The Pool

The Pool is a metaphor for one of the most challenging aspects of pastoral ministry for me.

You might choose the metaphor of a group hiking trip, a group skiing trip, a group rafting trip – anything that involves a group of people at a variety of stages of experience and knowledge where consequences are involved, and you have the picture.

I love the pool – I even like the pool.

Some of the people in the pool are great swimmers, been doing it their whole lives.
Some of the people in the pool can’t swim yet but they enter the pool hoping to become swimmers.
Some people have been in the pool a long, long time, but they have never moved out of the shallow end.
Some people are decent swimmers and they move back and forth between the deep end and the shallow end, coaxing people to go deeper.
Some people are out in the deep end and they have neither time nor respect for the people in the shallows.
Some people are in the deep end and they inspire others to want to jump in and those that have already jumped in to move out a little deeper.
Some people have been so traumatized by a previous experience in the pool they’re just doing well to show up and stick their feet in.
Some people…well…you get the idea.

The challenge, for me, has been creating a pool experience that everyone gets the most out of and wherein everyone has the chance to become the best swimmer they can be, all while being totally immersed in the pool.

While some feel the water is too cold.
And some are bored and want a water slide like the pool their cousin attends.
While some feel the water is too hot.
And some are frustrated by how crowded it is in the pool.
While some seem to check out for weeks at a time.
And some are upset that the pool will close down if we don’t find more people to get in.
While some are so into the pool that they don’t know anyone still on dry land.
And some would prefer a segregated pool.

For some, messages are too basic. For some, too deep.

For some, we need more Bible. For some, we need more Spirit.

For some, we need more sizzle. For some, we need more quiet contemplation.

And for some…well…you get the idea.

Tuesdays are going to be Pastoral Ministry Tuesdays here at A Pastor’s Story. I’m going to share some of the day to day challenges of pastoral ministry – life at the Pool – and some honest reflections on this life that I feel I chose but I also feel chose me. One of my greatest challenges is being one of the leaders of a community that wants to follow Jesus that is made up of people coming from all kinds of different backgrounds and life experiences, expectations and hurts, perspectives and education. Attached to this challenge is another – a challenge to not give in to our consumer culture and turn to marketing, branding and franchising based on homogeneity, but to honor God’s beautiful mosaic rather than the cultural blender. Growing a diverse but harmonious family of Jesus followers is an altogether different proposition than developing a client base around brand recognition that increases our market share.

Tuesdays I’ll share with you the joys, the trials, the temptations and the amazing dreams that come true in a pastor’s story.

Credo Fridays

A lot has changed in the last 37 years. That’s how long I’ve been following Jesus.

Among the big things that have changed would have to be the things I believe.

My credo.

I’ll be doing “Credo Fridays” here on the blog where I will be unpacking the things I believe. Rich Mullins once sang, “…I believe what I believe it’s what makes me what I am / I did not make it, no it is making me…” and that’s what makes everyone’s credo so important, it shapes you, it forms you, it’s the spring from which your way of living flows.

Mine has changed so much over the last 37 years that the Bible College sophomore Brian would be the first in line to pick up a rock and stone the present-day pastor Brian as a heretic. Which is especially fun because that guy still lives in my head and pops up every now and then just to yell, “J’Accuse…!”

30 years ago, before email was a thing, I had a painful correspondence exchange with an older saint who had published an article in one of our denomination’s weekly publications. His assertion was that he had not changed his mind about a single doctrine of the Church in over 40 years. At 26, it was inconceivable to me that a person of his age had not changed his way of thinking about any of the things he believed about God. At the ripening older age of 56, I find it even harder to believe.

I am a work in progress and I find that I spend a great deal of time unlearning things I thought I knew and learning new things that are really old things that I’ve only just discovered. And while I have strong convictions about my credo, and while there are things I have come to believe that I don’t think I will ever be talked out of, my “certainty” pile has gotten smaller, not bigger over the last 30 years. My orthodoxy has become much more generous than the pharisaical days of my youth.

The credo I’ll be sharing is my own. Not my wife’s, not my family’s and certainly not my denominations. I’m not presenting it here to convince you to make it your credo. I’m writing out my credo to help me better know me and for anyone interested in knowing what makes me, me. The unintended side effect is that my transparency may alienate friends and even provoke people I love to walk away from me #smh. But if Recovery has taught me anything it’s that secrets kill us and honesty sets us free. So join me on Fridays for my Credo confessions as I unpack the beliefs that shape the person I am still becoming and explain some of the choices of my present and provoke my inner Bible college sophomore to look for something heavy to throw.

A New Journey Begins

I came home from the Camino de Santiago with a few mandates.

At the top of that list was to return to blogging.

A subheading for blogging was a list of things I should write about – dangerous (for me) things.

I’ve put starting this off for as long as I can.

I’ll be posting (at least) weekly and the subject matter will revolve around this pastor’s life. Like walking the Camino, everyone has their own approach to being a pastor but this will be a record, an explanation and an exploration of the pastor’s life I am choosing to live.

I’m both excited and scared to be getting out of the boat and starting this return to regular posts of some of the things I write. You’re welcome to “listen in,” react, comment, lurk or just pass on by.

Welcome to a pastor’s story.