I’m not sure how to describe what is happening in our church. By the church, I mean the people – not the building (although we are seeing things happen with the building – furnaces are working properly, walls taken down, sound systems possibly being reconfigured, etc.).
One way or the other, our Sunday services have increased from around 70 people last spring to around 110 today. Some of this is transfer growth from other churches, but some is people who have not been related to a church lately. They may have been in the past, but not until lately have they returned to a group of people that we call the “institutional” church.
What brings that about? God! Yes, that’s true. Some of it is people with kids. Other is a need for connection with people of like mind. What else we will see!
For the moment, I’m trusting God to provide direction in knowing how to pastor these people.
It has been awhile.
I used to help with our youth group up until this past summer. At that point our associate pastor was able to step in – and I added one more evening to my week!
Actually, I missed that one evening a week! So tonight I was together with the youth group. We played old fashioned games. Dodge-ball and old fashioned exercises and tug of war. All just fun!
I didn’t realize the shape I’m in. Which, for my age, is not bad. I kept up to the kids and hardly ran out of breath.
And now, I’m revitalized. Ready for tomorrow’s church service. Where we are not sure how many will attend. We’ve been seeing increasing numbers, for a number of reasons. We’ll see how tomorrow fares.
I’m speaking on Colossians 3:16 – on thankfulness. Should be good!
Yesterday I sat with other “senior pastors.” Some have been in ministry for four decades. The rest of us have at least two or three decades of ministry in hand.
One of the elders talked about the high rate of dropout in the pastoral vocation. Another talked about burnout. By 40 most pastor’s have realized that you can’t get by on programs or fads.
And most of us have tried the “next thing.” Not out of malicious intent. If anything this movement is towards the best for our churches and the best for Christian life.
Not that it always helps!
The truth is – unless we begin with intimacy with Christ – we end up with the lesser instead of the best.
That’s was the discussion around the table. We came to the reminder for all of us – remember to live with Christ in us. That means setting aside our own interests and seeking Jesus Only. Sounds like slogans, but the longer I live the more I realize there is a reason slogans last!!
Today I’m digitizing the voices of children when they were much younger. Put into simple terms – I’m putting a tape onto a CD/mp3.
What fun to hear words being newly pronounced, and high pitches in voices. Knowing the kids at their current age, their voices and vocabularies have certainly matured.
I wonder how people look at me some times. I’m currently in living in my birthplace. There are people that I encounter on Sunday mornings who probably saw me when I was just newly home from the hospital, still in diapers. Half a century later, they still see me.
But what do they see?
I suppose they see an older man – but sometimes I wonder if, for them, there is still the image of a baby in the midst of the baritone voice of an adult. And is that such a bad thing?
Walmart is our local “photograph development center.” In other words, a town of 5,000 depends on one store to provide photo quality enlargements and other varied photograph needs.
A few years ago two other stores in town were in the running. Both ran out of steam.
Today I headed over to the Walmart to get some wallet size photos of our family. The pictures would serve for viewing with friends and neighbours when we got together. But, I was completely ignorant of how to go about this.
Thankfully, Shannon was there. As the employee overseeing picture lab information, she kindly showed me how. Merely use the “collage” tab.
Now, I have become used to this whole idea of finding the access point to get into greater depth. I clicked and clicked and ended up with great wallet pictures. Only a single loonie!!
So, feel free to come and visit. I’ll show you our family portrait. As we did tonight with friends from Melfort. The foray into ignorance has had a good ending!!
Well, today we got word. My brother is in hospital. He had problems with standing, and has had some weakness on his left side. CAT scans show nothing but he will continue in hospital for observation. Perhaps a small stroke? Not sure.
Before Christmas my sister had an operation for cancer and will be undertaking preventative chemo treatments. She is doing well, but the looming hand of ill health is always at the door.
Which reminds me that, for all of life that surrounds us, and all of death that sits on the edges . . . we do have an unbelievable horizon. When Jesus rose from the dead he spoke into the darkness. Death has no sting, grave has no victory. But even before we reach that beginning with no ending, there is life in the midst of life here and now. So, regardless of our age or physical condition, we can know life.
The portal to this wide open life? It all comes down to Jesus!
Thank God for his immeasurable gift.
My wife and I put together a song back in September of 1999. Here are parts of the song:
Sitting all alone, I wait
Hoping that I soon could hear your gentle voice.
But I can’t hear you.
Rushing through my busy day
Looking for some glimpse that shows you’re near me.
But I can’t see You.
Is it wishful thinking that you’re there?
Can we know for sure that you care?
We’re hearing without words, Knowing without seeing, trusting even when it seems unclear. We’re walking through our fear and resting on His promises, trusting even when it seems so unclear.
We’re hearing without words, knowing without seeing, trusting even when it seems unclear. We’re walking through our fear and resting on His promises
Jesus love is with you.
I suppose one of the things that disturbs me about our current society is that we are driven. Right to the edge, and then over. So you get people who are walking dead.
The counsel needed is to return to “puttering.” At least that’s what I’m naming it. And when I use that term, people catch on to it right away.
Maybe because we associate it with retirement. A time when there are no time constraints, people can slow down and smell . . . whatever the current aroma is. Ask yourself – what smells around you right now? Most of us haven’t stopped to consider the aromas.
I used to tell people they stunk pretty. At least I was smelling them. Most of us need to putter away so that we can smell the roses and the roast and the roaming dogs on the sidewalk. And yes, they do smell!
So, maybe you don’t want to putter so you can smell what stinks! But consider at least slowing down to keep your heart rate in check, your brain clear and your thankfulness constant.
Just back from a meeting. For the past few months we have piloted a budgeting program with a young couple. Their review was glowing! Life changing in many respects – they are now able to look at money as an instrument in their lives, rather than a milestone around their necks.
This is the fun part of ministry. When you begin to see people take on biblical principles and live! Live with enjoyment. Live with new horizons. Live outside of restrictions that need not be there!
And so, I’m excited. Where to next? Well, the facilitator is available as a consultant, but will be moving away from our fair town. So, we will look for someone to facilitate, but at least that person will have an enthusiastic couple to promote the program.
Well, I’m looking forward to this year’s church work.
For six and a half years we have been given the opportunity to work with a great bunch of people. When we first came there was hurt and anticipation. We weren’t quite sure what was the next step.
I took some advice a a pastor friend of mine (whose dad had worked for my dad back when my dad had a farm here in Kindersley). Stan had asked an older parishioner what was the most important things a pastor needed to know when he came to a church. The parishioner replied quite simply, “Love the people.”
Can’t say that has been easy. I’ve doubted that I was cut out for this. And yet, God created this gnawing-ness in side me that keeps me going. I want to see people who are committed to this community, prepared to proclaim that the deepest need is not better therapy, or better know how (which components are vital), but grace that accepts us for who we are, provides forgiveness for what we have done, and gives us strength for each day. That only comes from knowing God through Jesus Christ. With a community that begins to glimpse and grasp that truth, the good life will appear through the cracks and soon a loving society emerges.
That’s what I want to see.