Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Church planter cultivates relationships

Interesting week, this.

This afternoon, We are scheduled to rehearse “The Three Pigs,” a reader’s theatre offering through Hamilton-Gibson, our community theatre. I read the part of Bambi, the pig who wants a wood house. I say that last, because I don’t think that the pigs were named in the original story. My “costume” is a straw hat with really bright pink ears that I made from pink construction paper. Then this evening, we rehearse a 10-minute play about a Christmas tree. I am co-director.

Some might question how community theatre relates to planting a new church and the skeptic might not like my answer. The answer, from my perspective, is that I have to be involved in as many aspects of community life as possible to get my name and the name and our new congregation into the public domain. Looking through my Daytimer, any person who is totally “left-brained” that is, logical, sequential, rational and analytical would certainly doubt the value of my week: play rehearsal (two plays), Kiwanis, Rotary, University community group, Tioga County Community Health Partnership, Friday Club, Art group, dream group are part of what I am scheduled to do. This more linear person might wonder how this builds a church. This linear person would think I am not going forth and offering God to people. But I am doing just that.

Last week, as part of what I receive from this community involvement, I was invited to give the invocation and benediction for a new community group that invited me to become a member. at such event, the prayers are inclusive and I try to be sensitive (see the blog about Interfaith from a week or so ago) to those in the room, that is, to “preach” not to the choir, but to those gathered. After the invocation and the benediction/grace, several people – most of whom I did not know – complimented me on the wording and the sensitivity of these public prayers. Several days later, a companion on the bus trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake Ontario, Canada did the same.

My activities this week that are evangelical include the same variety as my community presence does. On Wednesday, I write the Midweek Message for the Wellsboro/Mansfield Gazette, our local paper. I will meet with colleagues for a lectionary group to sort out Sunday’s sermon, I will meet with our newly formed pastoral relations committee (Friday evening) and write a sermon and produce the weekly bulletin for Sunday. In addition, I will spend at least one hour a day responding to emails that I receive – many of which are about global activities in which our two denominations participate. I will send positive thoughts to our newly formed prayer quad. Among the less –pleasant pastoral tasks was this: early this morning, I had to tell a man who is traveling from Massachusetts to New Mexico that I have no funds to help with gas, bus ticket, lodging or food. What a terrible thing – denying help. I feel terrible not to help. Yet, there are so many who are in need and our already limited resources dwindle as more and more of our congregation feels the pressure of the recession.

Sometimes I imagine that God is watching - trying to find out what I am going around in these circles for. Why don't I just walk up to people and invite them to join our congregaion on Sunday. I wonder, too. But I understand that not everyone appreciates my progressive stance on living as a 21st Century Christian. I hope that my actions will show how we live as progressive Christians and maybe then some of the unchurched community will come.

Interesting work, this.

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