Saturday, May 23, 2015

It's one of those weekends...

Wet weather Friday is followed up by the annual Rugby Wanderers v Slime bout at No2 Sportsground being called off due to wet weather!! Instead I can spend the arvo chatting to those who turn up to the alternative 'social training event' at SJ's at Hamilton. Of all the matches to be delayed!! Family dinner tonight plus delayed viewing of Tahs v Crusaders on return!!

Tomorrow I was to have been journeying to Bunnan in between Merriwa and Scone, for Lunch/Reflection/Discussion that isn't going ahead. Instead maybe Jesmond Park UC... in theory a weekend of work while the girls are away BUT now staring at computer vs driving all over the Hunter.

You'd love to catch up on sleep on such a weekend except the dog was crazy with the girls away and a piece of bread roll left outside [causing him to want to go in and out of the house six times between 6-8am this morning]! Idiot!! Only matched by the chainsaw stumping three bottle brush trees across the road!! At least I've had a rock cake and got the papers!! So, here I am reflective, sorting what work to catch up on ahead of this afternoon's training run!!

Inevitably I am thinking today about future as my brain slows down to adjust to a different 2 day schedule than expected!! My role as Youth Ministry Development Worker in the UCA in the Hunter winds up at the end of this year, having extended three years limited to a fourth year. What next?

There are possibilities but the wheels of these things always turn excruciatingly slowly, limited by the fact that whatever I do we will be staying local as a family. So there are opportunities but the list has an end. This could mean all local opportunities go a different way and I either only pick up a temporary 'supply' or need to find another job.

But seriously, genuine sense of call, knowing it has been right to be in and around the Hunter over the years I've been 'back' with lots of family and life reasons, it's been good to be in the role I've had including inside knowledge in a completely different context to my previous time in the Hunter.

What's the go...
Offering Leadership in an established congregation to make space for people's hopes and talents
Reshaping offered Leadership with space and permission to discern and explore new things alongside
Experimenting with something new [ a pilot project] although his doesn't exist...
Consulting, trialling, educating, networking and facilitating, resourcing established and/or new things
Change agent, resourcing, educating mission role by any name

Youth Worker, Minister, Educator, Leader... there all and have always been just labels to me. It's interesting to still meet people who wonder what a Youth Worker would do as a congregational Minister. It's as if 'Youth Worker' has been understood as being paid to run games nights when I can't recall the last time some work with a Leader or Team or Committee within a congregation has been 'just' about the young people. This work is always about the mission and ministry of the whole congregation, even when it's pointing out that what's happening with young people currently really doesn't represent that... I have always been engaged in traditional Sunday worship, committees, projects, Elders etc albeit empowered to 'rock the boat'...

Resourcing people, means taking a/c of where they are as well as where they hope to be or where you believe God is inviting them to be...

Yes, the creative media, music related, visual, film driven, hand written, adapted, experiential worship I enjoy creating is a bit edgy or loud for older folks BUT that's because my current role is about challenging, moving, resourcing. I know how to do and am regularly offering tradition, on a weekly basis now for the last 3.5 years for example, if reshaped for the 21st C with visuals or inviting an 'experience' not just the familiar. It's true that for twenty years at least I knew this was not my call in an ordained sense and that advocacy for younger people, space for their faith exploration and attempting to create a future for things has been my call [and would continue to be as far as I can tell]. Then the church said something different about 'ordination' based on our lived experience [whether people remember that or not]. It has evolved and I'm up for any setting... uniquely placed with sense of history and tradition, energy for change and skills in engaging in the wider community, ready to flex those muscles in one place OR to help people do that in their local place... while they help me work out how you do it all well!!
   At the same time, if places aren't looking to the future and only understand the 'Ministers' role as specialist, leader, preacher, pastoral carer and keeper of things the same... then that community are missing an opportunity that is being shouted at them by God... it's always about inviting people on a journey and making space for unusual travelling companions and those 'outside' the current group...
   We seem to spend a lot of time these days focused on what we can't do!!
I hear 'the rules' quoted often, usually in short hand limiting misinterpreted ways... e.g. "a Presbytery can't tell congregations what to do..." sure... but interrelated councils is about both the extent but also the limits of each spheres freedom and response-ability. "Someone has to act differently to encourage others to behave differently". It's time for honesty and plain speaking because God is in action in the world, no doubt, so the invitations to participate will come, it's about being ready to explore.
   For example, in a cluster or set of 'linked' congregations it is possible for a Presbytery to build a relationship with that area through what it is responsible for... mission plans, consultations, placements, reviews and resourcing... tell stories, reflect things back, 'turn up the heat' sometimes [see any adaptive challenge textbook], withhold approvals, meet over meals and commit to processes together [even participating in the real meetings in the car park can help].
   You don't have to talk about or threaten building closures and sales... you just need to tell stories about alternative futures and work together on prayerful choices and then BE helpful, resourcing and permission giving to help people head into the plan. Rules create boundaries but also permission and if the rules don't fit you shape something suitable and give permission for that without trashing the rules. You document, tell the story and evaluate.
   You can tell a congregation what you won't do. You can invite people to see examples where a ministry agent has been able to shape a redefined role around listening, discerning and inviting a community of faith into new action or new stories and outline what's on offer to assist. You can report observations back, be open about your own mistakes or missed opportunities and shift from metaphors of 'home' or oasis to 'roads' or 'journey.'
   You can also withdraw from helping at all. Communication, transparency, honesty and keeping an eye on a 'K of G' ethos are all fuel for this kind of relationship!! Most churches are not sufficiently connected to their local community in ways they know what it means to be 'good neighbour' in 2015 and so any opportunities taken up will be a breath of fresh air...
OK, rambling... as usual... with permission to contradict myself completely at any time...

Imagine starting out as a the local Leader with a community of faith...
- 12 months getting to know people, places, habits, traditions... how things are done
- Find the good coffee locally and the best food place that isn't too popular
e.g. 'Six Degrees; at Queens Wharf Newcastle
A sad demise for BWP but, nice breakfast options, nice coffee, a table looking out at the Harbour and in the morning you might be one of  half a dozen customers or groups. The music isn't loud, the staff are great and there's enough coins in the meter to do 90mins or 120mins work. Free wifi. Stay long enough to do a second coffee and biscuit. I've gotten hours of creative or grunt work done, in the sun, quietly, without being bothered by anyone... I hope it does get busy at other times so it stays open...
- Listen to everything and everyone, searching for 'grounded questions'
- Include more people in planning and leading worship
- Build new music collaborations
- Think about a missional decision making task group structure within the existing power systems that transform them from within
- Have food and meetings with everyone
- Visit the hell out of people early to get to know their hopes, expectations but also what they bring
- Start new things rather than investing all change or focus on Sunday mornings
- Get a good website and engage in social media
- Be honest
- Seek reliable feedback
- Report observations, check understandings
- Tell stories, find metaphors, encourage the search for ethos not corporate plans
- Meet people on the journey, not by creating church as 'home'
- Be a 'community organiser'
- Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, Golf, Rugby, Newsagent, Barber, Shops, Police, Community Service Agencies and people, other churches leaders and people, Schools, NCLS, Council, MPs, Business leaders, indigenous groups and leaders, Funeral Directors, existing Community Events/Markets etc

Ok, thanks for the start wet weekend... who knows!

Postscript is rugby is on tomorrow so I have done work today that would have been done then...

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