Wednesday, November 28, 2012

How's your resume lookin'?

I spoke to a friend and colleague today on the phone. He's been in ministry for a long time and has a lot of experience with pastoral planning and change. He's seen it all. He has a glancing knowledge of what's going on here in our area, and has done some work with our staff to help us get our house in order as we look to the future of collaboration. He called to check in on me today.
He asked me what I'll do if my job goes away, whether I (we) would be willing to move somewhere to take a good job, and how my resume's coming along. How's that for comforting?? He's right, though, we need to start having those conversations. I've been so concerned with what might happen in the next 6 months or year that I haven't really spent any time in prayer or thought about that 5-year future, and beyond. He offered this advice, as someone who's "been there-" he said, whether or not you know you'll have a job in the future, act as if you do. He was basically saying "be here, now."
Our staff met this week to look ahead and make some decisions for the future, and our pastor reminded us that we should not consider him as a variable in the decision-making process. That is, he doesn't know if he'll be with us here or not. The tricky part is, then, that we can't know if we'll be here or not. No matter what, it seems, it all will come down to who will be our pastor. If the new pastor likes what we've done, or isn't ambitious, or isn't concerned with (if you'll excuse me) peeing on the trees here, then he might leave things in their current state, support our work, encourage us to keep developing along our current track. But if someone comes along who thinks our faith formation model is bogus, or who has a beloved staff from his former parish who would be happy to work with him again, or who thinks that Youth Ministry is not a reasonable budget item, we'll have to hit the road.
So we wait, and try to read the signs, pray for discernment, try to be proactive, and live here, now.

Monday, November 12, 2012


   We present Generations of Faith sessions twice. Parishioners can attend a Friday night session starting with dinner at around 6, or Sunday afternoon starting with lunch around 12. This month our topic (in this year of prayer) was Thanksgiving.
   I had a hard time preparing for the parent session for this. I'd written and presented three different talks already that week, so my head was pretty well spent, but really, I was kind of stumped as to how I was going to teach about giving thanks to adults for 45 + minutes. Like Super Grover's Mommy and her wise words about fighting, I imagined myself saying to the crowd "be thankful" and leaving it at that.

   Anyway, on Friday night I went in to my wonderful parent group and started in. I'd already had a rough night and was blaming my performance on the tryptophan from the turkey we'd just had for dinner, or on Daylight Savings Time. The parents on Friday are SO wonderful- they go wherever I drag them to and are theologically thoughtful, willing to think about things in new ways, and (best of all) they laugh at all my jokes. I love working with this group and I think (hope) they can feel the amount of respect I have for them, their importance in their families and in the Church, and the hard work that their jobs entail.
   Well, this time around I did a pretty rough job with the topic, taking them around the block to get next door and apologizing and making jokes at my own expense as I went. They were great and patient and good-natured, and one parent even told me later that I'd given her some things to think about. I had to laugh because at the end, as I was handing out supplies for our closing prayer, one parent said "aw, you're too hard on yourself, I thought you really pulled it out there in the end."
   On Sunday, I re-wrote the whole lesson using a scripture story and did some lectio divina on Luke 17:11-19 and somehow managed to come around to the point that I'd tried to make on Friday. The Sunday parents are wonderful too, and I was so impressed by their willingness to look deeply at the scripture, to think about it in new ways, to consider different nuances to the story that they'd heard so many times. One parent said "I love how excited you get about this stuff!" and I consider that vindication for Friday's  flop.