Why do I call myself a pastor in exile? Allow me to explain.
Technically, I was never a pastor. My network had set me in as an elder and teacher according to the fivefold ministry. I was in church leadership, I preached, and I was the second man in the church. Most churches would have called me a pastor. I should call myself “Teacher in Exile” to be correct, but then, most would think of school, not church.
But apart from technicalities, let me give you my backstory.
I have lived through many worldviews. My mother had a postmodern view of the world that she grew into slowly in my young years and broke through when I was a teenager. It showed in my anti-authoritarian upbringing.
My father was a modernist, as much as one can be. He focussed on personal success and what he could bring to the workforce, upholding lifelong learning and good work ethics.
My secondary education took place in a traditional catholic boarding home and a humanistic modernist school.
Feeling at home and alone at the same time in all of them, I learned to recognize the up- and downsides of each worldview very early on. And I started to integrate them while meeting everyone at the place they were at.
I also experienced all church history, even though in an odd order. Born a protestant, but honestly, more a heathen, I visited a Jesus People house church around 7, an evangelical church around 13, and a catholic boarding home from 14. I experienced Quakers, Lutherans, and Judaism during my time in the US. Later I joined a charismatic church and ended up in a fundamentalist apostolic network that grew out of Word of Faith.
School and Work
I worked as a computer programmer, software architect, and project manager. In parallel, I studied history, political sciences, mathematics, computer sciences, artificial intelligence, computational linguistics, and theology. I own no titles, have no papers, and do not care.
I dove into the psychology of personality and became a certified coach for CliftonStrengths and a certified Spiral Dynamics practitioner.
Several years ago, I have been healed from not smelling nor tasting. It was a grandiose day that sent me into sensory overflow for quite some time, but has opened up worlds for me since.
The tension of living in different worldviews all of my life has had its downsides. Being in a job that calls for at least the complexity of a modern mindset, working for self-organizing integral companies for some time while co-pastoring a fundamentalist traditional church, was tearing me apart. If I had not had this experience early on, I probably could not have done it.
Still, I developed cancer, and recovery has been quite a journey.
All these paths have led up to the place I am now.
The church I co-pastored returned to old principles and traditional teachings when Covid-19 hit, thinking it needed to narrow down to keep its members safe. It became apparent that my calling could no longer be fulfilled in such a setting.
Having an integral mindset, I saw it as my duty to lead the church into the next phase of God’s plan, while the church decided to hunker down in the same-old same-old. We parted ways.
I believe that I was faithful. For 34 years in two churches, I stayed faithful to my calling, and both churches were offered a chance to grow and become what God has planned for this time. In the Bible, the number 17, the number of years I spent in each of these churches, symbolizes “overcoming the enemy” and “complete victory.” This was offered, with the enemy being one’s ego and closed-minded thinking. Do not get me wrong: the traditional church serves an excellent purpose today for traditional people, and I love them for it. It’s just not my place any longer.
Having been in a waiting position for some time, I am ready to launch out again. My next undertaking: exploring an integral theology and building a network of like-minded people. And just like a prophet of old who, when not welcomed in Jerusalem, prophesied outside the city gates, I do what I do as a pastor and teacher in exile.