Ex-pastor Dan Taylor finds new way to serve calling

· The Pulse

Dan Taylor's decision to retire from Christian ministry wasn't about a crisis of faith or a personal scandal, despite the way leaving this kind of position often goes.

"It's weird that you leave a job and have to tell people that you still love your wife," Taylor told Taproot. "Most people, when they leave (for example) EPCOR, don't have to do that."

Taylor was an evangelical minister for nearly 20 years. In Edmonton, he served at Disciples Church from 2011 to 2019 and Gateway Alliance Church from 2021 to 2022.

If you didn't go to his church, you may know him as a standup comedian. He was named Edmonton's top comic in 2014 in a Sirius XM competition, and he has performed at the Winnipeg Comedy Festival as well as local festivals and the usual places where comedians ply their trade, including bars and podcasts.

It wasn't incongruity between Christianity and comedy that drove him from the church, nor was it some major upheaval. Rather, it was about the job not matching his personal mission.

"The frustration of feeling like the job that I did feel called to, and the career that I was good at … That's not really what churches are after these days — certainly not churches that can afford to pay you a living wage," he said.

He has just started working as a youth liaison on the neighbourhood empowerment team at The Family Centre.

Dan Taylor takes a self-portrait in front of a mirror, wearing a pale blue button-down shirt, blue pants with white pinstripes, and clean Adidas sneakers

Former pastor Dan Taylor has been documenting his post-church life on Instagram, including the outfits he wears to his new job with The Family Centre. (Supplied)

His view of being a church leader aligns with a paraphrase from Jeremiah 29:7. "Seeking the peace and well-being of our cities, and teaching the Bible," he explained. But the corporatization of church work was a key source of disillusionment.

"I don't do this lightly, or without regret, or a massive amount of fear at what the future will hold, but it's time for me to be done," he wrote in his retirement message. "The accumulation of injuries I've incurred in 20 years of ministry and 45 years of life in churches have made it necessary to move on. I still love Jesus and I still love the Bible, and I'm deeply committed to my marriage and my children, but honouring those loves and those commitments means my relationship with the Church has to end for a while."

Those injuries, he said, are "a little bit of a joke" — a nod to how athletes, who also retire relatively young, talk about their decision. "But I had a ministry career that ended up in some pretty unhealthy places, unhealthy organizationally and unhealthy personally," he said. "So when I'm talking about the accumulation of injuries, it is a lot of interpersonal connection, a long time of being chronically underpaid, and a long time of dealing with institutions that are not what I feel that we've been called to be."

Taylor's standup career has been on hiatus since the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic, though he says he will venture back out eventually. In the meantime, he's keen to fulfill his personal mission with The Family Centre.

"I'm still learning what (my job) actually is," he said. "I'll be connecting with youth and neighbourhoods and community leagues and different community agencies to try and hopefully do what I used to want to do, which was seek the peace and well-being of the city."