Dear Pastors, Tell Us the Truth

April 10th, 2011

This post was inspired by a few things:  

First, the brilliantly titled Epic Fail Pastors Conference, born from the question “What if we offered a space that is gutsy, hopeful, courageously vulnerable for pastors to let go of the burden to be a Super Pastor?” Second, a candid talk from David Felton at Big Tent Christianity about how pastors are often afraid to share what they are learning about the Bible and Christianity with their congregations for fear or recourse. (David recalled one pastor who reached retirement and said, “Now I can finally say what I really think.”) And third, the increasing number of pastors who contact me to say that they have doubts too, but can’t tell anyone about them.


Dear Pastors, 

Tell us the truth. 

Tell us the truth when you don’t know the answers to our questions, and your humility will set the example as we seek them out together.   

Tell us the truth about your doubts, and we will feel safe sharing our own. 

Tell us the truth when you get tired, when the yoke grows too heavy and the hill too steep to climb, and we will learn to carry one another’s burdens because we started with yours. 

Tell us the truth when you are sad, and we too will stop pretending. 

Tell us the truth when your studies lead you to new ideas that might stretch our faith and make us uncomfortable, and those of us who stick around will never forget that you trusted us with a challenge. 

Tell us the truth when your position is controversial, and we will grow braver along with you. 

Tell us the truth when you need to spend time on your marriage, and we will remember to prioritize ours. 

Tell us the truth when you fail, and we will stop expecting perfection

Tell us the truth when you think that our old ways of doing things need to change, and though we may push back, the conversation will force us to examine why we do what we do and perhaps inspire something even greater. 

Tell us the truth when you fall short, and we will drop our measuring sticks. 

Tell us the truth when all that’s left is hope, and we start digging for it. 

Tell us the truth when the world requires radical grace, and we will generate it. 

Tell us the truth even if it’s surprising, disappointing, painful, joyous, unexpected, unplanned, and unresolved, and we will learn that this is what it means to be people of faith. 

Tell us the truth and you won’t be the only one set free


The Congregation 


Rachel Held Evans is author of Evolving in Monkey Town and a forthcoming experimental memoir on biblical womanhood. Read more from Rachel Held Evans at her blog.

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