Saturday, October 27, 2012

On Taking a Break, and Why That's Not a Bad Thing

In the world of relationships the phrase "taking a break" is usually a bad thing, at least for one of the parties involved...but in my church relationship, taking a break from lay ministry is, for the time being, a good thing.

Our team of lay ministers had been front and center in our congregation, either as assisting ministers or preachers, pretty much nonstop for the past couple of  years. With the arrival of our pastoral intern, we had to rethink the schedule; for the first couple of weeks we found ourselves trying to lead worship with an awkward trio of pastor, intern and lay assistant, something that felt like much of a muchness in our small, MOTR/down-the-candle congregation. And then one lay-preaching Sunday one of the other lay ministers delivered a sermon that was so -- well, without going into details, I'll just say, as a stunned listener in the pew, that it was not a good day for anyone, especially a hapless visitor, to have attended the service expecting a sermon compatible with Lutheran theology and comforting/edifying to the faithful  -- that at our next lay ministry meeting our pastor basically called a lay ministry time out, at least in terms of sermonating, for all of us for the near future.

My response? Relief. I'm tired, even with our relatively relaxed one-Sunday-on, three-Sundays-off rota. Especially in this past year when I was recovering from my seizure, sometimes not feeling steady on my pins or comfortable preparing for whatever the day entailed, this modest schedule was still a burden, especially if one of the other players needed a substitute on a given Sunday. It's also nice, frankly, to be able to sit in the pew with my partner and simply experience worship without having to lead it, especially now that we have a new voice and perspective in the pulpit.

I'm still our congregation's Facebook editor, a job that I spend, I think, a good hour on every day just providing some daily content to keep our page fresh and informative, and I'm happy doing that. We seem to have about 55 frequent fliers out of 167 "Likes," which I think is great considering our congregation's general lack of access to the Internet.

In the meantime, I'm rethinking my role in lay ministry -- not rethinking it all that hard, but wondering what the term "lay minister" even means, or at least what it means for me at this point in my life.  It's never been all that defined in our congregation.  Is it something that is useful to others and satisfying to me to a degree that makes me want to continue to be one? I don't know. But at least I have a hiatus in which to think about it. And to do other things.


PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

Change and rethinking can be good, if not forced upon us.

In our church, we've had lay assisting ministers for years and this is continuing. But with the last pastor being a woman, then the interim pastor being a woman, and the fill in part time interim being a woman, as well as the worship committee being all women, we've had just too many women in the front of the church. I've thought so anyway. It is just like the good ol boys network: easier to ask somebody you know well to step in to do something. There is no excuse for this, as several years ago, we had a lay leader workshop on a Saturday, and 18 people, showed up, including men. So there. In any case, a retired male pastor at our church talked to the interim pastor, a person he thought well of, and said TOO MANY WOMEN. And she said, Ok, will you find two male worship leaders for each month? And so he did and it is nice, as we have lots of great involved men at our church and they can do more than swing a hammer or hand out bulletins. Sometimes one just has to ask.

PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

Dang moderation. After trying three times, my comment disappeared and I still can't read the capcha.

LutheranChik said...

We have a pretty healthy gender ratio at our church, but I do notice a dearth of Sunday-School-age boys. Why? I don't know. Sometimes I detect a kind of reverse sexism among womenfolk -- you know, boys are so hopelessly dumb and uncivilized and hyperactive that it's all you can do to potty-train them and teach them to use eating utensils, and then they hit puberty and it gets even worse. I find this attitude as distasteful as misogyny (and interesting how a misogynist can also be a -- what? -- a misandrist?). When I was growing up my male friends had parents and other responsible adults who held them to extremely high standards, behaviorally and academically and in terms of being engaged in the life of the church, so I totally reject the whole men-are-from-Mars crap that I believe cripples boys as much as the women-are-from-Venus stereotypes hinder girls. And I also reject the idea that kids are inherently so "other" than adults that they get nothing out of adult worship and also can't be expected to act in a civilized way in worship. I know that's not true because I was a kid! Getting way off on a tangent, but "the soft prejudice of low expectations" is a topic that can get me really, really angry.