I am more than OK... I AM THRIVING!
I did have to shake my head though when I pulled up my blog just now and saw that I hadn't entered anything in just about a month. Yikes. Where did the time go?
So rather than drone on with a bullet list of what I am up to (I know I know, I have too many bullet lists....) I thought I would just share one update per post, and slowly fill things in as to what I've been up to. So here goes!
For this first entry, I don't know what to call it... The words "consulting" and "coaching" both have a negative ring to them for some, and I get a remark here and there at times when I use either one of these words to describe some of what I do now. What can I say? I love it, and it is really keeping me busy.
For lack of a better term, I come alongside pastors for a period of time and work with them on a variety of things. Since June 2009, I have met with youth pastors and directors from thirteen different churches located in Florida, Illinois, Washington, Nebraska, Arizona and California through a great group of people called Youth Ministry Architects. They gave me a chance when I first entered my big transition from day-to-day youth pastoring, and I am forever grateful to them.
And starting in March 2009 I have done the same thing with pastors in the Free Methodist Church in Southern California, having worked with twenty-one churches so far. I've fallen in love with the people and the denomination. They labor long and hard and often in anonymity. I have worked with churches from 30 to 800 people. I've been translated into Cantonese, preached to an entirely Latino congregation and even went to three different churches in one day. It's an adventure and I love it.
But let's get specific... What does this coaching / consulting / coming-alongside "thing" look like? Honestly, it varies every time because my first question inevitably is, "What do you need?" Rather than crank people through a gimmicky program, I simply try to bring a big toolbox of resources and experience to every situation. I listen a lot, take a whole lot of notes, brainstorm, and pray.
Quite possibly the most interesting part is how it all works out week by week... after an initial on-site visit where I get to know the pastor and the church a bit, I then meet regularly with them via online video calls. I'm at the point where I am on Skype or Google Hangout just about every day. For example, this was my schedule today:
- 9-10am: meet with campus pastor who has launched a new service reaching college students and young adults in So Cal.
- 10-11am: meet with a senior pastor who is leading a church in the High Desert as he ministers to military, Native Americans, retirees, young families, a Christian school and people in recovery.
- noon-1pm: work with a board member in Rancho Cucamonga to keep shaping our Center for Transformational Leadership. We have at least ten different leadership development projects going on with undegrad and grad students at Azusa Pacific and Westmont. But that's another blog post...
- 1-2pm: meet for monthly training with a middle school youth director in a Seattle suburb.
- 2-3pm: meet with an associate pastor in a town near downtown LA.
Isn't that crazy?? Yes, I take breaks to go to the bathroom and eat, but other than that it's a blinger of a day. Yes, I get a little hoarse, and I need a good bike ride after sitting that long, but I consider it an amazing privilege to come alongside these friends. We work on strategic planning, youth ministry, preaching calendars, cross-cultural ministry, staff development, time management, leadership development, new initiatives, spiritual formation, social media, pastoral care, you name it.
I read these verses this morning and they made me think of the churches and people I am working with right now. I praise God for the opportunities before me:
May God our Father and our Lord Jesus bring us to you very soon. And may the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows. May he, as a result, make your hearts strong, blameless, and holy as you stand before God our Father when our Lord Jesus comes again with all his holy people. Amen. (1Thessalonians 3:11-13)
Thanks for reading... much more to share in the days to come.