Friday, February 13, 2009

Frustration . . .

Have you ever had one of those weeks where you feel as if you are being pulled from every single side . . . this is where I have been this week and it ain't fun.
In my last call I served as an AP . . . before the church moved to the Senior Pastor/ AP model they tried the Co-Pastor model . . . it didn't work out . . . from everyting I have read and heard they rarely do, but I think most of this is because they are entered into for the wrong reasons . . . I know this was true in this former situation . . . although they called this pastor the Co-Pastor he was an AP . . . by calling him as the Co-Pastor they avoided the search process. RABBIT TRAIL . . . anyway, I never met him, but someone in the congregation told me that one of their problems with him was that he always felt tomorrow was another day . . . now, at first blush I couldn't see what was wrong with this . . . that is until the person continued, 'he was putting in enough hours as he always thought there would be time tomorrow.'
But you know what . . . I think I must think like that member of the congregation . . . and this, ultimately is what leads to my frustration . . . I can talk the talk, but I don't walk the walk . . . yes, I can talk about wanting to be more like Mary . . . sitting at the feet of Jesus . . . heck, I even used that image today in the prayer I offered after Women's Bible Study -- which, by the way, I did on my day off . . . but to be honest they changed it to Friday as I was going to be out of town for a church thing, but I am Martha . . . I want to be Mary.
It's Friday night . . . moving onto midnight . . . tomorrow I will be working on policy . . . something coming form a committee I chair . . . three people were working on it and when I received the copy of it tonight I was FRUSTRATED so started on revisions . . . I will also begin planning Ash Wednesday services that will lead into a study of the spiritual disciplines during Lent.
As I leave let me share a poem with you that I found on line at AgentOrange -- a strange place to find a beautiful poem that describes the journey through Lent that I want to be able to take this year . . .
winter's like an inside wilderness:
it's broken branches and creaking bones;
it's like a fast from light and heat, a cold retreat.
it's not just beyond the body walls:
there is an inside frozenness, too;
a winter of the heart and soul, dark-cold as coal.
the inner wild is evil-laden,
filled with devils and bright temptation;
marked by love of self and pride, the us we hide.
but there is a way that leads to life:
a lenten journey from dark to light;
a passion path through days of lent and winter spent.

My prayer for Lent is that I learn to slow down . . . to learn to be as the title of a book reads, "A Mary in a Martha World" . . .

What is your prayer for Lent?


Sunday, February 1, 2009

The congregation I partner with has been involved . . . or we say we have, in a process of intentional transformation. I say "we say we have" as I haven't seen any real commitment on the part of the congregation . . . we said we were . . . more than 1/2 the congregation signed a commitment for openness to transformation when we began working with an internationally known consultant in church transformation over 18 months ago . . . but I had begun to wonder if we were only giving lip service to being open to the Holy Spirit working in and through us to capture this new thing God is wanting to do here . . . to use this church in building the Kingdom by reaching out into our community with the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
As I wrestled with this, I realized that I was judging the congregation while not really looking at myself . . . I spend about two months in prayer and reflection asking God how I needed to be opened to the Holy Spirit so to be in a better position to help lead God's people through this process . . . in the process, I was lead to an unlikely book of the Bible (Nehemiah) and to Andy Stanley's book on visioning.
I have spent the better part of three months now kind of engrossed in Nehemiah -- three weeks ago I began preaching a series on The Building Blocks of Vision (much of the credit here goes to Stanley), provided the Session a Bible study on what it means to be spiritual leaders based on Nehemiah, and am in the middle of planning a Visioning Retreat for the Session and congregation as we seek God's vision for this church.
You see I had forgotten the first key to transformational ministry -- it begins with the individual, even, and perhaps most importantly, the pastor allowing herself to be transformed by the Holy Spirit . . . Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2
I don't know where this process of transformational ministry will lead this particular congregation . . . I pray that we will continue to go deeper and further with Jesus . . . there are signs that many of us are on the way . . .