Sunday, August 19, 2007

Another Encouraging Thought

Four years ago my role here was to, basically, hear people's complaints and make the complainers, "happy." Obviously, this was not the most healthy of environments to walk into - nor was it the most satisfying of ministry locations. It was, however, the culture of the Church - and the first thing I realized when I got to Central was that the culture had to change. The prospect of this was both intimidating and exciting. Growing up I'd always shied away from things that were too challenging, but as I moved through LMH and then Eastern I began to love being challenged by projects, classes, and personal study. Seminary left me starving in that area (which is one of the reasons I picked up Linux), and my first two years as a pastor made me fear that I was going to be nothing more than a religious manager. The prospect didn't make me very happy, and when I found that Central needed something other than a religious manager I was very excited. Yet, I have to confess I was also scared out of my mind because I was in completely uncharted waters wondering how the heck one managed to shift a culture that almost dared people to try and change it (and had a left a trail of folks who had tried in it's wake). I ended up taking some short trips down bad roads and some long trips up the wrong mountains my first couple of years here - but I kept trying to see just what direction we needed to steer towards to find the path where Christ wanted us. Frankly, I needed a lot of friends on the way to keep me even on the ship.

In those days, as the clearinghouse for congregational problems, stuff would be dropped on my lap that I really shouldn't have needed to deal with - but, as it involved the Church (and the people in the Church) it was somehow always my problem. When I suggested to people that they talk to folks over thing that needed to be done/weren't getting done/should be prevented from every happening folks would shrug and say, "Well, O don't want to offend anyone, I mean it's not really a big deal, but I thought you might like to know so you can do something about it. After all, you're the pastor."

Lately, however, that's not what's been happening. People are feeling freer to deal with each other as brothers and sisters in Christ, talk about ministry decisions (and even, gasp, disagree with them without blowing up), and generally feel free to pursue ministry here without having to use me as a clearinghouse. The results are a congregation that's growing in health, is learning how to trust each other, and will actually confront problems. Needless to say, I'm a lot happier - I pray we keep developing this type of trust, good things will come of it.

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