Dear Little One,
Today marks our 1 Year Anniversary of pastoral ministry at Monroe Free Methodist Church. Your Daddy was ordained last May, and appointed as Senior Pastor here in June. His first Sunday in the pulpit (and mine at the piano) was June 29th, 2014. It’s been a fast year, a hard year, a wonderful year. As I’ve told many who inquire how is it going? – this gig has a steep learning curve. There are so many lessons to be learned that can only be taught by experience, digging right in. I thought I’d share with you a few reflections from this first year.
No one ever taught me when to order Easter lilies or Palm fronds. (Fact: I didn’t even know how to spell “fronds” until right this moment.) I thought I was getting ahead of the curve when I called florists about lilies a good six weeks before Easter Sunday. Unfortunately, none of them even knew what their stock or prices would be at that point. I ended up rolling the dice and shopping at Meijer a week before the holiday. I paid about half what the florists were quoting me. Little did I know when I was failing at ordering lilies, that’s about the time when I should have been ordering Palm fronds. Thankfully a local garden center supplied us with the palms at the last minute.
I even had to email our conference office to find out whether to drape the cross with purple or white before and after Easter Sunday. This kind of stuff you just don’t think about when it’s always been “someone else’s” responsibility. Thank you, “someone else” for always doing those behind-the-scenes things in church.
Like making coffee. I barely know how to brew a cup of coffee with my Keurig, let alone make a pot for the morning church crew using the ancient Bunn Pour-omatic. I learned quickly when there was no one else to do it. (Though perhaps no one drinking my coffee might be a sign of something…)
Those first few months, I took it upon myself to “do it all.” I unlocked all the doors at the church. I turned on all the lights. I set up the coffee table. I turned on the heat. I prepped the sound system and the projector. I shoveled the sidewalks. And since it was part of my “office manager” job description, I also cleaned the bathrooms, restocked paper products, took out the trash, vacuumed the floors, washed the windows, and dusted.
And I got very bitter, very fast. I was so hurried and frazzled that I never had time to prepare my heart for leading worship, let alone get my head on straight for directing my team during rehearsal. I was short-fused, and something needed to give.
Eventually I began to hear the wisdom of my patient husband: Ask for help. Others have a desire and a gift to serve. They’re just waiting to be asked. When I finally hit the end of my rope, I called and emailed five or six people that very day, asking if they would help me shoulder these Sunday morning tasks. Every one of them said yes. The following Sunday I felt a million times lighter.
As we came into ministry at MFMC, I was moving on from my years of youth ministry and stepping into a new leadership role as worship director. The Lord had been preparing me for this work during the past 15 years of participation with worship teams. I have served as a vocalist and keyboardist on many occasions, loving every minute of using my gifts and training for God’s glory. But leading the ministry? That was uncharted territory.
Never before had it been my responsibility to select the music for the worship sets every-single-week, create new slides for every-single-song (while learning how to work the open source software called OpenLP), or coordinate Scripture volunteers and sound techs and ushers. And that’s when it was just me and a keyboard.
Our congregation was so receptive to my very quiet and contemplative style of worship leading. They came eager to learn and soaking in the new space we were creating in our corporate worship. I am so thankful for the grace they’ve shown as I’ve hit wrong notes, missed transitions, sang wrong words, or let my ego get in the way.
Over the next six months, God began gifting me with team members. As new friends were starting to attend our services it seemed many of them were interested in serving on the worship team. I began holding auditions, allowing me to hear their voices or instruments, and giving us time to dialog about their experience and their call to serve. To this day I am being BLOWN AWAY by the team God is forming. A year ago when it was just me up there, I couldn’t dream big enough. But here I am with a crew of 8 vocalists, 2 cajon (box drum) players, a cellist, a trumpeter, a clarinetist, a bass guitarist, 2 keyboardists, an acoustic guitarist, and me on our micro-grand electric piano. (Thank you, Craigslist.) WOAH, right?!
I love keeping things fresh every week, rotating vocalists and instrumentalists. This gives the team a chance to serve with new people and gain a unity among us, while giving our congregation the opportunity to welcome newness and change. Some weeks are “big” with the drum, bass, guitar, piano, and four vocalists. Other weeks are more acoustic, with two vocalists and a guitar or piano. I love it! Our practices are something we all look forward to and I am beyond impressed with the way every one of them comes to rehearsals prepared and on time. (And by “on time” I mean I get there a half hour early, and half the time a few of them beat me to the church.) Praise be to God for His goodness in knitting together a team of lead worshipers.
As I look back over this first year, I am amazed at the way our community has been changing and by the growth your Dad and I have experienced in our personal ministry areas. We love working together, complimenting each other’s abilities in a way only God could have ordained. He’s the big picture guy, I’m the detail planner. He preaches and teaches, while I coordinate and lead worship. We counsel couples togethers, we disciple individuals one-on-one. We meet together to plan the next few weeks or months of ministry. We have had to learn to take off the “husband and wife hats” and shift into “pastor and worship leader roles.” Together we set visions for teaching goals of our Sunday night series and take turns ironing out the details. He has mentored me into my Local Ministerial Candidacy and continually puts great trust in my leadership abilities, hardly ever questioning my plans or execution. I am so thankful for the way we work together and I am eager to continue in my track of ordination.
As you come into this world a bonafide Pastor’s (Pastors’) Kid, we are praying for you. May God grant you grace to follow Christ from a young age. May you learn to the love the Church. May you find your niche of service – even as a child – and thrive. May you experience the unique set of spiritual gifts God has ordained for your life. May you forgive your Mom and Dad when we make mistakes and tell us if you’re feeling left out or “second place” to church work. May you love our bedtime prayers and the liturgy of reading Scriptures together. May you ask questions and think critically and develop a worldview with Christ as your lens.
We can’t know how our ministry will change when you enter our lives. We believe our hearts will grow ten sizes, and we know our people are going to welcome you with arms wide open. We pray you will love growing up in the front row of church every Sunday, loving the Lectionary readings, and learning to sing the songs Monday through Saturday, and gleaning the Good News from your Daddy’s sermons.
Continuing in another year, by the Grace of God,