Wednesday, February 28, 2007

What's My Motivation?

Murphy's Law -- a huge, icy storm system is bearing down on Michigan, due to hit when I'm supposed to drive two hours up north to my next lay ministry retreat. It sounds like a great retreat -- studying the Psalms with Lisa Dahill, author of Truly Present.

My initial reaction, however, upon hearing the increasingly hysterical weather reports: I'm not killing myself for the ELCA.

I don't think I have ever been less motivated to continue in this program...not only because of The Troubles in my denomination, but because I've discovered I just don't understand the why of my particular track within lay ministry; ironically, this hit home for me most acutely after our last "Skill Day," when a variety of synodical folks made pitches for various lay ministry options in the ELCA.

In my program, we have no mentoring except for group discussions with a program graduate; and some vague, secretive evaluation process that I am apparently not invited to be an active participant in. Apart from threats to make us sign the Visions and Expectations document, I don't understand what the qualifying competencies are for graduation, or whatever it is that we do when we're through. Maybe there aren't any. Maybe this is just the churchy equivalent of the adult enrichment classes down at the community college.

I get the feeling that no one really gives a damn. And I fear that the "no one" is soon going to include me.


LoieJ said...

I was sort of arguing with you on this point, at least in my head, a year ago. But now I think you must be right.

I am acquainted with a woman of talent who is certified as an AIM, did a year of internship besides the classes, and still isn't employed by the church. Her sense is that the bishop's office doesn't give out her name to churches. She says that the churches aren't asking for AIMs, but that the bishop's office isn't telling churches that AIMs exist. Hmmmmmmm

OTOH, lay leaders often "bloom where they are planted" rather than move to "follow a call." And that woman doesn't want to move. So if a lay leader aspires to move up to the level of AIM, then maybe that lay leader also has to be more open to possibilities.

I'm not sure what you are aspiring to and what your program's goals are. But from what you blog about now and then, there seems to be either a mis-match or the program's goals are not in line with the content.

LutheranChik said...

I think it's even less a matter of vocation than it is of being part of an endeavor where no one seems to care. I only get communications from the facilitators when they confirm my lodging; and I get no feedback from my feedback forms. It's like I'm invisible. And others I've spoken to have had the same experience. So I'm invisible in this program that doesn't seem to matter, with the added feature of being part of a denomination that doesn't seem to want me anyway. Feel the love!

(Obviously the Faith Beyond Resentment book hasn't kicked in yet.)

chartreuseova said...

There's a Faith Beyond Resentment book? ;-) I think I need to read it too.

Sally said...

Know just where you are! Prayers for blessings....
...and that is a good book!

Ruth said...

I'll say it again as an ELCA person...I want you here! :) I've been reading the rostered ministries material...I really haven't been able to understand the point of going through the AIM be a Youth Minister is about the most I can see....and even then you'd better be living in Minnesota. Considering that I was the only person from New England at the youth ministry event in Tampa....and I'm a volunteer!

LoieJ said...

My AIM friend who doesn't have a job went to a national AIM conference. She was discouraged. She said many AIMS were stuck being something equivalent to church secretary with the name AIM. But a mutual friend, also an AIM, is a pastor in ALL ways, except salary. Maybe that is too much to ask, in general, because pastors would feel threatened.

Maybe someone needs to address why pastors don't encourage this and why they feel that way.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I know how this feels in spades... Up here in the ELCIC, I get the distinct impression that everybody wants me to becomes a minister except the ELCIC.

First of all, we had this thing called "It's Your Call Sunday" in which congregations were supposed to put forward the names of members that they thought would be suited to ordained ministry, in order that said individuals might be contacted. I wanted to be a minister before this Sunday, but even afterwards, I had to hound THEM down. Not a soul followed up on "It's Your Call" for either of us in my church who were named.

So the ordination committee finally assigned me a relator after I had to rush all my application materials to them because they took their sweet time. Now, a relator is supposed ot guide you through all this process, which in my case means that I might get a brief status e-mail every 6 months or so. Believe it or not, I actually forgot his name for a couple months!

That's just the committee. Seminary is a whole other can of frustration. It took them over 6 months to mail me an information packet, and after several months, I finally had to send them a politely angry letter asking for some straight up info about whether or not I would even have to go there or if I could just go to another seminary. I've been waiting for a week to get a response on an e-mail to the residence asking if each room has its own bathroom and internet connection.

To really rub it in, my United Church of Canada chaplain exclaimed that this sort of thing wouldn't happen in his church... They have this whole year-long discernment process in which your relators are actively involved. And after I got prompt information in the mail from a non-Lutheran seminary, they followed it up by a telephone call. WOW.

Now, whenever I see the bishops and Canada Lutheran magazine wringing its hands over the vocations crisis and asking "who will answer the call?" my response is a bitter grin and the question of "who will pick up the phone?"

LutheranChik said...

Cory, my observation of the ECUSA discernment process is that it's taken much more seriously...something I've noted in my retreat feedback forms. But of course, no one's responded to me about my comments.