Last week I attended the second week of Transitional Ministry Training. It was wonderful.
I sit at my desk in my office in Norman looking at a sheet with affirmations from my small group. A group of 5 pastors who dwelt with one another in the challenges of the church in the 21st century, our particular contexts and struggles, what it means to be pastor in the role of transitional or interim minister and how that differs from longer term ministry, the shape that God's call takes in our lives and where we resonate with one another and our churches.
We started the week on Monday as strangers, and quite different from one another in context, age, race, gender, marital statues, ministry history, denomination. If they felt anything like I did, unsure we would be able to connect and help one another.
We ended the week a valued and truth-telling group of colleagues and even friends, who heard one another's stories of struggle without judgement, and with careful ears to where God is working and where our growing edges might be. We used careful words, loving ears, and humor in the midst of hardship and confusion. We prayed extensively for one another, our prayers complimented one another aloud, we prayed for our churches and families, for clear vision, God's presence, and our own peace. We prayed with love.
I am grateful for them, and for the teaching team for the week who offered their wisdom and work in transition to us openly and with humor that helped us all to expand our vision and hopefully find focus and clarity for this murky and often difficult call. We enjoyed one another and I found rest and renewal in the beauty of Lake Tahoe and the Zephyr Point Retreat Center. Creation is a blessing to such experiences and times.
I return home and to this call of listening and leading in the midst of change. I love my work and this place and hope that our time together is a blessing to all of us, and can show this church and me new ways and places God is calling us each.
The other goal I came away from my week away with is to write more. In meal conversations with folks in my Week 2 group (who had already done the first week of this class some time previously) and with others from Week 1, more than one person told me I need to write a book, and more than one person told me I should plant churches, work with campus ministry, or explore other parts of what it means to be Church now.
I realized that in particular, as the book suggestion was made for the third time, that my fear of writing was perhaps getting in the way of hearing a call from the Spirit. She has called me to this before and I have written things that never were read by anyone else because of the fear instilled by all of my primary school teachers that I am 'not good at writing'. I try to unlearn this criticism, but it is a road block that is not yet in my rear view mirror.
So for myself, and whether anyone reads these posts or not, I am going to write something every day for the next month and post it here. If you enjoy these, or learn something, I am glad, but its not really about that, its about overcoming my fear of this writing thing. Thanks for your time!