Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Observations after 2 years back ...

As many of you know, I stepped out of the role of being a local church Pastor for 10 years while serving at LifeWay Christian Resources. After growing up as a Pastor's Kid (PK), I had also served as a pastor for 12 years prior to going to LifeWay for a decade. ClearView called me to serve as Pastor beginning May 1, 2007 which means I have been back "in the saddle" for just over 2 years now (and loving it, by the way). In various settings I am asked questions about my observations since returning. Several questions are asked often:

1. What has changed most about Pastoring over the 10 years I was not serving as Pastor?It all has to do with technology. When I left the pastorate in 1997 the internet was in its infancy, email was not widespread, mobile phones were rare and then usually a cumbersome phone in a bag in the car, and social networking was not even a dream.
The result? In a word ... accessibility. With a blog, a facebook page, a twitter profile, a blackberry never further than a few feet away, and a church website with my email listed, I am accessible like never before. Please don't get me wrong, I love it. I enjoy reading twitters on the way to lunch every Sunday with feedback on the message for the morning. By late afternoon on Sundays I am usually checking facebook for those that check in through that channel. Then it's on to my email at pastor@clearview.org (try it now if you would like).
All of these channels help me as a pastor. In a church the size of ClearView there is great value in having the opportunity to follow the twitters of those in ClearView who use it, thus getting to know them in a way I could not otherwise. Through facebook I feel like I get to put faces with names and keep informed on activities members of ClearView. [More on the use of technology in ministry in a later blog]
Of course with the advantages comes danger ... the danger of never being unplugged. I try hard to stay completely unplugged on Thursdays during my most intense study time ... and on most Fridays (my day off).
2. What has not changed? People's need for Christ and the part Christ followers must play if more people are to be introduced to Him. I suppose it could be argued it is more difficult than ever to spread the Good News. I don't really think so. It's always been a challenge.
3. What has surprised me? Because of the position I served at LifeWay I don't think you could say I have been surprised by much. But one thing that has been so encouraging is the hunger the people of God seem to have for the Word of God ... at least at ClearView. I will call it a surprise ... and a pleasant one!
Maybe you have questions you would ask of someone returning to Pastor after a decade in another type ministry. You have the email address above or the comment section below. Fire away.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Fifty Year Anniversary - Honoring My Parents

No, it's not my fifty year wedding anniversary. It is my parents'. This past weekend we celebrated my parents' 50 year anniversary as well as 49 years in ministry. This was obviously a time of reflection for all of us. Given the task of "saying a few words" Sunday afternoon at the reception I tried to narrow it down to one meaningful word for each of them. So the question I asked myself was what one word best described each of them. Since you could not all be there, I thought I would share a bit of what I shared with the group gathered.

For my mom I chose the word "wise". If you don't know my mom, she is the quiet one in the family. She has always been most comfortable behind the scenes and out of the spotlight. I almost chose the word "servant" because she never stops doing just that ... serving. But the word that came to mind most was "wise". Mom is one of the wisest people I know when it comes to relationships, which is the toughest area for most people to deal with in a wise manner. Mom always seem to have something wise to share with me growing up whenever I found myself struggling with a relationship.
For my dad I chose "faith". As I told the crowd Sunday afternoon, I have at times referred to it as "crazy faith". Dad's level of faith would cause some surrounding him over the years to think it to be irrational. When I was in junior high school (7-9 grades) Dad "resigned" his salary saying we were going to believe God to meet our needs. I could not understand how we were going to eat or buy clothes, but God did just as dad believed He would. We never missed a meal and we certainly never went without clothes :-). We lived "by faith" as a family for months, led by the faith of dad. Oh yeah, the whole time, the guy in charge of looking after the "gifts" given to our family during that time by faithful and caring church members was stealing from the account!! And God still provided.
Funny thing, when I take spiritual gift inventories, to this day two of the gifts that tend to rise to the top consistently are: wisdom and faith. I don't know this to be a fact and I don't find it in Scripture, but I have to wonder if somehow the spiritual gifts of the parents are somehow embedded into the children.
Congratulations again to my mom and dad (Sally and Carl Marshall) on this milestone.