose I should correct #1 from my list of How to Deconstruct Your Church. I should probably say, instead, that you should deconstruct yourself first. I guess this is especially for pastors, but it applies to all of us who want to deconstruct the church so that we can become a genuine community of free individuals. So, here's a list of how to deconstruct yourself:
- First of all, you have to really want to. It has to be an inner necessity. You've seen the light and you have no choice. You are a fraud exposed. You are going to divest yourself of your false self. Let everyone know that the real you is here to stay (whether they like it or not, fire you or not, desert you or not).
- Create a small group of people with whom you can open up and really be yourself with. Your leadership team or elders is best, if possible.
- Keep a journal. It will help you be honest and keep on track. Write even your dreams, which are excellent detectors of what our masks are. Write what people say about you. For instance, my wife said to me once: "When you are more spiritual, you are a worse husband!" I've never forgotten that because it exposed that my spirituality at the time was nourishing an arrogance in me.
- Start letting some of the things you do that are motivated by ambition, rote tradition, competition, or people-pleasing die. Stop doing it. Explain why if necessary.
- Have people call you by your first name (not pastor, Mr., Reverend, or Father, etc.). Be a real, normal accessible person.
- Recognize those things about you that aren't truly you but are attached to your identity as a pastor. Reject them! Example: there are some of your people (and I know some pastors) who have what they think is a biblical view of the authority of a pastor, but is in fact identical to the idea of the "Divine Right of Kings". Reject it!
- In your mind and heart, genuinely become one with the people. Party with them. Drink too much with them. This, I think, was one of Martin Luther's strengths as a reformer. His community was his friends, and they would get together and party and intentionally drink too much to spite the devil.
- Prepare for rejection. Many religious people want a king. If you aren't willing to be that for them, they will go and find one. I can't tell you how many people have left because I was an insufficient leader or none at all.
- Develop other means of income in case your church shrinks to a size where it is unable to pay you a full salary. Over the last 13 years of my own deconstruction and that of our church, I have taken several pay cuts. I am making much less than I did when I started pastoring this church 13 years ago. Lisa has had to start working, and I am an artist on the side. I've done construction and other side projects to keep my family supported. I've even received unemployment benefits.
- Start to seriously question everything, especially your theology and your ideas of what church and ministry is. Let your theology deconstruct, realizing that much of what we are taught and have learned endorses power, authority and control, and is contrary to freedom. Begin to discover what the truth is for yourself. Your search, it is promised, will not go unrewarded.