What a month!

“Well. What was meant to be a weekly journal has unfortunately become a monthly journal with this being the second in the series for school (YLTP). And what a month! Drama drama drama! I guess I better get used to it! Apparently this is life as usual for the full time ministry worker. So I’m just going to have to pull my socks up and dig in!

Same deal as before, there’s no way my busy teacher and cohorts will have time to read all this. So I’ve put the school related section in the indented quotation as is this paragraph.

My youth pastor and mentor during my internship, has gone away on a very much needed 6 month sabbatical. This is great news for him, and I anticipated that it would be quite exciting for me as well. A chance for me to test my ability without the support of a wiser, stronger, more experienced aid…  What was I thinking!?!? Excitement gradually turned into intense overwhelming pressure in about 4-5 weeks. I’m blessed to be surrounded by the caring  pastors, staff and other leaders in Campbell River otherwise I think my mentality and spirituality would probably be resemble week old, burnt toast.

Although, of course, I did learn lots throughout this test. One thing stands out more than anything else; I have grown a very deep respect for my Youth Pastor and his selfless commitment to the Youth of Campbell River, I can really appreciate our churches action in sending him on sabbatical after almost 11 years!!! Some other things I’ve learned are:

  • My eyes are bigger than my capability. Meaning; a character or personality trait of mine is to desire more responsibility than I can actually handle. In future I must be more careful to properly assess my capability to do the task I am being offered. In this case I said yes in the beginning, not knowing just how demanding the task would be and what it would grow to. I assumed that I would be able to figure it out as I went. What I didn’t think of was when would I have the time I need to figure it out. Family, work, and school are three high priorities in my life and all three we seriously compromised because I “bit off more than I can chew…” Bummer! Something to remember for next time for sure!
  • Nothing substitutes experience. Yes everyone knows that. But in the past it’s always been said to me in the context of, ‘you can do it if you have the experience’, to which I would always answer ‘my experiences do contribute to my ability for this’. In this case what I’ve learned is; Stan’s long time experience as a Youth Pastor at CRBC was a big contributor to his ability to perform so many various tasks, so effectively on a daily/weekly basis. Stan’s experience is probably his most utilized tool! For me to do his job without that tool, is like trying to be a designer without a measuring tool!
  • Church politics maybe ridiculous, but that doesn’t make them go away. Parents, kids, people completely disconnected from the church… they all have something to say about how your handling whatever they consider to be important. The vast majority have offered kind words, but it seems there will always be the tenacious few who see nothing but flaws and will fight to the end to make sure my flaws are straightened. I’m being a little dramatic, but when the pressure is on, the political nightmares seem to increase! The encouragement I have received regarding this is simply “You’re lucky you’re an intern.” An intern gets to see some of the warfare, but has no rite regarding any of it, which serves as a shield against getting in to deep. While taking on more than I should have, I kind of wandered outside of the protection of that shield. Without the experience of a Youth Pastor, I became very easily discouraged. Yes – this is a lesson learned for me!

Is there any good news to report. Well of course there is. Our God is faithful!

An interim pastor has come to our aid. HORAY! He and I have met twice to talk about his hopes for his term. I feel incredibly blessed to serve under him. Best of all, I feel relieved. Now I can be an intern again! I can consider completing school work without getting depressed, and I can function at my day job without looking and working like a zombie. Finally I can go home to my wife without feeling the pressure to download onto her all the stress of feeling overwhelmed, while she grows in frustration because I’m never available…  Yes. This is very good news!

Some other good news is regarding our Sunday School program. Because the the actual weekly ‘youth group’ program I was running on my own didn’t allow for much spiritual content I had been using the Youth Sunday School class as the major avenue for spiritual growth and community. Although the situation was not ideal, there was definitely a benefit to meeting with a smaller group to share matters of discipleship. Discipleship, I’m really growing to love that word. Although I’m finding many people feel a negative connotation to the actual word, I’m thankful that the teaching and encouragement I’ve had regarding discipleship has been very compelling and motivating! I’ve pretty much been using the Sunday School class avenue as a chance to share what I’m learning about discipleship.

From the first week to the most recent, Sunday School has gone through:

  1. Christianity IS Discipleship: There is no middle ground for those who call themselves Christians, there is no higher level for the more committed. Jesus calls his followers to discipleship. Mat 28:20, Luke 9:23-25.
  2. Spiritual Disciplines: Discipleship implies and employs discipline. Just like an athlete trains and disciplines his body for sport, so a follower of Christ must use disciplines to build spiritual foundations, agility etc. 1 Cor 9:25, Hebrews 5:14
  3. Denying Self: Everyone here knows that we need to repent of our sin, but what does that look like on a day-by-day, moment-by-moment basis? What about when we eat too many M&M’s or spend to much time watching movies? We are called to give our entire selves over as worship, with nothing to spare. Luke 9:23-25. Romans 12:1
  4. Religiosity: Also known as Repenting of your religion. Some times we confuse discipleship with tradition–and religion is like tradition on steroids. It’s when our “worship” becomes more about complying to the cultural do’s and don’t of Christianity–it’s fake Christianity and Jesus hatesit! Mat 23:13-15, Luke 10 25-37, Gal 6:4
  5. Community: Community is valuable to God and he integrated it into our existence! Marriage, nations/cities, church, family; all are transcended from the community of the Trinity. God created to function together as exemplified by the Word’s many ‘one anothers’, Listen, sympathize, encourage, pray, preach to, and encourage each other in community.

To be quite honest, it’s been kinda hard to gauge how effective all this has been. The only evidence I have of anything sinking in is the the questions I get at the end.  There are a couple of older kids who like to call themselves the Beroeans who have their hand raised for every question I ask. They tend to dominate the ‘crowd participation’, and though I do appreictae their participation– they can make it hard to connect with the others. Last Sunday was probably my most encouraging of them all.

I had been pushing the kids each week to open up about things in their own lives they may be holding back from worship. To encourage them I shared about how I can indulge on M&Ms and other candy to the point of idolatry and I speed while driving which is means I’m dis-obeying God’s word in Romans 13. My ambition was to help them dismiss the fear of public failure and embrace the self denial for the sake of Jesus. The response at first was –– pretty depressing. Apparently no-one had anything to deny…
Last week’s Sunday School topic was Community. After explaining the principal I split everyone into smaller groups and asked them to go through a list with each other. The list showed:

  • Listen to each other: Actually try to understand what’s going on
  • Sympathize & share with each other: Put yourself in each others shoes
  • Encourage each other: With understanding, hope conviction and faith in God’s sovereignty
  • Pray with each other: Ask/thank God for love, mercy, wisdom, and strength
  • Bible each other: Share the word. If you don’t know what to share–ask someone! Then mark the passage shared with you and try to memorize it. (I was actually going to write ‘Preach to each other’, but I was afraid they get the wrong idea)
  • Keep each other: Check up on each other. Check each other’s verse memorization.

Finally they got it (PTL). They began to share with each other and recognize things in each others lives that they needed to give to God, things they had in common.

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