Sunday, April 15, 2018

Revisioning Ministry in the 21st Century

Image result for cheshire cat grin

I wrote this blog entry on Saturday with the threat of a storm looming for the rest of that day and well into this one. It may mean cancellation of Sunday morning worship at Trenton United, our new church home. We make the 25 minute drive because son Isaac has been the minister there since the beginning of January and thankfully is a creative, thoughtful, and Christian worship leader. And we get to see the rest of the family, including out two beloved grandlads, to boot.

There is another service scheduled for today, Isaac's covenanting, which is supposedly at 2 PM. This is the service of welcome and promises involving the new minister, the congregation and the presbytery. It may be relegated to another date. I'm ready, though, as the preacher for this service. In all my years of ministry I can't recall a parent speaking at a child's covenanting, although it may happen more often than I know. I certainly consider it a unique privilege.

Isaac felt a sense of call early in his life, "kicked tires" with some other career options, and eventually returned to God's nudging toward ministry. While at seminary professors encouraged him toward the academic life because he has a fine theological mind but he's been steadfast that his calling is to pastoral ministry.

I wish I could claim to be a wonderfully supportive Dad in terms of that original call, but I wasn't always. Even though there are several generations of clergy on both sides of the family I'm a Babyboomer who has lived through the steady decline of the United Church as it ages and shrinks. I have no regrets about answering my own call, but there was a sense that we were becoming the denominational version of the Cheshire Cat, with little more than the grin left in place. I just wanted to protect my child from the frustration and heartache of these circumstances for his ministry.

Isaac sees it differently, accepting some aspects of a church radically different from the one in which he grew up and also willing to be imaginative in revisioning ministry for the twenty-first century. He realizes that he may not have the same length of ministry as his father or grandfathers. There is always a certain risk to answering the call of God, and maybe even a touch of madness.

I will pray that his gifts will be fulfilled and that there will be a blessing for the congregations he will serve.

As expected, today's services were cancelled and the Covenanting Service will be rescheduled.

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