Last Friday I announced my resignation as the paid pastor ofClaypot.
In the following few paragraphs I’m going to try to explain what led to this decision, what the decision is not and also some possibilities for the future.
What led to this decision? The short answer is: a deep awareness of a call from God. This call has to do with a personal calling and a communal calling.
Firstly the communal calling.
Since 2003 God has continually convinced and beckoned the Claypot community towards becoming a multicultural community that recovers church as a verb. In September of 2009 we realized that in order to be faithful to this call we had to move away from having our church services on a Sunday in a predominant white suburb. The elders, together with the community were invited to pray and discern whether this communal calling was one they personally felt from the Lord.
Those of you who are familiar with the Claypot membership process will know that we have had a yearly process where every person in the community ‘loose’ their membership in January. Members were invited to discern whether God wanted them to serve in the Claypot community for the next year. This year the process was similar to previous years with the added discernment of moving in order to become a multicultural community, being church as a verb and contextualizing the journey in South Africa.
This past weekend those who discerned this call in the last six months gathered at the camp to discuss/discern the way forward. This describes some of the contours of the communal call.
Secondly the personal calling.
Since coming back to South Africa in 2003 I have experienced God’s gentle nudge to what I describe(d) as my “continued conversion to South Africa”; a journey of conversion from ‘just’ being a rich, white Afrikaner to becoming a follower of Jesus in South Africa with other South Africans.
More than ever I feel that this calling leads us to being part of a multi-ethnic community that is a reflection of South African culture. Contributing to places and ways where the “deep embodied reconciliation” I have mentioned in a previous postcan be explored. Therefore, in terms of my and Lollie’s discernment on Claypots’ communal calling we both feel God’s go ahead. We feel that we’re called to our continued communal journey.
We decided that for the way forward we are stepping down from being paid as the pastors. I now offer some reasons for this decision. When I offer these reasons I’m stating them as description of our own convictions and not as prescription for others.
Before I offer some of the reasons let me state what this decision does not mean for us.
It doesn’t mean that we are down, hurt, in despair or crushed (we are stretched).
It doesn’t mean that we are leaving the Claypot community (we serve the community as members).
It doesn’t mean we have given up on church (Jesus doesn’t why should we).
It doesn’t mean that the community will now call someone else and pay him/her to be the leader/pastor (we are being led by a group of leaders with Jesus as the Head).
It doesn’t mean that I will stop serving with my gifts (I will use them differently).
It doesn’t mean that we were forced to do this by some scandal or financial shortage (This decision has been made in submission to the elders and with their blessing and support).
I now offer some of the reasons for our stepping down from being paid (which btw is a scary step for us). The reasons pertain again to the communal and the personal dimensions of the calling we discerned from God:
- We strongly believe in a plurality of leaders serving under the Headship of Jesus. This became difficult to foster in Claypot when one of the leaders (me) was paid.
- We feel it would be best that when Claypot merges into a multicultural community, the community is not lead by the stereotypical white male but by a multicultural community of leaders of both genders.
- We dream of a community where the tithes/offerings of the community can be used for the poor and not to indirectly bless us by paying someone who can perform Christian services for us (notably by receiving a teaching on a Sunday).
- We are convinced that my teaching gift has been exercised in a way that doesn’t allow for the other gifts of the community to be exercised (this is both my fault and the community’s); therefore I am rethinking how to faithfully use the gifts God gave me. This is also stirring others to ask the same questions about their gifts.
- Since 2003 I have struggled with the concept of being a paid fulltime minister; I feel I now have the grace and courage to follow through on my personal sense of calling and direction and to struggle further into an answer.
- I have been invited to partner with Oasis in South Africa, and after prayerfully engaging with this invitation, we feel confirmation of God’s voice in this calling.
- We feel a calling to learn as much as we can about racial reconciliation and offer some embodied responses to the issues of unity, reconciliation and justice in South Africa (Belhar).
- Lollie (And I support her) discerns God’s calling to continue towards her dream of becoming a Psychologist.
The last few months have been intense. I have discovered the vastness of God and conversely a lot of my own limitations. More than ever I’m facing issues of identity. I am not just my gifts of teaching, pastoring and leadership. I’m more. My identity is not based on just those issues.
In order to do my work with Oasis I will have to fundraise for my salary. In the next few weeks we will have meetings at our house for people who would be interested to hear more of the work we will be doing. If you are interested to hear more, would like to become part of the process, or financially support us – please join us on either the 29th of April or the 6thof May at 19:30 at our house.
Anyone who is interested is welcome. There is no pressure for committing to anything. Come and hear what is on our hearts and if it moves you then we can see how we can partner.
If you are interested to join us on either of these evenings please email me to confirm which evening you will attend. For friends oversees who are interested we can set up some time to Skype.
Lastly I want to share something out of the South African context that has been a great encouragement in the last few weeks. In 1982 the confession of Belhar was conceived in South Africa. It is a confession that deals with the gifts and commands of unity, reconciliation and justice. God is moving me and Lollie to explore those in our South African context. In the accompanying letter of the confession the following is stated …
We know that such an act of confession and process of reconciliation will necessarily involve much pain and sadness. It demands the pain of repentance, remorse, and confession; the pain of individual and collective renewal and a changed way of life. It places us on a road whose end we can neither foresee nor manipulate to our own desire. On this road we shall unavoidably suffer intense growing pains while we struggle to conquer alienation, bitterness, irreconciliation, and fear. We shall have to come to know and encounter both ourselves and others in new ways. We are only too well aware that this confession calls for the dismantling of structures of thought, of church, and of society which have developed over many years. However, we confess that for the sake of the gospel, we have no other choice.
This gives some hues of what we are feeling in this time … may God be with us … A phrase I’ve learnt from David Bosch is “bold humility” may we grow in that.
 With church as a verb we talk about the recovering of being the church and not just going to a church (a noun).
 The “we” here refers to me, Lollie and the kids.