Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Getting My Head on Straight and Pondering the Future

I spent several months coming to terms with resigning. And now that I have "un-resigned" I am feeling a bit disoriented. This weekend we had planned (I thought I'd be unemployed) a short trip to Minnesota, and we decided not to change the plans. On Saturday I'll be going with Kris and Daryl to Seed of Abraham, a messianic congregation, and later babysitting Trinity while her mommy and daddy take some time to themselves. If it works out, I'd like to connect with cyber buddies Ruth and Nightmnare. I hope this will all help me readjust a bit.

Welcome to Jubilee! Spring will come again!

Yesterday was a great day in that process. I drove through the countryside (and SUNSHINE--yee haw!) to a town near Stevens Point for a meeting. Yeah, I know. But this was a good meeting.

Our speaker, Mark Batterson, was one of the authors on the (now defunct) "Future AG" blog you might have seen in my links a while back. Future AG was designed as a place in the blogosphere for us to discuss our direction as we headed into our 2007 General Council.

Mark is one of the newer breed in the Assemblies of God. He's an author, energetic, articulate, intelligent, creative, and young. Listening to him makes me wish even more than ever that I had my 57-year-old wisdom (?) and experience but was in my 30s again! Man! How'd I get old so fast? I admit, I never thought I'd see the day when a guest speaker at an AG meeting dressed in faded blue jeans. We used to be pretty stuffy. That's changing, and that's a good thing.

It is exciting watching the new ways church is being done. Check out National Community Church where Mark is lead pastor. It's one church in several locations, and as I listened to Mark yesterday and then surfed around the church's website today--all I can say is, "I WANNA GO THERE!" We lived in Washington DC for several years when Ken was still in the USMC. I loved it-- and I hated it--but I'm so excited about the idea of church at Union Station! Their church is mosty 20-30 year olds. Think they will let me in if I visit? ;-)

What does this have to do with me? Well, as I focus, once again, on the future of my own congregation, I have to ask, "Can a church of under 100 in cow country really be relevant? Can we be creative? Can an AG church with a difficult history and that is over 30 years old find a new niche, and can a late middle aged woman pastor possibly reach out to a new generation? Won't our Catholic and Lutheran neighbors just be even more concerned about what is happening in that little church on the corner? Why am I still here?"

Of course, to ask myself those questions I have to stop whining, "How did I, a city girl, manage to turn into a small-town pastor? I'm too old, to tired, too ________. Why can't I be ministering to a diverse population? Wah, wah, wah..."

Yesterday got the creative part of my brain lighting up again. I'm feeling energized and enthusiastic. Hopeful. Kind of joyful.

Thanks, Mark! And thanks, God!

Just be sure to make a little room at the table for the 50-somethings (or more) among us who have young hearts and ideas. I'm so glad you like our new leader, George Wood, as much as I do. And I'm so excited about the AG's future if guys like you are at the center of the action.

As for me, I'm off to unpack my packed books and set up my office again.


LoieJ said...

You never know, you never know. There is a country Lutheran church only 6 miles from here that decided to cut loose from the main denomination. Somehow they called a pastor who also cut loose (but graduated from the same seminary as my daughter), who is from NY, NY. He seems like a great guy. Our pastor likes him. They are having multiple services each week. I haven't visited, so I don't know the whole story.

Could be that you are called to be a non-liturgical worship leader in a very traditional liturgical area. God's people need variety and I know that some of those other groups aren't providing it at times. [Although I do know that my S-I-L is a drummer in a praise band in the town starting with V.] The same Gospel lesson can be said in different words and wake up new ears.

Besides, the two groups you mentioned "tend" to be cradle to grave groups, with pastors who are chaplaincy orientated. The people in your midst who are totally non-churched might need to hear the Word from a different perspective.

God's Grace will show you....who knows what!

Dorcas (aka SingingOwl) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dorcas (aka SingingOwl) said...

PS, my Lutheran friend, you are such a blessing!


I sure hope one day we actually connect in a real physical space.

As for being non-liturgical in a mostly liturgical church area, well...yes. You are right. We already are that. Not that I don't occasionally get just a bit liturgical. ;-)

It is sad, because we all (churches) have different people we might reach, but our church has always been viewed with suspicion--many have called us a cult because someone said that, but they have no real knowledge of who we are.

However, perhaps it just means that since we are different than the usual church of the area, we might as well be really different.

And your comments on the earlier post were not too harsh. Just truthful. I'll try to respond a bit in a future post.

Still thinking about all of this.

Ruth said...

I'd *love* to find some time to get together this weekend, just not sure when that time would be. Email me and we'll "talk".

LoieJ said...

Well, SO, I'll be truthful again. I know that I have a sort of ingrained suspicion of "other" types of churches. Obviously, I'm somewhat open minded, and yet, and yet.... somehow I was taught that our way was "more right." (BTW, you can still find language to that effect on some of the denominational websites. And, of course, the other church is THE CHURCH, not a denomination.)

I don't know how much of that view of my church was ingrained by the church and how much by my mother.

But, still, I know that believers are the brothers and sisters of Christ, hence we are all brothers and sisters. But there is a big difference between embracing you as a Christian sister and leaving the church of many generations in a family and going to a new denomination. I can guess that some of the people "in your neighborhood" who might want to attend your church just to check it out would hear that pressure from family.

Well, even within Lutheranism there are people who practice the ritual of I'm-better-than-you. I found this out when I was first blogging and read a wide variety of Lutheran blogs of another type.

Maybe it is human nature or fear. Different is automatically wrong. Makes me realize how much Christ must have suffered when he died for all of those sins.

Dorcas (aka SingingOwl) said...

Ruth, I'll call you.

Sally said...

Prayers for your journey ahead, hope the unpacking goes well, and that creativity flows....

Mary Beth said...

I love your renewal, and this writing.

The gift and the glory for me in this blogging enterprise is getting to know people of such different backgrounds and worship practices as sisters & brothers in Christ FIRST and thinking of their "stripe" second or third or not at all. Except in terms of what I learn about them and me from the differences.

So glad you had a good and exciting meeting.

Dorcas (aka SingingOwl) said...

Thanks, Sally! Mary Beth, it is the "gift and the glory" (nice phrase) for me as well. Absoultuely. Think how we are learning to know and value one another, and in our regular lives it might not happen at all. We'd be in our seperate churches doing our seperate things, most likely.

PS, I think most of us are the same. OUR way is the correct one, after all, or we'd go elsewhere.

And you are doubtless correct about our "neighbors" but then we don't want someone who is happily growing in faith at their Lutheran church to come to our church. We want to reach people who are not connected and not sure about this Jesus thing anyway. :-)

More to work and then to visit the kiddos in Minneapolis.

Diane M. Roth said...

boy, singing owl, I would like to get together with you sometime and bend ears. I think p.s. has a point, but i'm also interested in what shall i call it? lutheran/pentecostal dialogue

Anonymous said...

unresigned? now there's a story to tell :)

Deb said...

Hey I'm in a church much like Mark's as an intern. I love it. I didn't realize that he was AG, though. That's interesting...

As far as being "old" and in a younger church... eh. I'll be 53. It's all in your mind. Do you want to engage your culture or run from it? That's the main thang I see as being important...

Peace in the journey...