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Posts Tagged ‘Ramblings’

Adrift…

There are times in my life that seem to extinguish my ability to write, sometimes even to speak.  I simply do not have “the words” to express much of anything.  I have plenty of thoughts but they somehow escape before I can speak or write them.  Additionally, much of that time I feel no need to speak or write.  I would like to take pictures.  Brave this cold weather and go out to the reserve and take pictures. 

It was strange, while we were in Colorado I failed to take my camera with me, even on those outings that just prior to leaving, I was thinking that it would be a great photo op.  Perhaps I didn’t want to experience the brooding that would enevitably come later on a cold day in my study looking at the world we’ll probably never live in again.

Usually I find that I’m okay with that.  You can’t “go home” because home has already changed.  Changed it has!  Places that were once fields are now parking lots and condominimums.  Places that used to be sort of grungy with plenty of character are shiny and new–looking like any other corner that has a Target, Chipotle, Movie Theatre, & Cold Stone Creamery. 

It makes me sad.  I remember when they cleaned up 42nd Street in NYC.  Some people were complaining because it lost its heart.  Instead of dirty raunchy strip clubs it was now host to Toys R’Us & Disney stores.  I visited 42nd Street after its extreme makeover.  I’d only seen the grimy bits in movies and television.  While I’m not a big fan of grimy bits, I empathize.  I love the “raw” side of things, how they show us reality and beauty all at once.  Sometimes the beauty isn’t apparent at first glance but once you come to know a little more about the place you understand, you can see it. 

It’s real from the start.  Whereas the shiny new cornerstores also harbor roaches and grime, you only see that after you’ve been there a while.  It’s still there, just covered with more expensive and prettier makeup.

I trust things that are more likely to be “pretty on the inside.”  I tend not to trust shiny things made of plastic.  I miss my Denver, my West Side, the old Manitou Springs with its grimy arcade and shady characters, the bikers, the hippies, the punk kids.  It’s retained some of that, but there were fewer bikers, I didn’t see any hippies, but thankfully the punk kids were still around.  That made me smile.

Long live the punk kids!

My good friend Rick told me that when Jesus said “be like a child” he wasn’t meaning the cute and charming child that we think of–the one with the sweet smile, pretty hair and innocent eyes.  No, Rick said that kids in the 1st century were sort of scary, more like street thugs.  More like punk kids?

I like thinking about that.  What does it mean if we’re supposed to be more like punk kids, rather than some cherubic child that doesn’t exist?  I haven’t figured it out yet, but maybe you could help me out.

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What a morning!

What a morning!  OMG, I totally goofed EVERYTHING up at the 2nd service!  I skipped the children’s service, skipped the 2nd hymn, got completely discombobulated during the sermon and lost my focus.  This is why we say the prayer of illumination–so that when I mess up, God’s word is still with us!  Thankfully it was mostly amusing and I poked a little fun at myself and everyone was very nice about it. 

I’ve been out of sorts ever since I came back from Kansas City.  My week was thrown off being gone for 3 days and it didn’t get back on track either.  It makes me nervous about taking an actual vacation.  Plus I have all kinds of charge conference paperwork to do with the committees and my own as well.  I look forward to having more a clue to what I’m doing with that. 

Thankfully we’re going to the pumpkin patch after lunch and we’ll have some family time that we haven’t had for a while.  That will be very nice. 

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Thank goodness it’s Friday!

Why do children have to be so very taxing?!?

I love my girls dearly but this mothering thing is hard!  Exhausting!  I know I am absolutely NOT alone in my frustrations, many parents feel this way from time to time.

Today is one of those days in which I feel like crawling back into bed and going back to sleep and hopefully in some way it would be like starting out all over but when I would wake up there would not be any children here to fight, argue, complain, kick their sister, etc.  And that would be LOVELY.

However, I can’t afford the time.  I’m afraid that even if I set my alarm for a mere 15 more minutes then I wouldn’t wake up until much later and I have people to see, places to go, etc.  

I shouldn’t even be complaining because I am due at a clergy Bible study where I can meet with others and discuss some of the difficult things that have gone on this week.  Listen to their stories.  I’m positive that it will be a very good and helpful for all of us there.

This week I have felt extremely blessed.  There have been some very difficult moments but in those moments God has been with me/us and that has made them beautiful, awe-filled moments. 

I’ve been on that verge of being sick–just feeling crummy and tired, losing my voice but I haven’t had to “call-in sick” and being clergy means that my time is far more flexible than if I had a regular job so I am feeling very thankful for that.  I guess I don’t need those extra 15 minutes in bed afterall.  I just needed to remember how very blessed I already am. 

Thanks be to God for all the wonder that fills my life each and every day!  Amen!

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Church Growth

Are all churches supposed to have 300+ members in them?  Why is it that if a church has around 100 (or less) people regularly attending that it is assumed that they are dying churches?

Some are dying but some people also like small churches.  Not for “sick’ reasons like needing a place to have power and control, but for the close-knit community.  Is that really a bad thing?

I’m not a person concerned with “saving souls.”  I just don’t see that as part of my job.  God saves souls–not me.  However, I do see myself as a harbinger of hope.  That’s my job–to point to Jesus, to create a place where people can have hope in Christ.  Hopefully a place where they can experience God’s grace.  That is what I understand my duty as pastor and Christian to be–harbinger of hope.

So what does that have to do with church growth?  Well, just like most evangelists who are into saving souls; I too want to offer this hope in Christ to the most people I possibly can.  I’m not opposed to church growth at all, however I do wonder if that should even be our goal. 

It seems that the books “out there” which have been reccomended for pastors in our conference to read have intros that brag about “we went into church X that had 50 people and when we left it was 500 and still growing exponentially.”  I would laugh at seminary when pastors on campus would announce similiar things in classes. 

As a new pastor at a church where attendence has surged with my coming I understand how that can be a big ego boost but I also understand that it’s not really about me.  I’m guessing that attendence will go back down at some point and I don’t think that will mean I’m a failure. 

I don’t think people who pastor small churches are necessarily failures.  If a person has a pattern of leaving churches considerably smaller than when they started then that’s worth looking into but it doesn’t neccessarily mean that the pastor is a failure.

I hope to pastor churches and bring new people in–leading them to grow in Christ, to lean on the hope that God has provided for us.  I want to share this hope and faith that I’ve found (or has found me) with everyone.  I think it would change our world for the better. 

I hope that I can help churches to become more active in their communities and understand that this activity comes directly out of their faith–it’s not another “have to” or “should” but a blessing they get to share with others.  I hope to offer support and hope to those both in and outside of my church when they come to me in need.  I also hope those in the church will take care of one another. 

But I don’t have hopes that these churches I get to pastor are huge–that they grow from 50 to 500 people.  I don’t want them grouped into little categories so that they can be with others who look and think just like themselves.  I think we grow most when we are with others unlike us, in diverse groups we have more opportunity to learn and communicate with one another.  Yes, this can be hard work but isn’t this what Jesus did?  Didn’t Jesus hang with the low-lifes and talk with the holy authorities?  Didn’t he attempt to bring them together?

Why can’t my success story read something like “When I first went to the church this is what they were doing, _____.  Before I left we moved beyond just _____ and began to ______, and this____.  We grew spiritually and also reached out to many others. 

Yes, I too would hope and expect that some of the numbers would rise.  It seems fitting that numerical growth comes out of doing the rest.  But I question that having numerical growth as our goal is a positive thing.  If we’re talking numbers doesn’t that diminish the soul, the person?

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