A little disorganized this morning as too much seems to be happening at the same time. Not major things but too many little things that are like flies and mosquitoes buzzing around my ears. Very distracting. So ... its time to breathe in and out and do a little re-centering.... and blogging :-)
My new modem was waiting for me at my office doorstep (arrived in the mail and I had a wee bit of a problem setting it up. Now ti is obviously up and while the connection is not what it should be, at least I have enough speed to at least open my e-mail properly and can even blog. My phone line still has background static. Headache as I know this means that I may have "cranky internal phone lines" as sometimes connection is good, and at other times it is poor. It is hard to logically troubleshoot and eliminate one problem at the time when I am tired.
On Monday I came in to open up the church for the AV guy to check out AV system. Had some kind of blow out a few weeks ago and everything pointed to the cables which made no sense. So he went through with me as a sounding board step by step and we pulled all the cables out and tested them one by one, checked each point ... What worked before suddenly could work and then the next test had no signal etc. We even used 2 different notebooks and a desk top, new cables, direct links etc and finally we found the fault up in the ceiling ... an AV booster / splitter. What a headache!
My children's schedules are also messed up and it is a headache (thankfully my wife is back!) and the cold is making my brain numb. I have some wiring problems in my house (too many plug points connected to one or two circuits) so had a few shorts when we were cooking and putting on the heaters at the same time. So now need to look into taking advantage of the governments subsidies for insulation and heating.
Suddenly too ministry opportunities are rearing their heads and so its not easy trying to discern what to take on and what not to ... and winter means more people are sick and peripherals start skipping church! On the plus side it is nice to have calls asking me to visit rather than me asking if it was ok to pay a visit and I am not due to preach till 5 July!
It is good to keep busy but it has to be fruitful and I am aware that I have been feeling rather tired the last few days. Sign to slow down a bit. So I am glad Thursday night games are in recess. It is also good but a little unnerving that after weeks of postponement and adjustments due to various circumstances I start "informal coaching" of the junior table tennis team at the local High School. Glad that it is not starting today as originally scheduled. Had an interesting time watching the senior team at their first training session with their new coach (who will only be able to give them a few sessions as he is a busy university student). I am now a regular driver when the team needs to go outside the school for training.
It will be a busy week nevertheless as I have 2 home group meetings this week and a youth Bible study class. But it will also be fun as Saturday we have an International Connections meeting -a Texas Barn dance. An authentic Texas USA theme run by two Texans :-) Our church's part apart from helping with food is the line dancing presentation and teaching. (I will politely sit by the sidelines as you know I can't dance!)
Later today I have an appointment with the new TEAR FUND representative. He is making his rounds to meet his "constituents" :-) Sometimes when such ministry people request to meet up with me and when I talk with them, I wonder if it would be easier for me if I were in such a ministry (more focused in terms of job description). BUT then I quite quickly come to the conclusion that despite seasons of "confusion" and "disarray" I am in the right vocation. I am convinced that I am meant to be a ministry generalist. And as long as I have a church that is supportive of what I do I will be more than fine.
On Friday I will be having a meeting with the Training and Event Manager of The Project K programme, which is one of the programmes under the Foundation for Youth Development. I got a letter from her requesting help with a sausage sizzle fund raiser as due to the recession, funding for many programmes has had a short fall and therefore risk closure. As we chatted (on the phone) I brought up selling balloon sculptures as we talked about the request "Also if there is anything else that you can do to assist with raising funds for us please let us know." For me as long as my church allows me some time off to do this, it will cost nothing (since I will be donating the balloons) it seems to me a good opportunity to get to know people, raise the church's profile in the community and help raise funds for a good cause. Biggest issue will be whether I am taking on too much. It's tough to find the balance between being logical and reasonable and moving in faith ...
This morning I read an article by Dan Kimball (it's reproduced at the end of this blog) which helps me think I am on the right path in my ministry priorities and how I handle facebook etc. It relates also to my philosophy of life and ministry - my world view so to speak.... something I made a commitment to re-evaluate after getting feedback from my church's leadership committee on my "job performance review" (BTW, praise God it was a very positive and pastoral review)
I am excited too that next month our former Pastor will be running an in house seminar on "Developing a Christian world view". Been promoting this course as many of you know I am passionate about this subject. So I am planning to preach a sermon next month in conjunction with the launching of the seminar on "The importance of developing a Christian mind".
I am hoping and praying that we get a good turn out (as it is winter!) as I think that this seminar if understood and applied will help a great deal in our church ministries and growth ... and will also in an indirect manner help more understand why I do what I do :-)
Here's the article by Dan Kimball entitled: Do It, Don't Blog It
Is all the chatter on the web about missional church actually keeping us from being missional?
I was a guest speaker at a church, waiting for my time to go up to the platform. That's when I saw something curious. The staff person responsible for coordinating the worship service was busy typing away on her laptop. Perhaps a last minute change to the PowerPoint, I thought. But as I walked behind her, I saw that she was consumed with typing a message on someone's Facebook wall. It felt out of place to me, given that she was the person responsible for leading God's people in worship but she seemed mentally someplace else.
I had a similar experience while visiting a Christian college. Sitting in the back of the classroom, I noticed that about a third of the students were surfing Facebook or MySpace while the professor was passionately teaching the New Testament. He probably assumed they were busy taking notes.
I cannot be too hard on the worship coordinator or the college students. I've noticed the same tendency in myself lately. A few Sundays ago, I was heading home after preaching three times. I was tired and looking forward to opening my laptop and reading my favorite blogs in particularly ones focused on missional theology and leadership. Just then I received a text message from a friend. He was inviting me to a club to see a band with a number of non-Christians, including one I had been trying to build a relationship with.
I suddenly faced a decision. Do I go home and read blogs about being missional, or do I go to the club and actually be missional? It sounds like an easy decision, but it wasn't. In all honesty, part of me truly wanted to go to the comfort of home and just sit in front of my laptop.
That moment forced me to begin reflecting on how much time I spend on blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and other online social networking sites. I wondered, If I spent less time online, could I be spending more time building friendships? Have I become so consumed with reading about mission that I've forgotten to actually engage it? As these questions arose, I started to get uncomfortable.
Don't misunderstand me. I find blogs quite encouraging. I've learned a lot about missional living by reading insightful bloggers. I have even gotten reacquainted with non-Christian friends from years ago on Facebook. But in truth, the bulk of my Facebook time is spent conversing with Christian friends and other church leaders. And most of the missional discussion I read online does not include stories of people coming to faith, but theoretical definitions and debates about what being missional actually means.
Theories and definitions and debates are good, and they have their place, but could they be getting in the way of actually being on mission? After reflecting on my own habits, I concluded that in my life they were. I realized that I had subtly gotten drawn into the very thing I found so troubling about the Facebooking worship leader and the inattentive college students. I still read blogs and write one, too. But I'm trying to be much more intentional about finding balance and keeping my priorities right.
After wrestling with whether to go home and blog or go to the club and engage with my non-Christian friend, I finally came to the right decision. When I walked into the club, my friend saw me and immediately brought over a drink. We caught up on life, and after the show, he thanked me multiple times for coming. When his tour ends, we have plans to spend more time together. A friendship was deepened and an opportunity for the gospel was expanded, all because I chose to be missional rather than just blog about it.
Dan Kimball is the pastor of Vintage Faith Church in Santa Cruz, California.
Copyright © 2009 by the author or Christianity Today International/Leadership Journal.