Questions From Yesterday, Part 1
Whenever things slow down in the summer, I welcome Diner patrons to ask whatever questions are on their brains…and here’s my responses to yesterday’s questions:
Kendra asked, How would you say you have changed theologically in the past 10 years?
Well, honestly, I can say that I haven’t really changed at all from the day I was ordained. Now, don’t get me wrong…I spend a lot of time re-visiting the items on our doctrinal statement, say, when I’m asked to sit on an ordination council and am responsible for testing the candidate on a particular section. Maybe a former professor writes an article in a journal. And, especially when my former students, who are now accepting offers to serve in church leadership positions, as they wrestle with various doctrines. Also, the two constants that stay on the radar are the issue of “speaking in tongues” (or “private prayer languages”) and the role of women in ministry.
Like I said, I can’t think of significant changes in any area of the doctrinal statement of our church. What has definitely changed has been my ability to give others the freedom to disagree and still love them and like them. There was a time when I would burn a lot of energy arguing whether or not you were pre-or-post trib or the validity of your “private prayer language” or the role of someone divorced in leadership…stuff like that.
But, I’ve learned over the last 10 years that people I dearly love and like have differing positions than I do on those things and many others, and the relationship is vitally more important than the stances taken. So, I guess you can say that I’ve mellowed in my approach to those who differ…
…which I think is good since I’ll be spending eternity with pretty much all of them…
…but my stances haven’t wavered.
TT asked, “How did you like Dave’s jokes about you in the sermon on sunday?”
For those of you that don’t know, Dave joked around about several staff members in his sermon on Sunday…and since he was discussing Christian maturity at one point he rhetorically asked, “So, what does maturity look like?” Then, on the big screens, he showed an 8-year-old staff photograph of me when my hair was in the awkward growing out phase.
The answer to the question is that Dave asked us all during the week if we were okay with it and we all were. Frankly, if we can’t laugh at ourselves and with each other, then we’ve got bigger issues afoot. I thought it was funny and was thankful that he didn’t go with one of 100 other more embarrassing photos (19 years of youth ministry will produce those…if you don’t believe me just search for photos of me on Facebook and well…I’ve told you more than I should’ve.) he has on me.
Was there another way to take it?
Steph asked several, “Why aren’t you a youth pastor anymore?”
Well, Steph, there are several ways to approach that answer so let me hit most of ’em. First, there’s the reality that God has been working in my life/heart for quite some time about effectiveness in student ministry. The reality is that effectiveness is minimal without a partnership of some type with their parents. Over the last few years, since Nathan (and the rest of the staff that worked for me) was so obviously gifted and talented at working with students, it gave me the freedom to serve parents more…which worked well because I now had both of my teens in the ministry. I began to notice that I loved parents a great deal, too, and as they grew, so did their children. So, part is that God was changing my interests a bit.
Second, the factor I couldn’t control was how the students viewed me. What I mean is this: Students began to view me as more of a principal and my staff as more the “cool teachers.” They would develop deeper relationships with staffers than with me.
Third, the natural ebb and flow of my job kept me busy with developing staff, which meant they were the ones going to lunchrooms and football games and to coffees with the teens. My role was to serve them as they did the ministry, and this required more administrative tasks and pastoral meetings. My relational ministry was naturally becoming more limited in scope.
Fourth, our church has different needs now than it did 10 years ago…and watching Nathan, Steve, Kristy and Heather design a new ministry plan was such an encouragement to me because every fiber of my being wanted to continue with what I was comfortable with. And, frankly, after 19 years of it, I might’ve been too set in my ways. The ministry needed to re-calibrate with fresh eyes, and they’ve done that. Thankfully, all the while this was progressing along (it took about 18 months), there was a position at CBC that would allow me to stick around and serve the body here…so I jumped at the chance when they offered. For the student ministry to get to the next level, no matter how much I love it, well, it had to be turned over. It was the most loving thing I could do.
Now, don’t get me wrong…I’m still fascinated with teenagers and enjoy being around them as much as ever. I have two in my home that crack me up all the time. I still get to goof around with them and will be as involved as I can be as a volunteer in that ministry. It just looks different.