By Mike Peercy

Mike Peercy has spent 24 years in full-time vocational pastoral ministry. He and his wife Tori have recently established a new ministry to serve the relational needs surrounding the foster care community. Find more of Mike’s work at fosteringgrace.org and mikepeercy.com.

    How Do I Find Where I Belong?

    Wednesday, February 28, 2024

    I’m Mike and I’m a recovering pastor.

    For more than a year now I have been something utterly unfamiliar to my life experience. I’ve been a guest in church.

    Whether it was a guest speaker or a guest with a family member or friend, I’ve been a guest in every church service (most every week) I’ve attended. There’s nothing at all wrong with being a guest. I think most of the Christian culture is pretty mindful of their treatment of guests and doing what we hope will help them feel welcome. But I suspect most of us have never really been in that spot ourselves—especially those of us in the pastoral roles.

    For most of my adult life I have been asked to come to a church in consideration for a vocational ministry position. And now I find myself in a different season with a question that makes most of my pastoral counsel of the last couple of decades seem a little insufficient: How do I find where I belong?

    I have a lot of thoughts on the matter.

    Do I go where our closest friends are going? Do I go where I am already friends with the pastor? Do I go where I think I can help? Do I go where they already somewhat know me? Do I go where I feel comfortable? Do I go where they do the best job of making people feel welcome? Do I go where I like the music or where they have a really solid biblical perspective (i.e. that aligns most with my own)?

    How do I find where I belong?

    I recognize my need for a substantive and genuine community. I know that it is important to my own spiritual health. But I also know that, having been a pastor for so many years, I am often seen differently than just another potential member. And, if I’m honest, I want to be seen differently… and I don’t want to be seen differently.

    How do I find where I belong?

    It’s not different for me as a former pastor. But it IS different for me as a former pastor. Is it my pride that makes it so? Is it my baggage that causes this? Perhaps the real issue is that I am looking for something that I once had—only to realize it was not really what I thought it was.

    How do I find where I belong?

    If you are a pastor reading this, it is likely that you have already begun to formulate all of the obvious answers to my nagging questions here. But do we as ministers have the grace to sit with one another in the questions—in the tension between knowing truth and struggling to embrace it? Can we be present with one another in the wrestling without forcing our certainty onto another?

    How do I find where I belong?

    I know what I have always asked others to do: to prayerfully visit some different churches, to consider where they sense the Spirit leading, and to look more at where they can plug in and serve than where they can be served. But right now that advice, though still sound wisdom, just rings a little insufficient. I’m still attempting to follow it, but the questions still gnaw at me.

    How do I find where I belong?

    I’m Mike and I’m a recovering pastor. This is my confession.

    This blog is part of a series of blogs titled, “Honest Confessions of a Recovering Pastor”. Click here to read: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4

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