Settled, Though Not

I’m glad to be able to say that when I leave Main Street Church I’ll be going directly to another Interim call at a UCC church in a town a bit closer to home. The final confirmation and contract-signing came this afternoon. I’m sure the church will eventually have its very own blog "nickname," but for now let’s just say there is a rather frightening amount of shopping very close at hand, including a retailer closely associated in many minds with Vacationland. Think hunting boots, and you’ll know just where I mean.

People seem to be asking me a lot about when I will get my "own" church, as if I’m temp-ing now. I find myself in a funny place about it. Right now this feels like the most faithful thing to be doing, and there is definitely a connection with the people at the church I will be serving, and even with the church itself.  Taken purely as a job, it seems like a good fit for my experience and skills, and on a personal level it feels like a good fit on the family front.

I often ask the question: How can this group of people be faithful to God in this time and place? And when I ask that question about myself, this feels like the answer, not the forever answer, and I’m not sure there really is one for any of us. Don’t we always need to ask the question, no matter what the terms of our agreements?

I continue to work with the Conference Minister on looking for the
right place for a new church start, and that will go on during this
next Interim. The need for new churches goes right along with a need to find new ways of doing  and being church, and I feel sure the next year or so will be as important in my deepening understanding of these needs as the past fifteen months have been for building confidence in areas of ministry in which I benefited from the affirmation of Main Street Church.

So, I’ll be settled, but not in the sense of a "settled" pastorate, the type that is indefinite in length. The important thing at this stage of my life seems to be keeping the home life "settled," because I think when you have a happy 7th grader, it’s a high value to keep things the way they are. This position will be significantly closer to home, and that is no small thing at times when The Princess and I are the only people at home.

I’m grateful to God and to all the people involved in the process, grateful for the opportunity to do ministry and to be invited into the lives of people and a church in a time of vulnerability and questioning, of visioning and discerning. If my inner process mirrors that of the church the way it seemed to do this past year, I foresee good work for all of us, settled or not.

(And the Starbucks across the street? Had nothing to do with the decision. It’s just the mocha on the cake.)

23 thoughts on “Settled, Though Not”

  1. How can I be faithful to God in this time and place . . .wow, that truly is the question we must ask, and ask often. Otherwise we are likely to make decisions – to stay, to go – that are about other things than faithfulness.
    Of course, it goes without saying, that part of being faithful to God is being faithful to our families.
    Blessings on finding the answer for you for this time and this place.

  2. ((( songbird ))) that sounds like just the right thing for now. none of us ever has a forever answer.

  3. Sounds great. Congratulations. Such a good feeling for me to know another UCC pastor! (even if it is through cyberspace and you’re probably 1500 miles away!)
    (I tagged you for a meme, Songbird)

  4. What you are doing is so very important in the life of any church, and the skills it takes to help a congregation honestly look at themselves and move forward are very honed and specialized. Not everyone is suited to do interim ministry, so you are providing such a gift. It’s what you are called to do, and you should be so very proud. Glad this assignment is closer to home… and Starbucks! :c)

  5. Interim ministry is a true call, too. It’s hard to find good interim pastors like you who will not only keep the church “afloat” but challenge the congregation to learn from the past without becoming stuck in it.
    I’m glad to hear you’re still looking at NCD ministry as well. That’s really exciting!

  6. Oh, good. Congratulations, and it must have come with a huge sigh of relief. A happy seventh grader is indeed worth preserving. Blessings to you and your family, the old church and the new.

  7. a starbucks across the street… sign from God indeed! and did you mention ‘mocha’… uh huh thought so.
    congrats on the new thing.

  8. I’m glad you can say this out loud now. I think that true interim ministry is such a gift to churches who are lucky enough to get it. So often around here, interims go to whatever “retired guy” will take it on for 15 hours a week. The church ends up getting hospital visits, funerals, and old sermons from a deep, deep bucket.
    The next called pastor ends up being the real interim. I know this all too well.
    You will be such a blessing to Not-Yet-Blog-Named Church!

  9. Good interims are such a gift to churches in transition; they will be lucky to have you and I’m glad you have a place to call your own for a bit. I hope it will turn out to be a fruitful time for all of you.

  10. As one preacher’s kid who WAS moved in 7th grade, I’m very glad to hear that this will work out well for your family. It’s been my experience growing up that it’s best to move kids when they’re young, and then by the time they hit junior high try to plan on sticking around. It’s actually caused me to consider being an intentional interim down the line to ensure that for my kids. But I still have a while to think about that.
    And regarding interim vs. “settled” pastorates, I once heard a colleague remark that in a way, we’re all interims. Whether that was a commentary on the current average stay of mainline pastors or a general observation about none of us sticking around forever, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share it.

  11. Good, intentional interim ministry is a huge gift to the Church and is such an important calling.
    Your gifts are glittering and obvious–
    hooray for the blessed congregation you will be serving.
    And hooray to have S-bucks, so close at hand.

  12. Our diocese is experiencing a real clergy shortage right now. Lots of holes and places in real trouble as their minister moves on– so the fact that you can offer solid ministry as an interim to an open congregation is so critical. May all of you be blessed by the experience.

  13. Congratulations. Glad to hear the good news. I can’t say it with the authority that some of those above do, but based on my experience as a congregant not too long ago, I agree that a good interim minister is a very, very valuable thing.

  14. I agree will what’s been said about interim ministry … and like Cheesehead, I know. In this new postmodern culture especially, we are all “transitional” pastors. And, I have to agree that the Starbucks across the street is the final affirmation of a great new call.
    Seriously, Congratulations, and blessings to you all.

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