Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Challenging Complacency

I found out recently that it really is true what they say about the internet - never put anything on there that you don't want someone to read, or read in the future. So, I've tried to keep the embarrassing college photos off facebook! I can't control all the crazy people I went to college with, though.

Anyway, I was meeting some people from my new church (so new that I won't be their pastor for another 2+ months). One of them said, "I read your blog, the letter to the Bishop." Outwardly, I responded, "Oh, really?" Inwardly, I was "Oh, crap!" It turns out he was impressed with the letter (Whew!) - more impressed, actually, than the "Bish" himself.

That event inspired me to return to "persisting." I started this thing as an effort to express myself in light of some of the changes within my Annual Conference, as a way of resisting the change. I later realized that I would be better served to persist in defining myself, writing in answer to the question in the tagline: In what will I persist, no matter the place, no matter the time, no matter the circumstance?

Persisting is always better than resisting. Persisting is better because it helps you stay on course. In pastoral ministry, there's always things that draw you away from what is most important. Admittedly, what is "most important" may change from church to church, or from time to time in one's tenure. If you persist in what you determine to be God's direction for you, then you will be more honest, more open to God, and a better leader.

An example: At my current church, I (along with my wife) discerned that God was calling us to do something for the teenagers of our community. They were lost, confused, lacked healthy adult influence and spiritual direction. We also believed that by working with and through the kids, we might open doors to reach the parents. All signs indicated that my church could be convinced to join with us.

After a year and a half of this venture - youthspace - we've had varying success. Some kids have found a church home, and more importantly a Savior. Their parents haven't. We've learned that most of these parents are so overwhelmed by poverty, drugs, general "Jerry Springerish" drama, that they've pretty much opted out of a lot that has to do with their kids. The church turned out to be more alarmed by the presence of "out of control" kids than we predicted. It is astounding how much most of these kids didn't know (We gave many of them their first Bible, and their first Communion).

Because it didn't meet with outstanding success, because it didn't change the community, or change the church's relationship with the community, is it a failure? Were we wrong? Did we hear God wrong? The answer to all questions is "No." We did something. We were not satisfied with the status quo. We tried!

That all leads me to say this: I will always persist in challenging complacency.

There is always more to do, always something new to do, in ministry. That's because God is always more than we can concieve! God is always creating something new!

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous1:35 PM

    Love this Earl. And you never know what kind of see you have planted...that's what I try to remember. May take root in 5 minutes, or in 20 years, but hopefully, in God's timing, these young people AND their parents, and your church will remember the effort and seeds planted way after you've moved on to another congregation! i truly believe that!
    Your sister Laura <><