Thursday, May 15, 2008

Thinking Outside the Box

Last night at church, one of our oldest and wisest members came up to me after prayer service. "Have you ever thought of going to Iowa?" he said. I had thought he meant to work at a church in Iowa since there are more Disciples churches there than in Minnesota. He then told me he meant working on Regional staff and then talked about my working with the Presbytery and the about the whole new church movement in the Region.

Now, a year ago, I would have laughed at the notion of me on a Regional staff. I thought that was something you work towards, like a promotion from parish ministry or something, not something you have skills for. I still don't know if I have those skills, but I am beginning to wonder if I have the skills for parish ministry, at least as a solo or senior pastor. I think it's becoming apparent that these are not my strongest skills. Whether or not I have Aspergers, I do know that the "people skills" needed for a solo pastor are not there. I could probably do okay as an associate pastor doing a specific task, like mission or Christian Formation, but not as a solo pastor.

Even though I have a heart for new church plants, I know that I don't have the skills for that, either. I tried, but you really need to be a people person that can go out there and meet new people, and I'm not good at that. It's kinda terrifying to me, to be honest. I definitely could work as part of a team and could work behind the scenes, but not as the fearless leader.

So, then what can I do? Do I give up being an ordained pastor? Maybe, but maybe not. I mean, I do believe I was called to ministry. But maybe I'm not the typical pastor. Maybe I have to think outside of the box, and since I tend to be blessed (or cursed) with that gift. I do have skills in communications, so maybe work in the Region teaching churches to be better communicators has promise. Or coordinating missions between churches. Or working with a team of people to plant a new church.

A while back, a dear friend said my current job was a ministry. I was kinda peeved when he said that, because I really love to preach and do worship. But I think he does have a point. And working at a regional or presbytery level doesn't mean I won't ever preach or do other things ever again. It would just mean looking at ministry in a different way.

I still would love to plant a church or work in a existing church in someway. But I have to consider things in light of my limitations be they Asperger's or not. It doesn't mean I can't do these things, it just means that I can do them in the way other people can, because I'm not other people.

This whole call thing has been a very strange journey. It will be interesting to see where it leads.


Adam Gonnerman said...

What exactly would the Regional postion entail as far as duties? My branch (or branches) of the movement lack this sort of super-structure, but I would normally assume that one would go from parish to regional, rather than directly to regional. Then again, maybe it's wrong to think of it as a corporation. Depending on the position and what it requires, you may be more skilled for it than for parish ministry. Hmmmm.... I do hope you are praying about this.

Adam Gonnerman said...

You sent me an e-mail and now I can't find it. Could you please re-send? Sorry!