The Android in the Pulpit

kind robotWell, it’s been over a month since I became the pastor at First Christian in Mahtomedi, MN.  So far I haven’t crashed the church into a tree.

I’m still a bit surprised I’m doing this.  I had started to convince myself that I just couldn’t pastor a church all on my own.  Someone who has Aspergers just can’t be the sole pastor of a whole congregation.  There are so many little rules that I could just ignore and cause a whole mess of heartache.

So far, it’s been good.  I’m reminding myself to say thanks to all the laypeople who keep the church going and sending notes to people who haven’t been to church in a long time.  Sometimes I don’t understand why I have to do this, but I’ve been in this business long enough to know that being a pastor is about caring for the people as much (or more than) knowing your systematic theology.

I’ve been thinking about this lately after reading an article written by a fellow aspie.  Brant Hanson shares his own questions about things he sees in church, especially things he just doesn’t get.  I resonate with his grappling to be emotionally moved during a worship service and wondering what the hell is wrong with me.  (Did I not believe enough?)  Here’s a sample of what he wrote:

Multiple times, each week, every week, I found myself wishing I’d be moved by the worship music, or that I could shut off my skeptical mind during the sermons.

I’d see people in church services, Christian concerts and Bible camps overcome by emotion and enraptured with charismatic speakers, and I wondered why I didn’t feel that way.

Why did I always feel like a cold observer?

After going to college, I was convinced my lack of feeling meant I was missing something, spiritually, so I joined charismatic Christian groups in which emotional manifestations of the Holy Spirit are common.

I desperately wanted to have what they had – an emotional experience of God’s presence – and asked them to pray over me.

It didn’t work.

Growing up as I did in the black church, I can relate.  I’ve not really had a very emotional experience- most of my experiences with God have been more in my mind than in my heart.  For the longest time I wondered if I really was a Christian because of my lack of emotional experience when it comes to faith.

But I keep keeping on.  When you can’t connect with God through emotions, you either have to find another way of connecting to God or you should just give up.

What has helped me is being able to have an imagination.  I can feel my faith, but I do know how to imagine my faith.  I’m thankful that I was introduced to C.S. Lewis and the land of Narnia as a kid.  Being able to imagine God is what keeps me a Christian.

When I write my book on Aspergers and faith, I’m going to call it The Clockwork Pastor: How An Android Pastor with Aspergers went to Church and became real.  I’ve said it before, but church has been the place where I learn to act as a human.  It’s where a robot can learn to at least mimic a human.

I’m thankful that God has called me to pastor a church.  I am thankful that I am learning how to care for those around me.  I may never be a “real boy” ala Pinnochio, but I am becoming an android that is learning to care for those around him.

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3 thoughts on “The Android in the Pulpit

  1. Dennis, don’t minimize who you are or who God created you to be. Just because you don’t have the same relationship with God others do doesn’t mean your relationship with Him isn’t just as rich or just as valid or valued by your Heavenly Father. Everyone connects with Him in a different way. It doesn’t mean you can’t talk with God, or write in a prayer journal, or spend time in nature appreciating His creation! It simply means you appreciate Him in a way that is uniquely yours.

    No one can pastor your flock the way you can – honestly and with your eyes. You are there for God’s purpose. Let the Holy Spirit guide you in your ministry. You are fully and completely human; your heart is as whole as God created it – fearfully and wonderfully made, for the work He purposed you to do before you were born. Build His kingdom joyfully, the way only you know how. 🙂

  2. Susan, I really don’t see him as minimizing himself or his world with this writing, although I do not know Dennis.

    BUT you’re words are an amazing support for more than Dennis. Thank you.

  3. Pingback: The Android in the Pulpit | First Christian Church of St. Paul

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