Yesterday in a conversation with a colleague over coffee, I spoke of a ministry that I really believe that God is calling my church to begin. I feel very strongly that God is leading in this direction, but I am hesitant about sharing it with my church leadership, because I feel I already have so little time. As the conversation continued, I was bemoaning the fact that since seminary I seem not to be able to get around to reading books of a scholarly sort (or any books for that matter.) I feel as if my intellect is diminishing because I don't have time to engage in intelligent conversations with colleagues or read books beyond a few chapters here and there specifically pertaining to what I am working on at the moment.
He then asked about the things going on in my church and I was telling him about starting a liturgical dance group with youth in my congregation. He made some comment about my busyness, and I said, "oh well, I have fun with the girls in this group" and something about sometimes they make me want to pull out my hair. Going on with the tirade of things going on in the church, I seem to be directly involved in most of them. Then he commented about being too busy to read.
I have to face it, I denied it for years, but now I must face the truth. I have ITIS (I Think I'm Indispensable Syndrome.) You know anything ending in -itis, is an inflammation, and this seems to be an inflamed ego. Of course, I am so super special that it is only through me that all these ministries can occur.
The truth is, as sad as it is, I believe God is moving in this congregation, but I lack the faith to believe that they will follow through. The problem with having SuperSpecial-itis is that as United Methodist clergy we are itinerant. I have always voiced my belief that the laity should be empowered to be in ministry and to carry on through changes of pastors, so why am I having a problem now?
As clergy we are told that we are to cast a vision, but I struggle with how to do this. How do I cast a vision, a vision I see clearly? How do I show it to the congregation in such a way that they can see it clearly as well?
I receive monthly desk calendars with quippy sayings on the back from the local printing company. This month's quippy saying, "Vision is being able to see the invisible." (Pretty good timing don't you think.) The problem is I barely glance at these things and with the script font that they used, for two weeks I thought it said, "Vision is being able to see the irresistible." I think it is pretty good that I have bad eyesight, because I have spent two weeks trying to figure out how to make the vision I have for this congregation irresistible. Then, of course, I look more closely and realize that it is not irresistible, it is invisible. So great, now I am back to how do I make them see this as clearly as I do?
Oddly enough, I have firm faith and belief with all my heart that this vision is from God. So why does God only speak to me? Well of course, my rational self tells me, God doesn't only speak to me. I believe that this vision is from God, and God speaks to those in my congregation as well. "Have faith," I tell myself.
The colleague I was having coffee with advised me to see if I can get laity involved with this ministry. Later that day, I spoke with a pastor in another state that has begun the exact ministry that I am seeing. His advice? Get some of the leadership in my congregation involved and bring them to see how his congregation has begun this ministry. The only difference in the ministry I have envisioned and the one this pastor's church is currently doing is size of churches and communities. I still do not see this as a problem. God calls small churches to be in ministry, just as God calls the bigger churches to be in ministry.
So, I will cast this vision to the best of my ability to the leaders of my congregation and trust that if this is the direction that God is leading, this vision will take root and will speak to my leadership as well The other thought that is at the forefront of my mind is that I throw like a girl. : ) Pray for my and all congregations looking to the next stage of ministry out in the community.