Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Finding My Voice

I’ve been at my internship for two-and-a-half weeks already.  The Senior Pastor has been gone for about 10 days and so far the only thing I’ve needed to call him for was to get the access code for his voicemail. 

I must say that now that I’ve been back behind a desk again for a few weeks, I really missed it.  For the past two years I’ve tried to make school my job, but it really isn’t the same. As strange as this might sound to many, I like coming into the office everyday.  I find much more freedom in that than I do in being  a student. 

Don’t hear me wrong on that – I  am very appreciative for my education and I really do enjoy my studying but my time at school has always been a means to an end for me.  The purpose of my seminary education is SO THAT I can be a pastor.  And serving in the role (kind of) for the past few weeks – it fits me well.

For the last two Sundays, I prepared and delivered two sermons each weeks, participated in a few meetings and made a few pastoral care calls.  We’ve talked it in seminary and I’ve kind of sensed this was the case, but pastoral care is a vital component to effective ministry.  In my opinion, it doesn’t matter how good a preacher is on Sundays on the pulpit, if he or she can’t relate to you during the week and be a model for what they are preaching – it’s all for naught.

As much of a ‘people-person’ that I am, I’ve found preaching easier than pastoral care.  I think  that’s because good pastoral care requires a deeper knowledge of the people you are calling in.  When a pastor is in the pulpit, there is a bit of distance – literally and figuratively.  When you are sitting at a bedside bot the literal and figurative distance is gone. It’s just you and the person that needs you.  It’s a very different kind of preaching, but I’m convinced that it’s preaching nonetheless.  More on that some other time…

One of the things I wanted for myself out of this internship was to get a good handle on how to manage my time.  How long will it (should it) take me to write two sermons each week?  How time will I have/need for pastoral care?  How do I decide which is more important?  What about administration?  For the most part, I feel pretty good about how I’ve balanced all of that.  I haven’t been stressed and I feel like I’ve managed my time well.  Having worked in other jobs that required strong time management skills have been key for me in that regard, I think.

All of this is what I mean by finding my voice.  How will people see and hear me as a pastor and how will see and hear myself?    What will come easier for me and what will I need to work at more?  I am finding my voice on the pulpit and at the bedside and behind the desk – all three are important voices to develop and develop well.

All in all, it’s been a good start.  I like it.  It feels right.  And the congregation has been gracious and helpful with their comments and feedback.  The strangest part of it all is that in seven weeks it’ll be all over. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Summer Internship Begins

Today marks the completion of my first full week as “Summer Intern” at Seymour CRC in Grand Rapids.  Today also marks the first full day of summer vacation for Zachary and Bethany.  Indeed, there is much to be excited about on all fronts! =)

I am really looking forward to my work here this summer.  The majority of my time will consist of sermon preparation as I will be preaching 14 times over 9 Sundays.  In addition to that, I will attend several committee and council meetings, participate in a church-sponsored Summer Camp for single parents and their kids, research and recommend a new committee structure for the church, make pastoral care calls and visits, and (Lord willing) tag-along on a youth group outing to Cedar Point Amusement Park at the end of June.  It should be a pretty great summer.

It’s been a good week of getting settled.  I got both of my sermons written for Sunday, went along on a couple of pastoral care visits, went to a few meetings and got a good jump on my morning sermon for next Sunday. 

I’m fortunate to work with a great group of staff members at a church we are already well acquainted with.  I like the rhythm of being at a ‘regular job’ again too.  I do miss that about school and look forward to being back in a working mode again.  I hope to establish healthy habits for work and home that will set me up well for later ministry. 

I’ll try and ‘report in’ every so often to let everyone know how it’s going.  I’m excited and am already getting a little nervous for Sunday morning!