Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Drastic Re-Write

Thank you to all who have helped in the crafting of this statement. I knew the old one wasn't where i needed to go... but after my advisor gave some tips, i have come up with the following. First a few words on the statement from my advisor:
When you go to write your statement, remember who your audience is: a search committee or employer. And remember that you are writing to try to express your own personal understanding of ministry and your calling to it. Some of us believe that pastors are shepherds who guide a flock (from behind or before, but either way- pastors lead). Some of us focus on empowerment of laity and believe we are teachers primarily. Some of us believe the church is primarily about: worship, evangelism, good stewardship, social justice, biblical interpreting, building community etc and so on. Although "the church" may be about all of those things and many more, your personal ministry should have some kind of vision and although you may try to "do it all", you probably are more passionate about some things more than others. If you care about bringing people to a life of faith- then emphasize Evangelism in your statement and explain what that might look like if you were to work with a group of people.
and now:

Ministry for me is about intentionally stepping in and caring for others and something larger than yourself. This means ministering TO as well as being ministered BY others. This is the core of the theology put forth by Jesus, namely that life, at its best, is a feedback loop, and relationships are key. Even though relationships can get messy, the only way to know one’s self is to be in relationship with others. I hope to be a minister who empowers and guides others to fully enter into relationship with others and become a people of covenant and autonomy.

To do this, my ministry will focus on five goals, listed below. These are not my only goals, but the ones about which I feel most passionately.

• To bring all religions into a mutually enriching dialogue. When we seek to understand other denominations and even other faith-traditions, we have a sharper focus on our own beliefs. We also respect those people who differ from us, and this respect emphasizes humanity over doctrine. I believe this is a good step toward the UCC’s motto, “That they may all be one.”

• To refuse to make “church-goers” out of my congregants but rather “disciples.” Christianity gets tarnished when its followers parrot beliefs without thinking for themselves. A true follower not only knows what he or she believes but also why.

• To bring a sense of play to the pulpit along with the idea that there is no such thing as secular. We must live in this world. The church, then, becomes the meeting point between this world and the divine. It is both fully secular and fully sacred. I would be mindful of the worldly concerns of the people who attend my church and show the interplay of ever-transmitting divine. Coincidence, after all, is just God choosing to remain anonymous.

• To reach out to people ages 18-30. We’re missing a large segment of the population in our pews. Some may contend that this age group just does not go to church, but my wife and I did, and look where I ended up—in seminary! I would make a push to connect to this neglected age group.

• In my ministry I hope to be welcoming and ready to walk alongside others. I want to meet people where they are and help guide them to where and who they are called to be. I want to create an authentic community that expands, stretches, and moves people in all kinds of ways.


Anglican Gurl said...

I like the lay out. It says "This guy will have short committe meetings." That's something I can get behind LOL!

This bullet point:

"To refuse to make “church-goers” out of my congregants but rather “disciples.” Christianity gets tarnished when its followers parrot beliefs without thinking for themselves. A true follower not only knows what he or she believes but also why." too negative. The tarnished part, although I agree with it, needs re-phrased some how. Does not sit well with me and sounds too pissed or something.

Anonymous said...

I think it's a good start - having goals that you want to reach towards - and they are good goals. Things will change over time but I like the way it is starting!

Cody said...

"To reach out to people ages 18-30. We’re missing a large segment of the population in our pews..."

The issue might be that we don't want to be in your pews. I've been thinking about this a lot lately, and perhaps the reason churches lack young adults has less to do with a lack of place for them and more to do with the very idea of church. I can think of very few positive things the institution has done for most people my age. I'm also unsure of its relevance to anyone my age.

Its really just about the word "pews". Minor, yes, but something I've been thinking about.

Yael said...

My apologies for not getting back with you, but I see you did great on your own so I will let go of my guilt! My older son totaled his car last week so life is much more hectic with just one car. My other son and I have been sick, just to add to the fun...

I like this statement much better; it sounds like Luke!

As for Anglican Gurl's point - perhaps just say you want to be a part of a congregation of disciples, people who think for themselves and know why they believe what they believe. (I can easily see you introducing study from a variety of sources, not just standard religious fare.)

For myself, the phrasing here that doesn't sit well with me is 'make'. Do you see yourself as a creator or as a guide? For myself I try to avoid 'creators' and stick to the 'guides'. The later help me become who I should be while the former try to force me to become who they think I should be.

Hope you don't mind the comments. Fine-tuning.

Luke said...

AG: Seems ppl either love or hate the tarnish part.

Jay: yup, this is where i'm starting from NOW. thanks for your support!

Cody: here's the screwed up part... the church might not be relevant to 18-30 cause for social groups, y'all have high school, college, sports leagues and what not. but the relevance for 18-30 for the church i can't begin to explain.. but pretty much we need the leadership and we need it NOW. (where have we heard that before? ;-)) pews is a good point, it says "Look! A Catholic/High Church guy." good catch, i'll think of another word.

Yael: good call! I'm a guiding dude. someone also stated that disciples leaves a bad taste in their mouth and prefered "seeker." glad it sounds like me, and i'm ALWAYS open for comments!

Anonymous said...

The 18-30 year old question - Cody raised a good point - usefulness of the church to that age group. What you need to develop is good ideas to get that age group involved.

Maybe theology discussions on facebook? Environmentally friendly projects? Twilight (kidding).

I think youth need to be given a place to grow within the spiritual framework of the church - move into some form of leadership - be someone of importance...we all want that I think. They want their voice to matter - since in society it goes quite unheard in many ways.

You just need to find out what it is this age group wants to do and then go at those issues - in tandem with youth. This is the group that will someday be leaders also and they need to kind of use that ability - why not at church!

Luke said...

@Cody: actually, the more i think about it, the more relevant the church becomes to 18-30 year olds. i think we're skewed when we're at leadership NOW because these are kids who are not only interested in church, but who have been involved and are at the top of their class. when i was in other church settings where the top of the class wasn't present, i saw the need for the church to provide structure, to give tradition, and support to kids.

plus i think being in church helps ppl think associatively. connect things that seem disassociated.

and i agree with Jason... church is a place to try on leadership roles and discover your gifts and personality within a safe and honest community.

and sometimes church is just good for nothing... and that makes it good for EVERYTHING. (yes, more of that paradoxical, up-side down kin-dom stuff ;-))

Sabio Lantz said...

Heck, this Atheist Ex-Christian might even visit a church which decides to hire a minister with these goals !

But to be honest, in writing a real statement for a real job with real church elders sifting through statements, you might have to give them more of what they want.

I am not familiar with UCC, so maybe this will do. But many people will stop a relationship before they have a chance to see how it works based on simple formulas.

Best wishes Luke.

Well written.

Anonymous said...

Great rewrite Luke. I think you capture both your heart and the challenge before the church well. You will get a bunch of rejections because you are so clear and passionate. That's the way it goes. Before I went to Tucson I was heart-broken at the first 15 rejections, but when I started getting turned away by churches I wasn't even interested in, man it became a joke and a laughing prayer for humility. Keep working at it and be lovingly humble and clear. I can't wait to see how this shakes out.


Yael said...

I don't care for the word 'seeker' either. It seems to me everyone is seeking something. If you had a church filled with people who just wanted to sit there unmoved it wouldn't mean they also aren't seekers, it's just that they are seeking something different from the ones that likely you have in mind when you say seekers.

I looked at the thesaurus for a better term, but didn't like any of them so perhaps your statement could include 'seekers of...' rather than just 'seeekers'?

Anonymous said...

Wow! I guess that helped clarify your mission. In some places you firm your stance and others perhaps you see room for improvement. I guess the road to truth has some bumps in it eh? A gauntlet of angels and demons - figuratively speaking - lol. Wouldn't be worth it otherwise!

Anglican Boy said...

To weigh in here, I like Seekers, keep "pews" as it is a church, and I would use stronger language than "tarnish." But that is me. I like what you write and your approach to ministry. Like Sabio, I would love to visit some Sunday in the future!