I try to remind my students each week that they are loved. It seems to be sinking in because they are returning the message. This note was floating around yesterday in the mailboxes of the rest of the pastoral staff...
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
At Christmas we hit the brakes with our student ministry. We give everyone three solid weeks off. No midweek Bible studies, no big events, no New Year's lock-in, no small groups. Nothing.
Personally, I have never been a fan of cramming more events into the Christmas season for our students and their families. It is already busy enough. Christmas concerts, work parties, traveling, family shindigs, exams, longer work schedules, shopping trips...do I need to go on?
I also believe that the break is healthy for us, and here are the main reasons:
It allows our leaders to rest.Our leadership team works their collective butts off week in and week out. They show up early, they stay late. They lead small groups. They go for coffee. And this is all in the midst of their own lives of classes, homework, jobs and relationships. One way I can say I'm thankful for them is to give them some time off.
It builds excitement for the new year.Isn't there a saying that "absence makes the heart grow fonder?"It's a lot like summer vacation when you were in school. You were always happy to have a break, but usually at some point you actually looked forward to getting back to school so you could be around all your friends again. Our break gives us all that more excitement when the New Year finally lands. Instead of being in a rut from routine, we are looking forward to being together again.It gives me more time.Believe it or not, I gain from this too. And I'm not ashamed to admit it. I get a few more office hours to get ahead on planning for the upcoming year. I have space to grab coffee and lunch with people. And I get a few extra nights at home with my family. It's not like I'm overworked with my hours. My church has been great about that. But it's still a nice change of pace to be able to be home for a Monday or Wednesday evening.
(I imagine I'll get an email about it this year now that I've written this...)
Friday, December 09, 2011
Thursday, December 08, 2011
Here are a few of the FAQ's that have been asked since my resignation was made public:
How long have you known?
This is not a decision made overnight and it's been in the works for some time. But I can say that we committed to it on October 29th. My lead and exec pastors were informed after a staff meeting on November 1st. The rest of the pastoral team found out 2 days later. And then it was all a matter of timing about when the news went public on a bigger scale.
Why February 15th?
There's a few reasons for this. First, it will mark 6 years for me here at Sevenoaks.Second, who wants to be saying a bunch of goodbyes during the Christmas season? Nobody. It will give us lots of time once the Christmas season is over to say goodbye and to make sure we have everything in place for our students & leaders before we leave.
Will you reconsider or change your mind?
I'm amazed how many people wonder if we will change our mind. I'll take it as a compliment. But no, we're not looking at changing our mind on this one. Six figures might get us to consider it though. Just kidding! (Or am I?)
(I hope it's not too soon to joke a little about this...)
What will you do next?
I'm not 100% sure, which is a little frightening. I have a packet full of MDiv details to wade through this week. Maybe that. Or maybe start looking for a new ministry position. I did hear of an opening in Hawaii...
Will you still be a youth pastor?
I don't know. This is one of the questions I have about my own ministry fit. I've been working full time with students for almost 11 years. I have not just enjoyed it, I have loved it. I could probably do it again. But I'm not convinced that God isn't going to lead me to do something else. Why? Youth ministry is safe for me. I know how to "do the job" and I have been led to believe that I can do a good job at it. But I also feel God may want me to take on something else so that He can continue to shape me and so that I can increase my ability to trust Him and rely on Him. This is something where I feel I need to at least ask some of the big questions before I jump straight into a new youth ministry position. That said, if God says to keep working with students, I will.
Are you moving?
Most likely. We're just not sure when. Our house is up for sale, but believe it or not that is currently unrelated to our resignation. For now, even if the house sells, our plan is to remain in Abbotsford for the remainder of the school year as Erin and the kids need to finish out the school year. Where we end up after that is a complete unknown.
Will you still attend church here?As of Feb 15 we will be taking some time off. I feel it is important, as much for me as for everyone else, to create some space. We don't expect to be strangers though. Our hope is to be able to visit in the future! And the loving and affirming responses we are receiving from everyone lead us to believe this won't e a problem.
Will the church hire a replacement?
That will be a decision that is up to the board of elders. I would guess that they would probably try to hire someone at some point. But your guess is as good as mine as to when or how that will happen.
If you have another question, fire away and I will try to answer it if I can.
Friday, December 02, 2011
I'll try not to be cliche with this.
It's been a crazy couple weeks...
I don't know how to put into words...
There are so many emotions...
(I think cliches may actually fit.)
I'll get to the point. I have officially resigned as Pastor of Student Ministries at Sevenoaks.
The last few years have been particularly difficult and I find myself weary and worn out. I also find myself having questions about my own ministry fit here. I could probably write separate posts about each of those facts (and maybe I should), but let it suffice to say that it has become clear that this is a chapter of life and ministry that needs to come to a close.
We will be on staff until February 15 which will give us plenty of time to enjoy Christmas without having to say too many goodbyes. It will also give us plenty of time in the New Year to get things in order for the student ministry to transition as smoothly as possible after our departure.
This shouldn't be too difficult since our volunteer youth leaders are solid gold. They are very good at what they do and I think they have everything they need in order to continue on long after I step away.
What's next? At this stage we are still trying to figure that out. I have a few ideas bouncing around in my head. I'm asking some questions. I'm looking for answers. And I'm just trying to listen carefully. I'll probably be a bit more proactive about this in the weeks to come as the news starts to settle down a bit.
I don't feel as though God has not released me from my calling to full time ministry. I don't feel like He is asking me to start cutting lawns (at least not yet). But I do feel like He might have something different for me. I won't lie. I'm a little nervous. But I'm confident that this is the step that needs to be made.
Thursday, December 01, 2011
I've had a copy of The Voice sitting on my shelf for long enough that I had almost forgotten about it. As a Pastor to students I am often on the lookout for Bible translations that will help engage students in the Word of God. I'm not keen on the gimmicky nature of many of these "translations" that in reality do nothing more than just try to make the Bible look like it belongs on the shelf of the local 7-11.
The Voice at first glance doesn't seem quite as gimmicky. They pride themselves on bringing together voices of scholars, artists, pastors and writers to provide a fresh translation. They attempt to set up the New Testament to read a little more like a drama script while adding boxes of subtext to further explain the content in a particular passage of Scripture.
For the most part it reads as a hipper, less gimmicky translation for artists. I didn't find much by way of content (it seems a little strange writing that about the Bible, but I'm actually talking about the extra-Biblical content here) that had me struggling with what they were doing. I'm sure that some people would read it and love it and engage with it. But I have yet to find myself in a position where I was suggesting that one of my students pick a copy up.
*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive or negative review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and may not be all that good. Take it for what it's worth...