by Stan Bennett

by Stan Bennett

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Who Am I If I'm not a Minister?

This was article I first started writing when I thought of this blog. I decided to finish it and put it out here.  

Everything I write has to do with my identity as a minister: my blogs, newspaper articles, even a very bad novel that was about a minister (No you will not get to read it).

As I've said, I want out of the ministry. I'm tired of it. I'm sick all the time both in body and mind.

And I don't believe anymore. 

I don't believe in the god of Christianity, nor of the god of the Hebrew Bible, from which Christianity sprang. I don't believe there is a hell, and I don't believe in the version of heaven that Christianity has invented--and it has been invented as well as evolved over the years. 

But what am I if I'm not a minister. I've never been anything else. 

I have worked as a professional minister all my life. It's the emphasis of my education and I've thrown myself into the work. It's how people know me, like me, hate me, admire me, speak to me--all in the context of being a minister. 

I trapped myself.  I'm not credentialed to do anything else although I probably have abilities to do other things.  I fear I'm too tired and maybe too old to work hard enough to start something new.

Yet that is exactly what I must do.  I've paid too high a cost. My marriage is troubled and my children have been harmed. It's like the life has been sucked out of all of us. I'm sick all the time.  

I don't want to make just a small adjustment. I'm not looking for a easier denomination to work with or go into chaplain work.  

I'm not sure what I'll do it, but if I don't change, I'll unconsciously precipitate some crisis that will expedite my leaving, and I'll be serving up burgers at the fastfood if I'm fortunate.  So I'll make my change deliberately  


  1. At least Paul was a tentmaker. I've never liked the idea of minister or politician as a career. You could always go to school to learn something new.

  2. Mono is right. You CAN go back to school. Certainly, some of your college credits can transfer easily to another degree.

    And there isn't any shame working fast food. Or at a strip joint.
    Just sayin'.

  3. I felt desperate at your age to get out of the church, too. (I believe you said somewhere that you're in your 50s) I would cry and beg (God, at the time) for a way out. Nothing. Nada. Silence.

    Four years ago I decided that I needed to begin readying myself for retirement so I wouldn't just sit around, watch TV, drink and smoke weed. I still want to make a difference in the world. I began a wedding officiant business where I marry mostly non-religious folks. I LOVE doing this and it's well-paying. Everyone falls in love. The church likes to think it has a corner on marriage, but that's a laugh. I've not shared this with my bishop, but I can't believe he doesn't know...the church gossip grapevine and all that. (I used to be so collegial with my sister/brother pastors, but I can't stomach that anymore. But I'm sure a few have seen my website and the news has filtered back to the bish. Oh...and I refuse to submit reports about numbers and all that shit to the bish anymore. They keep reminding me they're due, but after I stopped doing it about 10 years ago, they haven't reprimanded me. I honestly don't think they know what to do with me. I was on the committee for 18 years, and its chair for several years for the oversight of seminary students and their "approval" for ordination. That's how involved I was in the church hierarchy until one day I got the shits of it and quit. How could I possibly lead those poor little seminary lambs to their sure slaughter? Sorry...I am sooooooooo digressing.

    Depending what state you live in, that could be a VERY viable option. Some states have lay wedding officiants coming out the wazoo,most having some kind of internet ordination that they bought. In my state, however, the law states that one has to be a pastor (no internet ordination), a judge or a JP to officiate at a wedding. Most pastors I know won't marry people outside of the church, so there is becoming more and more of a need for legal wedding officiants in some states. If that appeals at all, you might want to check it out.

    I've also gotten my certification to teach yoga. While it doesn't pay much, it is so peaceful and satisfying.

    I'm not trying to solve your problem. I'm just sharing what is working for me. I could make some other suggestions that might appeal to you and some of your interests from one disillusioned, non-believing pastor to another. Since you have an email address somewhere on your page, I'll shoot you my email if you have any interest. I won't be offended it you choose not to contact me. You'll see cosmicmom in my addy. Jai bhagwan! (The god in me honors the god in you)

    1. You are an entertaining writer! do you have a blog? All that hierarchy bullshit you mentioned sounds very familiar and whatever you called that business about marrying people, sounds like a pretty good idea. I'm open to all kinds of ideas, so send them on!. Thanks for writing.