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Category Archives: Future

Back from a time away

I took a few days away to grapple with some things. As seems to be typical, I gained more peripheral clarity than central. I came to three statements that seem to be relevant:

Hold your head up.

Let it come to you. (or “it will come to you”)

You know what you have to do. (the hard thing)

They have meaning for me (does not mean I like them!), and each came in response to a specific seeking. The first was a general “What now?” The second about a more specific “What do I do next (employment-wise)?” The last came when contemplating what has been asked of me by my denomination. I’m not done sorting it all yet.

I wrote a few things recently, and will be slowly posting them. I’ve added a new page to the home page. I’ve called it “Ideas and Dreams.” To reduce clutter I’ve moved the JH Ranch stuff to be a sub-page of the LifeLessons page. Hopefully that did not wreck any links.

I took one book along on my retreat, one a friend had lent me because he felt it might fit my life circumstance. It does. But it is in a writing style that is tough slogging for me as a visual yet cerebral person. It shares some deep and valid and fascinating insight about individual and communal spiritual discernment, and about the role of head and heart in that discernment, but does it without stories, or word pictures, or illustrations, hence my brain tread does not get good traction unless I reread or really really focus. The book is called “The Voice of Jesus: Discernment, Prayer, and the Witness of the Spirit” by Gordon Smith. His distilling of commonalities between Ignatius, Wesley and Edwards was very interesting. I’m still only halfway but will finish it because — although hard reading for me — it is very relevant and has much to teach me. It’s sort of like being near Yoda as he is softly whispering the secrets of the force –you know it’s weighty, but you have to strain to catch it.

But while at my place of retreat I picked up a laying-around book called “Catch the Wind; The shape of the church to come-and our place in it” by Charles Ringma. That one really grabbed me and resonated, and I read the whole thing in two sittings. It is quite radical, yet rings true in terms of the questions I’m grappling with — and have for some time — regarding the shape of how we do church, and how to change forms. Here are a few distilled sips:

 

“Change is never only about truth. It is not simply about what is best. It is far more complex than that. It also has to do with politics. And church politics is about power, privilege, status and continuity.

We cannot afford to be naive about the way in which change takes place or is resisted in church. Change should be a matter of moving ourselves and others to live more authentically as God’s people in our world. Instead, it is often a power game, where tradition wins over relevance and where present structures block new possibilities.

“… … … human institutions frequently lose their way. Over time they develop a self-perpetuating life and culture of their own. They develop powerful traditions, hierarchies, experts, resources and legitimacies that are hard to resist and change. More seriously, institutions frequently fail to live out their own stated goals and purposes and fail to serve the very people they were meant to serve. And most disconcertingly, institutions can propagandize their clientèle, controlling their lives at the point of their vulnerability, and thus create dependence.” — 40

 

 

“… An institutional dependence … guarantees immaturity. If I am well socialized into the ethos of the church, this does not necessarily prepare me well for my participation in the world… And, as I believe spirituality is the co-joining of my inner and outer world, it is imperative that my spirituality is formed in both the church as well as in the the world outside the church.” 66 – 67

I hope that gives you an idea of it. I had to leave the book there and did not type many notes. His big themes as alternative directions for church were that individuals need to take more responsibility for their spiritual growth, and that such growth happens in daily living, but he also was very big on church being community more than a place ‘just’ for sacred ceremonies. I hope to get a copy of my own to read more reflectively. He has republished it recently with a more emergent focus, so I’ll get that version. The two books were actually a good blend.

 

The road ahead

This past week at our regional meeting my process was moved forward with permission given to me by the regional body to be working as an Interim pastor in Quincy Washington. The next step is to meet with an evaluation committee to assess readiness to be officially declared available for a call. I’m relieved to have been provided this bridging opportunity, as considering an official call would be a difficult decision for me to make right now. It would also be difficult to not be employed in ministry of some sort, though I could do it if needed. All those years of preparation and practice and enjoying connecting God and people would be hard to step out of.

The Quincy church and I have been working hard to get the administrative ducks lined up (most of you know how I love bureaucratic hoops) and we have an application in to the US immigration department. Once that is approved I can settle a bit more.

I still plan to apply at one or two larger churches to test the advice I’ve received that my abilities (and shortcomings) suit a larger church better than a small one. I will do that even as the church I’m serving continues to seek a pastor to call.

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2007 in Future, Life unfolding, report on event, update

 

Visiting a church Aug 26

Today I visited a small church group that meets in a room in a school. I visited as guest pastor. I arrived exactly when the service was supposed to start, because I had not paid close attention to a small detail on the instructions. I was led to the room (some kind of a music room, judging by the symbols decorating it) and sat down. This did not give me good opportunity to ‘read’ the situation as I arrived. What I did notice and found fascinating was that besides the middle aged and older people in “sensible” semi-above-casual clothes, there were a few teenagers, one in the full goth look. Dark black long hair, full-length black coat with various vivid red symbols painted on it, some looked like chinese characters. I never got the chance to take a closer look or to try conversation with that group. This person was with two others, one was carrying a baby. So it made for an interesting contrast and step out of the ordinary right away.

Even though I was there just on time, the service did not get going for another 10 minutes. One person led the service. A piano led the music. There were several projected litanies to start. The feel was nice and relaxed, a bit interactive. There was no amplification and this made for a more intimate and interpersonal feel to the situation. I am realizing as I write that arriving like I did had me missing many details. For instance, I have no real idea how many people were in that room, I just never attended to that detail, even when I was preaching. When I sat, I sat at the front, and it would have been a bit obvious to turn and count. I’m going to guess it was around 40 people. I knew beforehand there would be a significant number of teachers, and when I asked for a show of hands there were about 7. This Sunday, just like last, there was another pastor in the congregation who was on vacation.

A lady spoke after I did about her family’s mission work in Africa.

There was coffee after the service, and there I had two facinating conversations with retired men who have a passion for ongoing Kingdom work. Both of them have a passion for mission education. One was a retired businessman who in retirement is getting himself theolgocally educated, the other a retired educator. That kind of conversation I could do all day. 

Saturday I assisted a lady in putting on a training workshop on enfolding the marginalized and handicapped into a church setting. She had heard a few of my experiences and asked me to share them. It was an educational time of sharing back and forth. Boy, parents of less-able-to be like everyone else expects children have a real hardship, and the church has a real opportunity to be a haven and a resting place for them, but I learned again that I don’t fully understand as a pastor how best to do that and how often the church’s approach actually causes more hardship than relief. Much learning and work remains to be done. 

Next week, if all goes well, I will have a report on my first experience at a small church in Washington state that I am working on an agreement with to be their interim pastor. I am not sure how I will blog that yet. It may take a day or two before I get to a computer or an internet connection and can post my experiences. There are many uncertain things about this situation yet, for instance, whether I can get a work permit, and other technical details. I’m looking forward to it if it works out.

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2007 in Future, report on event, Worship

 

No CPE at this time

Last week, in talking to someone about options I’m considering for the future, I was given contact information for the director of a Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) program nearby. I sent out an exploratory inquiry.

Yesterday, after some reading of descriptive materials and a conversation with the director of the program, I decided not to take CPE training at this time. There are a few reasons, not all of which I wish to share publicly. The ones I can are: It is not a program that comes in conjuction with a paid position as a chaplain and in fact it costs. It runs two daytime days a week from Sept until Spring and may then interfere with employment opportunities that might come my way. Also, I was told by the director – who knows my situation and my former congregation – that CPE is not a place to go to process separations from congregations, but to equip oneself better professionally for a certain aspect of pastoral work. 

So that is now off the table for now. There is a 5 week intensive course next summer that might work, depending on my situation at that time. 

I am very encouraged though that options are coming my way, even at a time when I am not yet ‘actively’ persuing any. I plan to get busy with that in mid July. I already have four preaching engagments for July/August.

For now, I’m helping out here and there as I get requests, I’m having debriefing meetings, and I’m brushing up on my resume/profile. Tonight I start packing for a week’s Father/Daughter adventure camp next week with our oldest Daughter.

That trip, by the way, means there will be no report on a visit to a church this coming Sunday, unless I post ahead of time about an experience I had visiting a church last December. 

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2007 in Decision, Future

 

Retreating

In an hour or two I’m leaving for four away days of retreat and reflection. Unless I find an internet connection where I am, I don’t intend to post anything for that time period. I will however, very likely be preparing posts about my thoughts and experiences on retreat, so I may have a flurry of posts over the next weekend.

 
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Posted by on June 4, 2007 in Future, report on event

 

Decision

In between packing up and sorting books today I attended the Tri-Cities Ministerial meeting. There I had a conversation with the volunteer coordinator at Eagle Ridge Hospital who is the one who is also doing the hiring of the person to fill the half-time chaplaincy coordinator. On the basis of reading the job description online and that conversation, I am setting that opportunity aside for now. Half of the job is administrative which gives me pause. They also want a one year commitment and I can’t do that. It struck me in the conversaton that it would have been a good bivocational solution. 

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2007 in Decision, Future, report on event

 

Hello!

Pastor Pete here. See “About” over on the right for more on the purpose of this site. As I write this tommorrow is my offical last service at MPCF. I am hoping for a good service, though right now it doesn’t feel like it will continue to build year-on-year momentum as previously. It’s in danger of being long, and my understanding is that the Korean congregation no longer has a strong youth contingent, which brought energy to the worship on previous Pentecost Sundays. 

Regardless, of how it goes, it will be a relief when that last function is done and there will be just a few details to wrap up and the major job of cleaning out my study.

I have a humanly absurd sense of calm about my future. I have resolved not to be too proactive pursuing what God has in store for me next until mid July. Yet three opportunities (or hints of them) have come my way in just the past week without much seeking. That is reassuring. One is a half time chaplaincy. But when I first investigated it seemed like it was more of an administrative/coordinator positon than a bedside care one. I will have to clarify that next week… Then a pastor I met at the Regent Pastor’s conference asked to do lunch with me. We have very similar interests. He has lost two associates in the past 6 months… Then an old friend and former employer asked to go for lunch to talk options and other things… (the three dots, called an elipsis, mean these sentences and options are still ongoing, open).

That’s it for my first post.

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2007 in First Post, Future