Psstt….Meet me at the well…..

Once when I was working as a Children’s Coordinator the pastor told me that I really needed to try to look bored more often….

Image

This was a great point in fact, because I love to be busy (I guess I’m in a good profession for that).

Image

The Pastor then told me the story of Jesus at the well. He told me to think about not only Jesus’ ministry of presence but also his ministry of waiting. There he was, waiting at the well, for someone who needed water to come….and thus a friendship was born.

Image4Now he had to go through Samaria.So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the townto buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”–John 4:

Hearing from the moderator today, he noted that he is making a point to be present (either himself or the vice moderator) at the committee meetings…a strong choice for presence, and one that echoed the hard questions given to him on the floor.

It took four votes to elect our moderator (the youth/seminary advisory board loved him). There seemed to be some dispute because he is abiding by the letter of the law regarding gay marriage, meanwhile his running mate signed a marriage license in her state during their campaign.His response to this was that he wasn’t going to put aside 10 years of friendship over a difference of opinion. i.e. part of being friends means being present for one another–choosing to be present even when our choices differ.

During the Hymn Sing at GA we sang “Go to the World” the final verse is

“Go into the world! Go as the ones I send, for I am with you ’til the age shall end, When all the hosts of glory cry Amen!”

What a friend we have in Jesus, who promises to be present no matter what we do.

So here I am, present at GA. On the one hand I’m not “Doing” much, I have little to no agenda about the meetings, and have not been commissioned, chosen or asked to do anything.

On the other hand, I am here, I am present. I am witnessing the work we are doing, praying for all of us who are doing it, and keeping my eyes and ears open for the Holy Spirit. I have waited, hoped, and possibly even made some new friends

Guess I made it to the well Pastor Kevin! (at least for GA)Image

 

Farmers, Markets and God

Well,

2 weeks in, and our Farmer’s Market is going fairly well. It is also very time intensive! Here we are in the middle of summer, and our stats stand as follows

 

Grand Opening over 200

Rainy, Rainy 2nd week 65

Overall, I think that we are doing pretty well–however as we begin this ministry of farming and marketing, I am trying to tease out the theology behind the market.
Why are we selling vegetables? What space does it provide the community? Should I be doing more “religious” looking stuff? Are we touching people–doe we get the word out? How is our advertising anyway? Do we have enough farmers (a lot of our vendors sell things other than vegetables)? What is growing out of this seed that is being planted (get it)?

You can tell there are a lot of questions….and yet, its exciting. It’s exciting to do something new, to see the church pull together, to actually have people want to come into our humble parking lot (which is apparently a lot less scary than the church building itself)…
So we’ll see what develops, in the meantime, I’m enjoying the adventure…..

Here is the Church, here is the steeple, open the doors…

ImageWe all say that the church is the people, that being said, my church spends more than half of its budget on the building. On the one hand, no one objects to the money that is needed to heat, repair and maintain our building. On the other, I’m rather uncomfortable with this use of our money.

demotivational poster CHURCH

If the church is about people, then we really shouldn’t be spending so much on the building. Having committed now to put forward 10% of the offerings we receive towards mission, I find this commitment both inspiring and sad. Are we really only putting 10% of our money in the community? Are we really going to worry about every dime we spend, or can we figure if we have the  money that means that God wants us to do it.

Image

I don’t know if I believe in balanced budgets or buildings. I do believe in fulfill our responsibilities though (i.e. paying contracts, keeping buildings safe, not overspending and blaming our lack of money on God or each other). I know that’s probably an auxi moron but there we go. I am also aware that my church provides important community space, but I also am aware that we are in the Landlord business–and I really don’t feel like this is the kind of ministry I wish to be doing….

Here’s what I do think.

I think we should be CHURCH BUILDING not just a church building. I think the church needs to be located at the center of the community, and if the people don’t come to us, we should follow Jesus’s example and go to where the people are.

So what should we do? Sell the building? Become nomads? Be more creative with our uses of space? Where are we the most church? How can we hit the streets more? I am especially struggling with this as many churches are closing and many church buildings are empty or for sale–and what really gets me is the community, those who live near the church and yet never attend it, sees this loss as sad. What is it with the associations we have with “the Church” as opposed or in conjunction with “the Church Building”

I am still struggling to find the answers to these questions. Anyone else have thoughts?????

The Feeding and Care of Pastors….

Pastors only work one day a week, and it’s a half day, Right????

I think my new thing is to ask for an budget for weekly exercise. I find it hard to find the time, energy and money to exercise. Yet if I sign up for a class I inevitably attend, enjoy it and ultimately get sick less, which is a win on all fronts…oh yeah, and to continue to ask for more staff–I always think we need more staff, because I am feeling overworked

In fact, I find in general that anytime I overwork, I get sick. It’s just the way my body works. Not eating or sleeping regularly? There’s no getting away with that….I just get sick, get an enforced day off, and am not happy while I’m at it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabbath

So that’s it, eat, sleep, and hopefully exercise. Contrary to popular belief pastors do not  work only half a day, its more of a on-call-and-thinking-about-your-job-24/7-type-of-career. When we say that we are called, we really mean it!

Maybe the confusion comes from the following facts

1) I love my job

2) I truly care about all those in my ministry

3)I have work-a-holic tendencies.

Add it all up and it means that when I’m working, I don’t always look to be hard at work. It is hard to separate my “work” self from my “home” self (maybe because they are almost the same thing), and I have trouble setting time aside for myself.

Take last week, Monday I worked all morning fielding phone calls for the Farmer’s Market Grand Opening, that afternoon and evening I prepped more stuff for the opening and wrote the bulletin. Tues Morning I ran our Mugs and Hugs Playgroup, immediately after lunch I came back to help to set up then I stayed until 6pm for the market. That night I worked on a bulletin for a funeral.

Wednesday I spent the morning home with the family (normally my open door office hrs), that afternoon I spent with a family for their visiting hrs at the funeral home. That night I finished the bulletin for the funeral.

Thursday I conducted a funeral and burial (at the graveyard), accompanied the family for lunch, that night I packed for a trip

Friday I travelled up to Silver Bay for a retreat of Presbytery (the governing board) and slept over. Sat I returned early due to babysitting difficulties (after the 2nd sitter called out with the stomach flu I gave up), Sat night I prepped for worship/Sunday School.

Sunday=Adult Sunday School and Agape Worship.

Image

Then there’s all the things I wanted to do: prepare more stuff for the farmer’s market, pick up signs from the shop, plot out my scripture passages for the next month, visit all the shut ins (this is esp. due because I’ve been sick), visit some of our community connections, foster relationships, pray more, oh and rest up since I’m on meds for laryngitis (remember how I said I get sick when I don’t take care of myself…well point made God), this doesn’t even include any of the personal stuff I wanted to do…

How do I resolve this? I think I need to set stronger boundaries, but I also need to train my congregation to take better care of me. I am the most likely to take care of myself if someone else reminds me to do so. My husband helps with this, but I still have a long ways to go to doing it “right”. Someday I’ll get the Jubilee right, in the meantime, I’ll strive to keep a better schedule…..Imagel

Does it bother you that….

How many of you have been married by an online licensed minister? I know of a couple who got married by a justice of the peace and then had a friend of theirs to officiate a fake wedding–but the guest thought he was real clergy (the friend thought everyone knew he was only the MC). I sometimes get asked whether I mind that people don’t come to church to get married anymore. Or if I minded the online certificates of ministry.

Image

In light of this fact I recently got asked to do a member’s funeral. The family is not a church going one, and my guess is that the lady (who died of Alzheimer’s) connection to the church was a loose one, but I have a philosophy about funerals. Always say yes or refer to another minister. I’m sure there is a rare exception to this rule, but funerals are one of the few times that pastoral care is most requested/wanted/sought after.

So after giving up my day off, meeting with the family, writing a complete service, standing with the family for half of the visiting hrs, conducting a funeral, burial and being present for the refreshments– I collected my $125 (which amounted to at most $6 an hr for all the work I did) and knew that I had done good work. By the end of the three day marathon I felt I really knew the lady and her family pretty well, and they had a better understanding of me, what church can be, and most importantly God.

So back to the question, do I envy that people can get weddings online, not really. It makes me sad sometimes, because when I do a wedding, I really work at it, I meet with the couple multiple times, I try to give them resources and helps not only for now but for the future, I pray for that couple and try to make the service a testament to both their and God’s love, and no internet license can do that….

 

plus, I don’t see anyone lining up to do funerals…..Image

ps I have yet to see a cartoon about a wedding or funeral where the pastor is female….