Discernment

Here’s the Thing

Dear Readers,

Enough allusions and vague references. Here is the thing that has been on my mind.

In late September, my denominational executive person, known in our tradition as a Conference Minister, asked if I would consider becoming a new church developer.

His email came within a day of my offering up this prayer:

"God, I’m ready to do whatever you want me to do next. I’m not sure what it is, but I’m ready."

Ever since then I’ve been engaged in a shy sort of discernment, backing away from the idea at the same time that I was participating in the screening process our national church has for potential new church developers. It’s become pretty clear that the only thing holding me back is worry about how the whole thing will be financed. Oh, I came up with a few other questions and concerns, but that is truly the major one. I’m the primary support of my children, and although #1 Son’s last tuition check will be sent soon, there are two more children to educate. How do I weigh my responsibility to them against my commitment to God?

It probably won’t surprise you to hear that I’ve grappled with this question before, wondering if my work would get in the way of some fruitful aspect of their growing-up lives.

And to be clear with myself, it hasn’t.

But wherever the location of a new church might turn out to be, it won’t be right here in City By the Sea, so the unsettling questions of a possible move come into play, and I do find that is one of the areas of difficulty for me. I hear other pastors talk about conducting national searches, and as much as I do not feel called away from Vacationland, I envy that freedom.

Things we envy? Not good guidelines for a faithful life.

Things we love? Things we aspire to? Areas in which we thrive? Better signposts.

Last month, after my aptitude test scores came back and were high, the Conference Minister and I began to form a committee to study the idea of a new church start further. The committee met for the first time today. As we studied demographic materials and a UCC guide for new church starts, we wondered if the first thing to do was pick the location?

The one person there who knows me the least said things like this: You need to start with the person. New church ministry is incarnational. It starts with a person who is a bit of a fanatic, more evangelical than the average UCC pastor and eager to do the work. (He may have made those persons sound a little crazy, but in a good way.)

I’m pretty sure, though I left there with a bit of a dazed quality, that I said yes to going on to the next step in the process.

Well, really, I did say yes. I’m just a bit amazed at the whole thing and finding it hard to wrap my head all the way around it.

There are three areas in the state that are under consideration, all of which came to the Conference Minister’s attention from people local to those areas. Now we will begin a round of conversations with clergy and laity in those areas and see what the Spirit of God reveals. And in the meantime, I will move on to another interim when this one ends.

I’m ready to spong.

Yours fanatically,
Songbird

37 thoughts on “Here’s the Thing”

  1. You.rock. We will be sisters in a new way. The Centro startup has been one of the best things I will ever have done with my life. Way will open.

  2. Awesome! Excited for you! Can’t wait to see how God brings some glory on through your obedience…
    And I LOVE the new picture of you!!!

  3. What a wonderful gift! Most of the really wonderful gifts, I’ve noticed, seem to come with lots of implications for the gifted person and her family, friends, life, etc. They’re not always easy, these gifts of God; but all things come together for good, no?
    Blessings as you continue to discern where God is calling you!

  4. How wonderful to read about a new church developing, instead of an established church dying!!! And you would be the perfect pastor in my mind to do this.
    And your new picture is amazing. You look rested, full of zip and 10 years younger than before. Which I estimate puts you at 18.

  5. spong away, my friend…I’m so glad that this is now blog-public at least and that things are moving onwards.
    It’s wonderful and exciting and a joy to watch xxx

  6. Well, if this is meant to be, all the stars will align and you will be sponging to beat the band! Can’t wait to hear how it all plays out. (P.S. I think you’d be great in a role like this!)

  7. I know this….God took care of you when it was bad times. God will take care of you now sweet songbird. It all has a way of working out.
    I am so very very excited for you!

  8. I’m so happy to hear “the rest of the story.” My presbytery has 18 new church developments going right now and those who work in that area tell me that picking the right organizing pastor is the most important decision that is made. You’ll be great wherever God leads. I’ll keep praying!

  9. Verrrry cool! And can I just say that there are no UCC churches here and the vast majority of the local gentry don’t even know what it is?
    And the winter weather is fabulously mild.
    And there are no trees mucking up your views of the fabulous sunsets.
    And the Tex-Mex is to die for.
    Hint, hint.

  10. I could have sworn I left a comment yesterday…! Songbird, this is a holy moment for you. Every blessing as you discern and follow, a step at a time.
    Mags

  11. Ok, a day late, but glad I made it back here to read this! Yay!! Yay!!! Yay!!!
    I think you have a good plan, another interim, and more exploration…still time to see where this leads!

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