Sunday, September 13, 2009

Leaving Church

I took Barbara Brown Taylor's Leaving Church with me on my mini-vacation to Western New York a couple of week's back. I am not going to post a thorough review because this book has been out long enough that there are plenty of great reviews on the web.

It may have been that I read a lot of the book on the front porch of my childhood home, overlooking the grape vineyards where I spent seemingly most of my childhood, but this book really went straight to my heart. Taylor is an exceptional author (that is an understatement) and she weaves a beautiful story of her call to ministry, her life in ministry and her eventual calling to leave ministry. In it, we hear the glorious joys of the life of a pastor and the many stresses, pitfalls and dark valleys of the life on ministry.

I want to go out on a limb and say this one ought to be required reading: for pastors - that they might hear their own joys and struggles reflected so beautifully and look for the warning signs that lead to the end of a life in the church; for those who love pastors - that they might get a glimpse inside the life, the parts you see and the part you don't see; for those who work with pastors - church leaders, pastor advisory committees, pastor parish relations committees, etc - that they might better walk alongside the one appointed to lead the church.

Taylor is not the only pastor who has left the church. The burnout rate for church pastors is ridiculous. Sometimes it is a right a good thing that a person moves into another season of life and ministry. But sometimes the time is not right but the life is overwhelming. We should all be part of avoiding that.

Even if you are not interested in all that, the book is fun, funny and poignant. Barbara Brown Taylor is a gift to Christ's church.


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