I wrote this blog several weeks ago, but had to make it private because some details needed to be hashed out. Now, many things have come into fruition, and it is safe to finally post this. I updated it, as time has went by and things have changed.
My life is in the midst of a drastic change. I am currently on break from school. I won’t be going back for about three months… the time is almost too long and all I want to do is just finish. Then I will continue on to get my Masters of Theological Studies and/or my Masters of Divinity, which I will now be getting at no cost because my beautiful wife just got a full-time job at the seminary. That’s terrific news!
Xanga is going away, which naturally, is a big bummer for me… I created a WordPress account to prepare for the coming apocalypse, but let’s face it… there is not another place out there like Xanga. I don’t know what I’m going to do when Xanga shuts down or goes to a paysite.
I recently lost one of my jobs. Cokesbury closed all of their bricks and mortar stores to compete easier with the online bookstores. I’ve been out of that job since mid-April, so really, I’ve been doing a lot of housework and a lot of movie watching. I also just finished an application for the new bookstore that is taking the place of Cokesbury. I was asked to apply, so I am feeling pretty good about this.
I still have my job as a youth director… that’s alright… but I’m starting to feel frustrated in this ministry for various reasons. I won’t name all of those right now, but there is change in the works. I’ve just come to the conclusion that Youth ministry, in its traditional sense, is not my calling. I’m called to teach. I’m called to tell others about Jesus Christ. I’m not called to program ministry. But as I said, there are bigger things in the works. Check this out:
About a year ago, my pastor and his family went on a three-month sabbatical trip to South Africa, Turkey, and Scotland, all for educational purposes. While they were out, Steve, a congregation member in his late 50′s who was a former United Methodist pastor stepped in. Steve had left the ministry during a difficult time in his life, but decided to fill in for my pastor while he was on sabbatical. This former pastor is one of the best preachers I’ve ever heard. He preaches with a Bible in his right hand and you can tell he believes every word that comes out of his mouth. He’s extremely lively and if anyone knows about the work of the church, it’s Steve. When he stepped away from the pulpit over a decade ago, he picked up a job at the YMCA because he knew he needed to be serving others. He’s been there ever since and is always seen around the community doing service and telling others about Jesus.
When my pastor and his family returned after the summer, they came back to a thriving congregation… not that there is anything wrong with how my pastor leads the church, but new things were happening and new ideas were being undertaken. This led my pastor to make some really though decisions in his personal life and pastoral life for the good of the congregation. This was done in humility and in trust. These decisions would not go unnoticed.
A couple of months ago, my pastor was asked to move. This isn’t something out of the ordinary in a United Methodist Church. Part of the role of a pastor in the UMC is to move from church to church every so often, building and training the body of Christ to do the work of God. Theoretically, the UMC is a lay-driven church. It should be anyway… and the itinerant discipline should help to ensure that, but I digress. He was actually asked to be the Assistant District Superintendent, which is a big responsibility. Basically, my pastor got a hefty promotion. Sunday was his last day in the pulpit at my church.
Around the same time, a couple of months ago, Steve, who was our interim while our pastor was on sabbatical found out that two people he had helped train were being let go at the Y. He decided that it was only right for him to resign from his position in an attempt to help these other two keep their job. This couldn’t have happened at a better time. He also happened to be asked if he’d be willing to take the reigns and be the pastor of my church again. He accepted.
Now I say all of that as a set up to a bigger picture… Because my wife got a full-time job that starts in July, she would not need her current job at our church, and we would both be leaving. However, since Steve is now our pastor, the parsonage will not be used as he already has a home in the area. This is a big deal because my wife, myself, and our roommates are looking for another place to live because our lease is up this summer. My former pastor’s wife made a suggestion: Why not use the parsonage as an extension ministry of the church, where we will engage in intentional living, prayer, Bible study, and worship? Basically, she suggested starting a house church that is affiliated with our current church. This is something that my wife and I have felt called to for a very long time, and it looks like the pieces of this puzzle are coming together. It’s funny how God works. Who knew that this sabbatical trip from one year ago could lead to something bigger not only for my wife and I, but for our church, and for our community as well!? Now, I will finally be able to live up to my calling a little more. We would be much more comfortable in this role because we would not feel so tied down to our responsibilities at the church- Though we would attend and still be very involved, we could have more of a hands off approach to our ministries (my wife’s being music, mine being youth) and help guide these to be lay-led. We will no longer be paid, but instead, we would be gifted this house to use to God’s glory.
A few weeks back, I was eating lunch with my wife and I was thinking about the possibilities of this house church. Our Church is named Concord United Methodist Church. When one thinks of “Concord”, one typically thinks of grapes. So, as this house would be an extension ministry to Concord, I thought it would be appropriate to name it “The Vine Community”, or something along that line. We would have our theme verse as John 15:5, where Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will produce much fruit.” I also thought it would be cool to plant some grapes in the yard of the parsonage. My wife and I had not told anybody about these plans, in fact, my wife sort of scoffed at the idea.
That next morning, Steve woke up around 4:30 in the morning and he couldn’t go back to sleep because he had the exact same vision, and it was keeping him awake. He talked with my wife about it that day and my wife revealed to him that I had thought all that through yesterday. His response: “That’s God!”
Oh, and his devotion for that day: John 15.
It is God, indeed!
I’m excited. I will hash out more details as they come out, but this is very big news right now!