I used to pastor a church, but then I left. It’s not that I stopped believing in God or the church or that I lost my faith or even that the job was too hard.
Not at all.
Rather, I left for two reasons ...
(1) I was overwhelmed with frustration that I was expected to preach the Bible every Sunday morning from the context of a box.
What I mean by that is that there was no freedom to wrestle with the stories; there were judgmental looks if I came to conclusions that were different from the norm; and there were (literally) emergency meetings the moment church ended if I suggested that there were, perhaps, different ways to understand some of the verses and stories of the Bible than how we’ve always understood them.
(2) And I could no longer stand the constant pressure to become the church’s main spiritual magnet that was responsible to draw people into our building.
Every week of every month of every year, meeting after meeting after meeting, the same thing was emphasized - “we have to get more people to come to our church and you (as the pastor) are responsible to make it happen.”
I loved exploring the Bible. I’ve been studying it for over 20 years - on a personal level, college level, and graduate level. I read it everyday, study it every week ... that ancient collection of writings is the passion of my life.
And I loved connecting with people as their pastor - visiting the sick, serving communion, taking people to lunch, talking to them about their worries and fears and problems.
I loved all of that stuff, but the politics (for lack of a better word) became too much for me and so I decided to explore how to pursue my love for the Bible and for people in other ways.
The What If Project is one of those ways - this is my attempt to create a safe place for people to explore 2 important questions:
(1) What if there are ways of understanding God and the Bible that are different than the ways in which we typically do? Like, what if it’s OK to wrestle with the stories, to come to conclusions that are different than the norm, to read the Bible and to voice the hard questions? What if there are multiple ways to understand its stories and words as opposed to one way that everyone has to agree with? And what if we could do all of that with freedom, without the judgmental looks, and without emergency meetings that ended with someone declaring that they were right and everyone else was wrong?
(2) And what if there are ways of bringing church to people as opposed to always trying to bring people to church? What if because God is no longer confined to the 4 walls of the Temple, we can be creative in the ways that we bring Him and the Bible and the elements of church (i.e. things like communion and Bible study) to people in the places where they spend their time? - Their homes, their schools, their workplaces, their smart phones, etc.
We’ll explore these questions together via weekly blog posts, a podcast (containing audio versions of those posts as well as interviews with pastors, professors, and more), vlog entries, short films, and an online small group / Bible study.
My name is Glenn Siepert and I’m a writer, thinker, doctoral student, friend, and follower of Jesus and this is my attempt to create a space that I’ve always longed for and I suspect that others have longed for as well.
Welcome to the What If Project.