Tuesday, August 30, 2011

the confusion i feel... maybe its time to cross this line

i have not felt motivated to write lately, like at all. even my twitter account has sat mostly dormant over the last few weeks. i am not sure why i don't feel like writing, i just don't. part of it may have to do with a general feeling of frustration i have felt for a little while.

many people know that i have been actively looking to re-enter into full time ministry. i have been on a sabbatical, for lack of a better description, for about two years now. i have been doing a lot of self-examination, exploring, seeking wise counsel, praying, reading and the like. i have had the chance to really look at who i am, and to explore what God has made me for. through this process i have looked at a variety of options going forward. i have looked at changing careers completely, furthering my education, changing directions within ministry, and other options. i have come through this time with a strong calling to return to ministry full time. i have this overwhelming sense that God has designed me, packed me if you will in a specific way in order for Him to use me in ministry.

because of this, i have been actively searching for the place God has for myself and my family as we begin this next phase of the journey. i will say this process has been one of challenges, difficulties, revelations, growth, development, frustration. the word i would use to describe a large part of this process would be disappointment. it has been through this process that i have grown unnervingly disappointed with many churches. through a little "research" by reading other blogs and hearing stories of other people seeking to enter into ministry in a church setting, much like i am, my stories and experiences in this process are not unique. which is unbelievably disappointing and frustrating.

the one major thing that stands out to me in this process from many, many, not all, but many churches is a complete lack of respect and decency towards those people inquiring about ministry opportunities at those churches. flat out ignoring attempts at contact and communication. flat out lying about plans to contact me. telling me that you will be getting back to me and then never doing so. replying to my resume submission with a letter 2 months later saying "thank you for applying for __________ position, we have decided not to move forward with you but it was a pleasure to meet you, speak with and get to know you." meet me? speak with me? get to know you? this is the first exchange we have had! pay attention!

am i wrong for thinking that churches, CHURCHES!, of all places should be a little more respectful, honest and forthright in their processes? is that really to much to ask. the benefit in all this, is based on the lack of respect and decency it affirms for me my desire to not be a part of those churches and rather to seek my place where God wants me. i know that God has a plan and purpose for my life and it is there that i long to be.


Sunday, May 8, 2011

standing on this hillside...

so the title of this creative outlet, "Whats Expected of Me" is a bit of a play on the fact that at this point in my life, i have reached a point where most people who know me, think they know me. i have presented who i am, but there are some aspects about who i am that don't come out all that often. one side of that is a through some writing. i know, that saying that on a written blog sounds weird, but the writing i am talking about is a more creative, poetic style, one that i have had flow through me for most of my life, its something that comes out when i feel like i am not able to express clearly how i am responding to something, typically its out of a place of feeling stuck, or trapped. sometimes is a response from how i have progress through that feeling, other times its from the midst of that feeling. anyway, this is something that i just had come out of me, its not meant for anything other then to maybe give a glimpse into where i am at right now...

Standing on the crest of the hill, over looking it all.
A young man, but only in his hopes and dreams
In the deep lines that spread from his eyes
He was clearly not a young man, not anymore.

Filled with so many questions,
It seemed so long since he was permitted to ask.
Still struggles if he has earned the right to speak up
The indications are so strongly suggesting, no.

Time, its time to come down from the hill.
Its clearly time.
The opportunity to just stand there could not last.
Things have to move on, with or without him.
The climb back down feels more like a tumble.

These lines, this lesson,
The words spoken or never spoken, but shared,
All helping him see, helping him know,
Its not about his time on that hill.
Its about his journey back down.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

authentic, nah, its easier to fake it

its been about two years since i left a full time ministry position. its been about two years since i have had to fake it. yes, that's right, i said that out loud. its not something i was aware of in the moment, and i would have never said i was faking it during that time. but i know now that i was indeed faking it. i was not being authentic, i was not "keeping it real" as the kids say on the street (for the record, i am not sure what the kids say on the street, i am decidedly less then hip)

a little background, i was a student pastor for about 10 years at two different churches. i worked in a mainline denomination church, both with a distinct identity for the congregation. one was clearly mission based, service based, had a heart for community both locally and globally. the other was a church that embraced its sacred music, the church took great pride in its choirs, its hand bells, even its pipe organ. i started young, i didn't really know what i was doing, i just tried hard to make a connection to the students, and i tried hard to make parents happy. i worked with leadership that had some profound effects on who i am today, both positive and negative. i was able to learn about myself, but not in the moment.

you see the problem was i spent a lot of my energy and a lot of my time just trying to make the right people happy. when i had conviction, when i had something that i believed in, i was usually not able to convey it because it went against the status quo. i was stuck. i was not following the leading of the Holy Spirit, i was not doing what God had for me. i was faking it. i had this sense inside me that there was more.

i was stuck, i found myself at a place where i was doing "ministry" and doing it effectively, but i felt lost. i felt like i was spinning my wheels. it was time to stop. it was time to step back from it all and really seek God's will, seek his leading. i needed to look at how God packed me, made me, see how as a unique creation i was allowing God to work in, with and through me.

i have spent the last two years doing that. i have had a chance to take time for personal spiritual growth, to lead a small group, to be involved in other aspects of church life that i was not able to be involved in as a student pastor. and i have learned so much, so much about how i was viewing myself, and more importantly, how i was viewing my God.

i know more clearly how God has built me, i am more aware of my own personal gifts, talents and abilities. i am seeking a better understanding of the way the Holy Spirit works through me and what my spiritualities are. i am knowing spending my time seeking God's plan, his will for my life and for my family. and i am more comfortable then i have ever been in my understanding of who i am.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

won't do me no good washing in the river, can't no preacher man save my soul

i am here taking a moment to enjoy a cup of coffee, listening to The Civil Wars outstanding album, Barton Hollow, (thanks kyle). lately i have been thinking more and more about the role of pastors in churches. whats odd is that the topic seems to have presented itself to me, its not something i brought up myself. i have had several readings, podcasts, blog posts, articles all seem to "fall into my lap" on the subject. its those kind of things that are hard to ignore. i can can pretend like this one article was "interesting but who cares" and this blog post "is probably important for someone to read" but when its several of them, all at once, from many different directions, well, God, you have my attention.

i have been thinking about churches, and what the purpose of them is, how they function, what is the need being met for individuals, for communities, for the collective church congregation, for the world both near to us and across the world? its pretty accepted that the "mega-church" model is not the ideal model, and most of the mega-churches have found issues with building community and developing disciples because of a disconnect with in the congregation. many of these churches have seen the value in getting people into smaller community groups/small groups/accountability groups whatever you want to call them. i know for myself, the small group is very valuable. i attend a church with an average attendance of about 1200-1300 each week. that is pretty large, but its not overwhelming. i also believe that the leadership in place have done a good job of creating an environment and attitude of welcoming and openness.

i think that as churches have grown we have seen a shift in the role of a pastor. some of it is good, but a lot is not. the pastors are forced to take on a level of "business" that to me seems to be a big distraction. part of the problem is that like with just about everything, financial issues are present. and it falls on pastors to have to deal with them. for many larger churches there are other people involved in the financial areas. we also have the fact that for many of these large churches, they for better or worse have huge buildings to deal with. there are many issues that come into play; making the best use of the space, using it in the proper way to benefit the community but also make sure the building stays in good shape and on and on.

pastors need to be able to focus on discipleship. that is the conclusion that i have come to. that needs to be one of the main focus points. the fact is that this is a generation, a place in time, where the focus is no longer what can i (a member of the congregation) do for my church, but rather what can the church do for me. i think we have lost it, the point. we have forgotten, gotten away from the idea that as a follower of Christ we are called to serve. we are no longer focused on ourselves. there are to many responsibilities that we need to be taking on within our church communities that are being left to staff, to pastors. to many of us have no idea what it means to be disciples anymore. i fear that we see "being a disciple" as something that isn't possible, its only for people who were directly connected to Jesus when he walked on earth. well, the fact is, as a believer, as a follower of Jesus, we are directly connected.

i am someone very intrigued by the rise of the home church movement. i see so much good that comes out of the community that is built in that, so much that can happen when people are committed to each other because they are committed to Jesus. that is what a small group is to me. that is why i enjoy it so much. i look forward to the journey the American church is on, i firmly believe that we, the American church, are on the cusp of a revival. i look forward to it...


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

hear my cry...

Psalm 88:1 Lord, you are the God who saves me; day and night I cry out to you. 2 May my prayer come before you; turn your ear to my cry.

its so easy to get frustrated sometimes with where we are in life. i am someone who has been on a search, a journey over the last couple of years. i have been seeking to get past me, to get over myself. one of the things i have learned about myself, and about my time in ministry was that i was driven at times, more by ego then by my passion to serve, or to see lives changed. i made it about myself to often. i have had a chance to realize that i was getting in the way of God. i hate it. i hate that it has taken me so long to see it. i hate that it may have had an impact on how other people who i have had an influence on have developed their own relationships with God.

i have also realized that i need to fully sacrifice myself on the altar, and allow God to work through me, and to get out of the way. its not about me, i can not forget that.

i am now finding that i need to wait, to listen to the still small voice and trust God to be in control of this whole life. my very, very human-ness makes that a challenge. but i know that i want God to be in control. i cry out to Him to take over, to work in me and to work through me, and to use me. not my will, but His. and now... i wait.

Psalm 40

1 I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.

2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.

3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him.

4 Blessed are those
who make the Lord their trust,
who do not look to the proud,
to those who turn aside to false gods.

5 Many, Lord my God,
are the wonders you have done,
the things you planned for us.
None can compare with you;
were I to speak and tell of your deeds,
they would be too many to declare.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

and my head told my heart 'let love grow'

i have spent a lot of my music listening time over the last several weeks engrossed in the album Sigh No More from the british band Mumford and Sons.

i have always been someone who can be taken to a place where i feel very close to God through music. and while Mumford and Sons are not a worship band, to me, their music is some of the most worshipful to me right now. they make music that is filled with passion, true emotion, a blend of hope and heartache that is genuine to me. so much "art" is made for other people, but to me, the best art is made for the artist. when the artist is not desiring to reach anyone, but rather are pouring themselves out for their own benefit, that is when the best art is made.

the album may not be for everyone, and there is at least one track that some Christian audiences would gasp at if i told them it was the most worshipful album i am listening to right now. but music has this ability to connect to people on a level that absolutely nothing else can. there is no way to explain why a child will intuitively dance to music without ever being shown what it is to dance. music reaches our soul, we don't have the same defenses to music as we do to empty speeches or hurtful language. we let music in when we block everything else out. that is what makes it so personal, and in turn, so beautiful.