Tag Archives: Ministry

Are you sure about that?

People are generally nice to you when you’re doing Pulpit Supply.  You come in and they’re polite, they hand you a cheque and then you leave after doing my thing. Because I’ve been doing some places quite regularly people think they know me.

In some ways they’re right, they do know me.  I come in and do the service and quite often stay for coffee.  They say they like my energy and enthusiasm for the future.  They say they are excited when I say there is hope.  They love my little boy as he brings life to the party.  It’s like our family is the poster child for the family they want to attract.

It sounds nice, right?  It is.  I appreciate that they don’t hate me.  The thing is I’m not really sure how they would feel if I were actually their minister.  I have energy and hope for the future but I know how much work is required to make the future happen.  I believe that great things are possible but they require faith, work and dedication.  I believe in listening to God and changing what isn’t working.  If I were actually their minister I would expect things.  I’m not sure they would like it if they had someone expecting things.

Isn’t this always the way?  We love listening to people on TV.  We love when our politicians speak about great change and new ideas.  We delight in gurus telling us our lives can be different.  But when push comes to shove we don’t want to change.  Usually we like things just the way they are.

I don’t like things the way they are.  I’m unsettled and uncomfortable with the road we’re walking.  Right now I have the ability to speak the truth about how I feel without worrying about a job.  It’s freeing.

I like this but I do wonder how people would react if they were stuck with me full time.  Would people continue to like me?  I suspect some would and some wouldn’t and I’m actually ok with that.

A person’s a person…

“A person’s a person, no matter how small.” – Dr. Seuss, Horton Hears a Who

I’ve been thinking a lot about little people lately.  How they learn and grow.  How they discover the world around them. What exactly makes them tick. This shouldn’t surprise anyone as I have a little person around me constantly. He loves texture and sensation. He wants to feel everything. He pulls things apart, puts them back together and then starts all over again. He wants to feel the world. He wants to be part of things.

This type of existing that is so common in toddlers and even young children is not really reflective of our worship style or faith experience {in my denomination anyways}. We expect kids to sit and listen. To be quiet. To behave. There isn’t a lot of room to move around. There’s isn’t a lot they can dig into. They’re expected to be tiny adults.

I worry about my son. How he will experience God as he grows and where he will learn about faith.  How will he experience the spirit?  Will he feel he has a place in all of it? Right now there aren’t many places left in my ‘church’ to do that. There are congregations that still have Sunday Schools but numbers are dwindling and programs are disappearing. Of all the programs in a church, the Children’s programs are often the first to go. We think that we’ll start them up again when we have kids but kids don’t come, families don’t appear because there isn’t anything for them.  It’s a vicious cycle.  It’s a frightening prospect.  In our efforts to save money/energy/time we’ve neglected the most important people in our church.  We’ve forgotten that they are the key to the future. We’ve forgotten how much they can teach us.

Jesus said, “…Let the children alone, don’t prevent them from coming to me. God’s kingdom is made up of people like these.” After laying hands on them, he left.” Matthew 19: 14-15

My son’s life is filled with texture and boldness.  He wants to experience and be part of everything around him. He loves music and sound. He has moments of great joy and also of sorrow. He feels everything intensely and is willing to share in your feelings as well.

If his life is so rich with colour, texture, emotion and expression and God’s kingdom is filled with people like him, should we not have more colour, texture, emotion and expression in our services and communities?  Should we not have programs that cater to young children and their families? Should we not want to learn from them how to live, worship and love?

We cannot do that the way things stand.  When we focus worship around what makes us comfortable and relegate children to the side as observers we’re missing out on a huge part of the experience God wants for us.  We cannot take ourselves too seriously.  God wants us to be fully engaged and as adults it’s natural for us to withdraw and hide a part of ourselves.  We need to learn from the children.  We must discover what it’s like to be a child again.

I worry about my son. He has needs and has a right to experience God in his own way.  There should be a place where he can go to make those discoveries and have fun while doing it. Children matter.  They are important.  They are the future.

Into the streets…

This week I heard a story {in this video actually} about Priests going out into the streets to offer ashes to people on Ash Wednesday instead of expecting them to come in the door.  The priests had marvelous connections with people who otherwise would never engage in worship as they had bad memories and connections with typical Churches.  These priests were able to meet people in their environment, at their comfort level and offer them a connection with community and God that they might have been missing.

As I study the life of Jesus I see this happen in his ministry as well.  So much of what is remembered from his teaching happened outside the doors of the synagogue or the temple.  He went into peoples homes, met them on the street and entered their lives as he shared the message with them.  He was able to connect with them in a way that meant something to them.

I wonder if this is why we are held back as a community of faith today.  We desire to own ministers and places.  We need to have people belong and conform.  We remember worship that is precise and orderly.  Our need to perform this ritual as we have always known it might be preventing us from sharing the message.

Perhaps if we took the ritual into the streets we might find out what is needed in our communities and meet the people we are seeking.  We might find new ways to share the message and live it in our time.  It might be time for us to head into the streets and see where God takes us.