Wednesday, July 20, 2011
What I'm Missing........
I'm really missing some things in this period of writing, resting, and am incredibly excited about leading some family ministry next Thursday. If you are going to be there, please come along with and say "hi!" here.
I'm actually champing at the bit now to get back into spearheading some things in the local church and to teach and to look after the younger ones within the context of the whole church family. I was talking with my denominational ministry advisor about this; I don't think it's been because I feel I am missing out, like I'm on the shelf; it's because the call to do so has been reinforced and strengthened in a way I didn't expect.
Here are some of the things I am missing - they are not in any particular order of importance - I'm missing them all!
- facilitating worship with kids and with the kids' leaders week by week; watching them go from kicking and annoying each other, to dance, to kneel on the floor; to pray freely out loud, to respond in so many ways. I love teaching them about worship; I think because it is an important value to me and Mr HIWWC, it rubs off on those younger than us. All credit to God for that - he has saved me, cleansed me from the past and filled me with joy that almost any time I feel miserable find it difficult to ignore the deep down bubbly joy and gratitude that wants to make its way out to the surface.
- planning and leading all age services where we unpack something MEATY from God's word; over the past few years we looked at "chesed" (his lovingkindness), the gifts of the Spirit, healing, the centrality of the Word, the Micah challenge, the father heart of God....I am missing seeing children and teenagers take part in the service - a memorable Bible Quiz with two teenagers against the seemingly unbeatable Senior Pastor. and I am missing God Rods moving the congregation to tears (you'd need to ask me if you see me, if you dont know what these are!).
- I'm missing being able to facilitate the children moving on in prayer - praying with adults, praying for their friends at school, shouting out prayers of victory loudly in the hall time! I have to underline something I said before - I might start it off but then I stand back - God has totally exceeded anything I saw before or expected - I'm sitting in a congregation and not having any part over what I see could so easily just be launched. Set some boundaries (this can take a while if behaviour has been challenging), teach "how to", walk in expectation and then let them go.
- I'm REALLY missing my teams. I had some great, great, great people who were loyal, loving, committed, open to change (which I undoubtedly brought) and open to challenges. Glad to see such a calibre of people showing same in the church we are visiting. Pastors and leaders - your youth and childrens leaders are most often of the highest quality and mainly unseen, because they are not at the front playing an instrument or at the door welcoming. Please, please value them and listen to them - to listen to them you have to first ask them what's on their mind. A common mistake is to chase more after the people who are leaving your church than those who are its future. Jesus let the rich young ruler walk away....different context I know....but he let someone walk away from him who he no doubt cared for hugely ** CONTROVERSIAL BIT OVER
- I'm missing the children. I haven't been able to type this before now but in as many weeks five boys who I have seen in non-church contexts have told me how much they miss me, and have been quite emphatic in stating it, which as you know isn't typical "boy" behaviour. Three of them were senior primary! I can only put this down to the fact that I love them and was so so committed to their well-being and they knew it. I'm missing especially the dozen or so teenagers who supplemented the teams, because I loved seeing them and talking to them, as this wasn't something I usually did - we had a youth pastor who worked with the teens.
Teenagers have been my area of "expertise" professionally as well as as a volunteer in church life for a couple of decades now. One thing I really liked about the church I left was that quite a lot of the teenagers helped at the holiday club or on Sundays. This year had been a year of so much change in the church's life; I would really liked to have built on last year's holiday club which had a FAB team of leaders and esp teenagers - nothing like a bit of service within a well-structured team to build faith and confidence.
- I'm missing parents hugely. In education you learn (the hard way sometimes) to work in partnership with parents. I'll go so far as to say that its one of the keys to successful youth or children's ministry. That's one of the buzzword phrases for both primary and secondary (I was in secondary ed) and I know it was one of my most effective areas in the two churches I have ministered in. I did bring challenges to parents, I know that, and I had to live them out myself before I issued these challenges to others, but I genuinely cared for the parents and even as I type this, 3 months on, person after person is coming to mind that I can't quite forget yet. There were so many children there that I so desperately needed assistance and I struggle with thinking that I didn't do as much as I could, but I know I loved and prayed and saw quite a number of new committments. These parents occupy a special place for me, I am missing them a lot and do think most weeks: "I wonder how they're doing".....
- I'm missing praying with people - this is fellow staff, children, kids team, parents - anyone in the congregation following the preaching of God's word or in coffee meet-ups or home visits. I love getting alongside someone, listening as best I can and then tuning in to what God is saying. Fortunately we have been surrounded with good friends who we have prayed with and vice versa over these last 3 months and have done some good praying with people times in cafes etc! But I'm missing offering pastoral support and weeping alongside people. Does that make me needy? I hope not.
- I'm missing the kids discipleship group - the people in it, my assistant leader Ruth, and the actual physical time we had all together. Over the last three years this has been one of my hugely enjoyable highlights of the week, as it was in my last church. God really met with these 10, 11 and 12 year olds. We'd been moving into a more missional model of a group with Pray for Scotland's "Pray For Five". The last time we met on 6 April there was such an outpouring of power. Mr HIWWC was playing guitar quietly, singing nothing, I was standing with my back to the wall, having come to the end of six months of teaching and discussing stuff - we just watched in amazement as the girls prayed and prophesied over one another and the BOYS DID THE SAME amongst each other. By now we'd have had a residential weekend away, which was probably always my highlight of the year......
- I'm missing preaching/teaching. The church I was part of had given me some opportunities to do this a little more and I really loved it. I also did some hands-on teaching to children - as Martin Luther said in a post a few days ago, it's pretty good to be able to keep your skills up there! - and to teach team and in larger gatherings, like my annual vision day. These things to wider groups have continued - I have quite a few things on in the autumn - but there is nothing like the local church, where you are known and you know and care for the flock in front of you.
- I'm missing visiting people at home or over a coffee to chat and spend time I'm not a huge fan of emails for pastoral care or communication. To be frank, they don't really do it. People don't remember emails, but they do remember when you sat with them in Starbucks to run through a plan or a vision, or sat with them and let tears fill your eyes alongside them. They remember you popping into see their child in hospital or you coming round when they hadn't been at church for a few weeks. I saw a lot of people behind the scenes and I am really missing that. I'm just a peopley person and generally find it hard to sit at a computer for long times. I've been able to see more of the schools mums I am pally with, so that's a bonus of this time.
- I'm missing being part of a team massively. I dont work well on my own. I need to have people to bounce things off, who will listen to me as I listen to them. However sad I was at times over the last year, there were a lot of laughs. Porridge. Chocolate. Plastic fish. Hot and cold radiators. Onesies. Laminators. Same things in my pstoral employment before that (particularly about Jack Bauer) and in the staffroom of secondary school - the sand garden after stressful lessons is a particularly warm memory.
There are many things I'm not missing of course and there are many things I am still experiencing and enjoying no matter where I am, because of my relationship with God - I love worship services, I love hearing what God wants to say to me week by week, I love hearing the testimonies of lives changed, I love being loved and we have felt such love and acceptance from the churches we've been in during ths period (4 altogether - one was in Cornwall and one was my first place of employment - they cheered for us this week during the service, embarrassing - but so lovely and very moving - we left three years ago).
We have so much to be grateful for. My testimony of these three months is of the incredible tenderness of God in his dealings with me and through very painful emotions.
I want to be back in local church ministry so I am calling out to God along the lines of the things I wrote in previous entries***. It's OK to do that, to talk detail with him and to express honest emotions, dreams and desires, all within the context of his love for me and his promise to work all things together for the good of those who love him. And I do love him.
***previous posts referred to
God's promises are true