June 21, 2006

The Future

When choosing a career, where does passion fit into the mix?

I've been doing a great bit of thinking about this lately; what am I to do with myself once I leave Australia? Where do I go, what sort of path has God laid out for me? Should I even leave? Do I go to seminary like I'd originally planned? Why? What other career options do I have?

I think the biggest reason I've been nutting through this is my questions about the church in general. Originally, before I started my senior year of college, my plans included seminary, and then moving to some church somewhere and heading up an amazing worship ministry where music was original and cool and converted lots of people. I had high hopes for myself.

Then my senior year came along and, like always, I had to go and question the establishment. I've always been the one asking the seemingly stupid questions. My Uncle Bick took me out deep-lake fishing when I was nine, and when we got home, he was fairly pissed off, asking my parents, "does he ever shut up? He didn't stop asking questions the entire three hours we were gone!"

I couldn't see why we did what we did in church. Why did we decide that singing as a large group was a good thing? Why did we think that "seeker-sensitivity" was a good idea? Were there any seekers to be sensitive to? What's the point of meeting once a week and making ourselves feel good? After a while, I'd been accepted to the program that led me to Australia for a year, and somebody said, "Chris, we'd indoctinate you, but you're moving to Australia." I got worried about my future in worship ministry, and indeed, in the established church - if people think that I just don't get it, either I need to learn, or there's more to the picture.

Since coming to Melbourne, I've discovered that I'm not the only one who thinks like this. There's a whole organization in Australia devoted to those questions I've been asking. I've met them - they're amazing people, gentle as lambs, but annoying to most established churches because they too can't stop asking questions.

And so, where do I go? I don't believe that worship ministry is the place for me anymore. I love music, shall continue to play, but it won't be on a stage in a church somewhere. I don't even think churches should have stages anymore, let alone a presentation on them. Or more to the point, I don't think churches should have buildings anymore, and if they need one, perhaps they need to think about why.

This doesn't bode well for my financial future, however. I have a degree in, essentially, music in religion. It's not very useful for much of anything. I can go to seminary and go work in an established church, I could be a missionary and raise funding my entire life, or spend my life working in coffee shops and kmarts hoping that my family has enough to get by.

Frankly, none of these sound that appealing. But the question remains, how much does my passion for music or for a mission-minded church need to fit into the jobs I use to pay the bills? I suppose it doesn't, but should I have any passion for my job?

That's the clincher.

I've got a few ideas. Maybe be a professor (the top choice at the moment), work with FORGE, write a book, plant a church in the community where I'm teaching ... that one sounds the best so far. Maybe open a coffee shop like Alan Hirshe, or perhaps pioneer the first American Chocolate by the Bald Man. That sounds good too. Maybe I'll change fields entirely and go professional musician, or choose a new field entirely and get my masters in something else (but what?).

The possibilities are endless, I guess. But I'll ask the question anyway, because I'm curious: what do you, the collective internet population, think about woship ministry? What is worship? Where does the institution we call the "church" belong? (and "in a handbasket on its way somewhere hot" isn't a good answer, although it's mildly creative). What about passion? Should ministers be payed?
And maybe, do you have any ideas for what this poor amateur musician could do with his life?


Anonymous said...

Why leave Australia?

Chris said...

Well, our visa expires in March, and getting a new one is extremely difficult. Not that it might not be worth it, mind you, but all the same, it took us four months to get them to let us stay here for only a year, and that was when they were sure we were funded by somebody not in Australia.

Shawna said...

Ahh, the ever present question "what do I do with my life?" Good news if you've given your life completely to God, cause chances are he's got something pretty incredible waiting for you, its just the whole waiting for God's perfect timing to bring it all about thats the hard part