Monday, July 28, 2014

Monday Morning Quarterback 7.28.14

Monday Morning Quarterback 7.28.14

There is a blog that I follow on occasion written by a Presbyterian minister that I attended college with. Each week he writes a Monday Morning Quarterback post, reviewing the previous Sunday. I thought the habit might be helpful, both to look back on and to process through the previous week. I have kept several people's names anonymous here. I am not trying to keep secrets, but neither do I expect this to be read by very many people here in my church. I just need to begin thinking outloud about ministry in a way that people can offer input, and so I can see my journey in print on this blog. Here is the first installment

6:20  Wake up. I set the alarm for 6, but hit the snooze twice

6:30  Shower and shave the head. My weekly shave of my head takes a little bit of work. I recently bought a Flexball from Gillette, and after getting used to it, I am impressed with the job it does shaving my head.

7:00  Wake the wife up, who is already getting ready because the kids are beginning to crawl in bed and wiggle a lot.

7:30  The company begins to make their way upstairs as I am trying to help watch the kids and iron my clothes for the morning

8:00  I get out the door on time! This is good news and it feels good to get in the office by 8. I will need to work on the children's message, go over the sermon once more, unlock stuff, turn on the sound etc. Excited for the morning

8:30  Ushers and greeters begin to arrive. Communion prep people are also at work.

8:45 Steff shows up. She is a friend from college and will be doing one of two special music pieces. Her family is with her. I love those kids. I love kids more now that I ever have. My babies do that kind of thing to my heart.

8:50 Our friends from the Springs arrive. I greet people in the sanctuary. I watch for people to introduce themselves to our guests. Very few are doing so. I try to make the effort to make introductions with some people. But mostly after saying hello I greet and watch. We have set hospitality as a goal, and in recent weeks it is beginning to show that we do a piss poor job of even introducing ourselves and being polite, much less being friendly and hospitable. I file this in the back of my mind.

8:52 I go get the wireless microphone on. Check on the nursery. Take one of the guest kids back to the nursery. She wants to hug me and wants me to carry her. Very sweet

8:53 A member begins to vocally complain that she is going to be stuck helping the nursery attendant because there are so many kids. DEEP BREATHE.

9:00 Worship begins. Announcements are few. Attendance was mediocre. Will be after count is adjusted, in the 80s. Thank goodness all my friends are here. I have been praying for a monthly average of 100 by the end of the year.

9:05 The first hymn sounds great.

9:25 The prayer requests only last 10 minutes. Praise the Lord.

9:35 Sermon begins. I try to go with an outline, and having all my notes on one sheet of paper. I begin to notice who is gone and who is there. Will need to adjust the sermon as we go. 

I also wonder how many of them are attending worship with our former pastor, just out of town. The thoughts only make me angry. Why did the Conference place us in competition like that? For the last few years I have tried to get the D.S. to share what the boundaries are, and what the book of discipline says about former pastors and retired pastors and their relationship with the church. I have received mixed answers.

For the last few years I have dealt with a previous pastor that has had a difficult time detaching from the congregation, in my opinion. Is it appropriate for pastors that have left their appointment to continue to lead and attend Bible studies, attend and greet people at funerals (even if it is because he worked his way onto the funeral home staff after he left the pastorate here), to show up at church mission and birthday dinners, to attend Easter worship, to have a pastor's spouse lead disaffected members in Bible study, do solos in church, and be asked to participate in choir? Perhaps the Methodists realize that they are not going to have a pastor here for a while and are seeking to push people toward the town and country Methodist church? To offer input to the personnel regarding my job performance? I don't know. 

I have invited them back to the church. So far that invitation has been declined. So occasional visits are made, with the former pastor at one point getting up to leave when I got up to preach. The church doesn't see anything wrong with this. To me it feels like poor boundaries. But, I don't think I can deal with it until I am clear what the ethics of Methodist tradition include. All I know is that I have enough to deal with without having the former pastor in competition, which is now front and center with him pastoring a church less than 15 minutes away.

I don't want to be angry when I preach. I want to speak God's grace. Must push these thoughts to the back of my head. 

I see Mike and Lynn in balcony. This encourages me. They see me and smile. I look at Marce. She is smiling. I see Garry. He is a good listener. Appreciation of the people that are there replace my frustration with who is not. That is nice. I move on.

I try to preach, but I am dealing with a subtext. The parable is the parable of the wheat and tares. The parable deals with not trying to "pull the weeds out" (symbolizing unbelievers) until the harvest. 

Our church had made a stand to not let Mormons serve in our outreach ministry if they were going to make it their mission field. They were welcome to serve if they came as members of the community, but they were not allowed to wear their badges or promote their faith if they serve. When the missionaries heard this they decided not to serve. There are still people upset about our decision. They tell others I personally went not only to the Mormons but all the members to kick them out of the church. This did not happen. But the lies persist. 

So, in the service I want to teach the church not have an "us"/"them" mentality, but to still have covenant accountability and clear boundaries in our ministry and mission. But I don't want to focus there. So I don't. I try to focus on how God leaves us in the world among unbelievers and in the church among unbelievers so that his gospel can spread and we can grow. I think I got my point across.

9:49 I notice one of the kids falling asleep. Perhaps I need to wrap it up. I think I have done for hardly having looked at my notes.

9:52 Sermon finishes. Because of the air conditioning, I always feel like I am preaching in a tunnel. I feel spent and discouraged after the message. Did I really connect? I wonder. Now for communion. Decide it is better to switch the hymn to transition between the sermon and the Lord's Supper instead of the Lord's Supper and the offering. Hymn first will give me an opportunity to get centered as I lead the ordinance/sacrament.

9:58 Steff sings. I just close my eyes and let it soak in. It is well with my is well with my soul...I think of the history of this song, and listen to the beauty of her singing acapella. In this time of discouragement, I think of the context of the hymn and thank God for his grace in the middle of everything.

10:05 Lois plays Amazing Grace during the cup. It is also wonderful, but I am worried about the clock. 

10:08 Offering.

10:10 Closing song

10:11 Benediction.....YES

10:12 Greet people. Try and remember names. New couple says emphatically that they WILL BE back. Oh, I hope I hope.

10:18  Check attendance. Realize children are not counted. Amend attendance. Why don't they count kids. Hmm.

10:20 Go to Fellowship Hall for Refreshment time

10:40 Say good by to Steff's family

10:50 Go Home to say goodbye to the Martinez family

11:10 Martinez family leaves and I go get my stuff out of the office. 

1:00 Everyone naps but me. Ahhh quiet time.

1:15 I study for sermon #2--Nursing home. I usually do this in the form of three children's messages with a similar theme. This weeks theme: growth.

2:00 I head up to nursing home

2:10 I ask Trish (the nurse on duty) to make the announcement that church will begin at 2:30. She said that it was already done but that she will do it again. I am impressed with the changes at Castle Manor. People are actually helpful and friendly. But Trish is always helpful....

2:30 Worship begins at nursing home. 6 attendees. Best attendance of the month. This is my last week. I think about volunteering to do it every week. 

3:00 Worship ends

3:01 I visit with the residents that hang around for 15 minutes or so, and learn more of their stories. 

3:45 After running for groceries I get home. After the weekend and the day I am wiped out. Feel bad I am not playing with kids, so I try, but I am a million miles away

5:00 Go to get caught up at church. Meet someone on the way from the parsonage to the church that has a deep and important life concern. We talk until 5:50. 

5:50 I rush to get stuff from the office to the fellowship hall for the contemporary service. Then realize we have no A/V person. Worship leader makes hard copies of the songs. Attendance 15. Ugghhh. Back to where we started with this group when I got here.

6:10 Start service. Realize that we have not set communion up. We will do that during our greeting time after singing

7:05 Service gets done. Land speed record.

7:10 Talk w/ Chuck. He is such a good guy. Talk w/ Jenny too. Awesome couple. Wish they lived closer.

7:30 Everyone leaves and I can pick up

7:45 I get things locked up and can go home.

8:00 Love on kiddos

8:30 Put Karis to bed

9:00 Kiss Karis good night and veg out watching late night reality tv on TLC. Analyze villages that "Escaping Alaska" come from. Think about how they could have had greater diversity in participation of Alaska Natives...and mainly just try and not think.

12:00ish Go to Bed.

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