Monday, August 31, 2015

Untitled

So. Since I am now - once again - getting back into the groove of this writing thing, I feel the need to write about where I've been and what I've been up to. Basically, I need to bring myself up to speed in writing about this past year. Yeah, yeah - I lived it, but I've worked in higher education long enough to know the Golden Rule: if it's not documented, it never happened. 

A Pulpit By Any Other Name

Back in October 2014, right about the time my blog went radio silent, the local church where I'd been attending (admittedly off and on) pretty much since we moved to South Carolina found themselves without a full-time pastor. Since I had in the past stepped in to insure there was no vacancy in the pulpit on given weeks, I was asked if I would step in again, but this time stay in. On a week to week basis. 

These people were (and still are) my friends. There was no way I was going to say no. 

For all the times I spoke at New Hope, I fought against the idea of labeling myself "Pastor." When asked what title I wanted on the bulletin (not so much so people could have a title to call me; I was always referred to by my name or "The Bald Guy"), I opted for the moniker "Interim Teaching Pastor." It summed up what could have been my time in the pulpit along with what I saw myself as: a teacher. I saw myself as a DEAD POETS SOCIETY era Robin Williams crossed with VELVET ELVIS era Rob Bell, with a pinch of CHAGALL GUEVERA era Steve Taylor for good measure. 

Basically, a non-conformist, educated, teller of stories that could foster spiritual growth, with an openness to all, and love free of judgment through the lessons I taught, with a passion for people over theology.

So, in other words, kinda like Jesus.

Titles within churches are tricky. I can be and am comfortable with the label of "Youth Pastor" or "College Pastor," because (1) they sound comparatively more like they belong to someone who might be cool to be around, and (2) they make me sound younger than I am. Outside of church, these titles don't create as much of a negative social flinch in some people; again, those with these jobs traditionally can be and tend to be less stuffy and proper in many regards. 

Part of my reluctance in taking on the name of "Pastor" stemmed from my insecurity of my theological lineage. I don't have the MDiv to go along with the name. My ordination comes from the same basis as the Apostles (that is to say, none). My "proper" church pedigree doesn't exist. And while I love being a spiritual mutt, with respect to those who have done due diligence in obtaining the proper credentials, I felt awkward about taking a title I didn't feel I had earned. 

But as I came to see and feel in the eyes and hearts of my people, the people at New Hope, I was a pastor. I am a pastor. A messenger of faith, hope, and love. And whatever hang up I had on the name, I needed to get the hell over it. I was there for them, not for a name I gave myself because of my insecurities. 

And being their pastor made me feel special. Because I challenged myself, week in and out, to be as transparent as possible, to teach what they needed and not what I wanted to talk about, and to be the first among equals. And I can only hope I was as good for them as they were for me. 

A Blog Backlog

Unlike other pastors who have "study hours" in their offices in the church, my study hours were conducted during nap times while Eli slept. My bi-vocational life as a stay-at-home dad/pastor was so rock star it defies description. As such, something had to give. I mean, there are only so many hours in the day to cook breakfast, fix coffee, do laundry, clean, vacuum, play, go grocery shopping, break up sibling fights, run to Target, go to parks, fix lunch, explain why we are not having grilled cheese again, play, clean, do dishes, put a toddler down for a nap, play board games quietly, have a snack, prep dinner, break up another fight, and do research on a sermon. 

So, I drew the curtains on the windshield for a little while. 

But..I kept writing. Sermons. Ideas. Outlines. So I have a load of stuff to edit, adapt, and load up. I could upload the notes from my sermons after I rewrite them so they're not so crazy scattered to the untrained eye. It's what all the cool pastors do. ...actually, they probably have someone they pay to do that, but neither Kai nor Eli are eligible for employment yet, so...

So folks from New Hope? You'll be able to read my sermons and actually see what I was talking about. Trolls? You'll be able to read my sermons and actually flame me over what you see as theological impurities. Everybody else? You'll be able to read my sermons and actually see if I am capable of a deep thought or three. 

My email address is linked above at the CONTACT ME section. 

But don't worry - I'll also write about beer and my kids as well. Just in due time. First, we have to set up this new house...

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