Friday, March 12, 2010
Ministry Rubber: Meet Road
Our pastor is on the docket for open-heart surgery in less than two weeks. He had been experiencing fatigue and shortness of breath during his volunteer first-responder runs that were worrisome to him, more than something attributable to simply physical exertion or stress, so his doctor put him through some diagnostic tests...and found that he has a severely blocked artery needing a double bypass. This appears to have been a shock for all concerned.
So we've been given ten days to get a contingency plan together for how our church is going to run during the almost three months that we can reasonably expect our pastor to need for convalescence.
We had a meeting last night -- the pastor, the lay ministry team, the church council -- and we came up with a plan. What's good is that it's not going to rock the world of our congregation more than it has to be. After some pow-wowing with our synod, our pastor is going to invite his clergy colleague -- someone with expertise in interim ministry who's also comfortable working with lay ministers and who, through our pastor, is very much in tune to how things work in our parish -- to supervise and mentor us lay ministers for the months to come. We envision a weekly staff meeting. This pastor will also be available to do the sort of heavy-lifting pastoral duties that we are not authorized or trained to perform. But weekly worship and the everyday chaplaincy and visitation tasks of the parish, as well as the sort of drop-in/call-in support and referral work that goes on during the week, are all going to be our lay-ministry dog, Charlie Brown, as much as possible. We are also serving the secondary but important function of running interference for our pastor and his wife, who are already getting fatigue by the constant stream of well-wishers coming to the parsonage door, and who will really need their private, recuperative time after the surgery.
As you might recall, our pastor went on sabbatical last summer, an experience that gave us all a taste of how to "do church" in his absence. So we aren't deer-in-the-headlights here. In fact, after our meeting-of-the-whole, we lay ministers stayed afterward and hammered out a pretty comprehensive schedule for Sunday and Wednesday worship.
But it is a sobering situation, and a sobering responsibility. We hope we're up to it, and can invest the entire congregation in the process of keeping things going smoothly into the summer.
If you have a moment, send up a prayer for our pastor and his wife, and for our ministerial team.