Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Part Deux: Cutting a CD

So...cutting a CD is humbling.  VERY humbling.  As it turns out shower/car voice is not the same as recording studio voice.  It was very humbling, but I had a lot of fun.  It stretched me because I don't really like stepping out of my comfort zone; but it's a new year and I'm trying.  (Also mad props to the minstrels out there.  Hours and hours of singing is hard work.)

Due to last minute schedule conflicts, there were only five of us at the studio.  Three Methodists, one Episcopal and one Baptist.  Four gents and one lady.  No pressure...amiright Lady Katie?  In the end I sounded a bit like a nervous Cindy Loo Hoo accompanying a strapping barbershop quartet. The men sounded wonderful!

In one of my favorite Bill Smith sermons he compared the Christian family to an orchestra.  Let's say Baptists play trumpets; Methodists percussion; Episcopals flutes; Lutherans tubas and Presbyterians trombones.  We are all part of a great concert together.  And even if we take turns trying to lure him off the podium, Jesus is in charge.  Jesus is the drum major.  At our worst, we sound like a train wreck.  No one pays attention to the drum major.  No one tries to stay together.  We accuse other sections of being out of tune.

At our best however we can make beautiful music. At our best harmony is made.  We play different notes and different instruments, but together we make a rich sound.  We need each other to make beautiful music.  We really do.  A flute trio is nice.  A tuba choir is fun...but together we are capable of making music the world wants to hear.  Isn't that an exciting thought?

Yes we are different.  Yes we will disagree.  Yes it seems like others are out of tune and maybe they are; but shouting at one another in the band room doesn't help much!  (Trust me:  Band drama is not only a nerdy cliché.  It is actually the worst.)  With all due respect, let's work on our own parts.  Sometimes the most discord comes from those within our own sections (ahem...Baptists.  I'm pointing at myself too.)  So let's get ourselves in tune.  Let's focus on blending with the other parts to make beautiful music.  It's 2013 and we all need each other. 

Alright:  This metaphor needs a rest (get it?  music?  rest?:)) but I am grateful for the opportunity to make music with brothers and sisters.  I am grateful to study scripture, eat and sing with these colleagues weekly.  It makes me better.  Thanks Jesus for the diversity of your orchestra. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Do we need Martha Stearns Marshall month?

During February Baptist churches are encouraged to participate in Martha Stearns Marshall month by inviting a woman to preach at their worship service.

I have gone back and forth in my mind about Martha Stearns Marshall month of preaching.  It's not that I'm against ladies preaching (heavens no!).  I only wish pastors who happen to be female didn't need a month set aside for special emphasis.   

Maybe you disagree with me but I don't want a special emphasis.  I want to blend in with other pastors and go about the rather large task of leading others to follow Christ.  I am not a pastor because I'm a female or because I think it's my right.  I am not a pastor because I'm trying to get with the times.  I am a pastor because God called me.  (I am also convinced scripture supports the call of men and women to the pastorate.)  

I don't want a special emphasis, but we still need it.  I have the privilege of serving a church as pastor but I have very gifted friends who are still waiting to be called.  I don't want a special emphasis but we're not there yet.  We still need a special emphasis.

There are two reasons we need a special emphasis:  The first is little girls (and little boys) who are called to pastor need to see women preaching.  I speak from experience.  They may hear women can be called, but hearing and seeing are different.  Children model what they see.  The second is women who are eager to try out their calling need a place to preach.  Many churches are not willing to host a young woman in the pulpit. 

When I was in seminary I put my name on a pulpit supply list.  The first and only church who called was a UCC church.  I will always be grateful to St. John's Church.  It was quite and experience for a Baptist raised in the South!  They outfitted me in a robe and gave me a jumbo Bible to carry.  I was to process to the front of the sanctuary and place the world's largest Bible on ONE of the lecterns.  (Wait!  Why are there two pulpits?!)  They were gracious and patient with me. 

Thanks UCC; however I want more Baptist churches to join you in welcoming ladies to try out their calling in the pulpit.  It's no secret ladies who are called to pastor are encouraged to leave our denomination.  Other Baptists encouraged me to be Methodist!  Listen up:  Katie loves Methodists and some of my most dear colleagues are Methodist but as the saying goes: "I'm Baptist born and Baptist bred and when I die I'll be Baptist dead!"  Not only do I like being Baptist (okay...most of the time), I am Baptist in belief and conviction.  All that to say:  I want our churches to host women who are eager to try out their calling.  I want these ladies to remain Baptist!  I want them to be encouraged and know there are churches willing to call them.

Even if I don't want the special emphasis we still need it.  I hope your churches will consider participating.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Part One: The Day We Recorded a Hit Single

When I was a student at Truett we had gatherings called "Brown Bag Lunches" where we discussed practical topics of ministry.  Well done Truett.  We didn't cover everything (how many pizzas to order when you expect 12-25 people) and some things you have to learn on your feet, but here's one thing I never expected to come up in ministry: How to prepare for your first album release.

When I arrived in Scottsville I began attending the Albevanna Clergy Group.  On any given week there are 8-10 of us.  We are Methodist, Baptist, Episcopal and Presbyterian.  We are gentlemen and ladies.  We are (guessing!) in our twenties, thirties, forties, fifties and sixties. Every week we meet for two hours and it's a great time.  We share a potluck breakfast, we sing, we pray and we discuss the lectionary text.

Almost as soon as I joined there was mention of recording a CD and everyone was/is serious about it.  The idea is to produce a compact disc to sell to benefit local charities and perhaps even have a concert.  Also we enjoy singing together.

Well:  The time has come.  The hours are drawing nigh.  On Saturday...we record.  I am really hoping for ginormous ear muffs/headphones to wear.  Come back for part deux.

What about you?  What didn't you expect to come up in ministry?

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Perfect Pastor

Last night was my first Church Council meeting at Scottsville Baptist Church.  I enjoyed hearing reports of the ways God is moving and am looking forward to the future.

As we were concluding the meeting the Deacon Chair indicated he had something to say.  With a serious tone he read the following:

"The Perfect Pastor"

According to the survey, the perfect pastor preaches exactly fifteen minutes.  She condemns sin, but never upsets anybody.  She works from 8:00 a.m. 'til midnight, wears good clothes, reads good books, drives a nice car, earns $60 a week and gives $50 a week to the poor.

She is 28 years old and has been preaching for 30 years.  She is pretty and enjoys working with teenagers, but most of her time is spent with senior citizens.   She smiles all the time with a straight face because she has a sense of humor that keeps her seriously dedicated to her work.  She makes 15 pastoral visits per day and is always in the office when needed...

(From The Newsletter of Second Baptist Church, St. Louis Missouri)

We were in hysterics by the end and I left with a happy smile on my face.  What a great group of folks.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Good Sign

This is not rocket science, but the church has messed up some in the past and will mess up some in the future.  I see that.  And also I'm sorry for that.  I really am; however I tire of what seems (at times) to be a constant poo-pooing of the church.  Again:  The church makes mistakes, but the church (at it's best) is also a loving people who are trying to follow Jesus Christ.  Those stories are not as fun to tell though.  You don't see many "Humble Person Bends over Backwards to Serve" headlines.  Hypocrisy is much sexier.

When leaving our clergy group this morning something caught my eye.  I actually stopped the car.  It was a small sign--perhaps 8.5 x 11 and only had one word:  clergy.  It was a clergy parking sign.

Ordinarily I am not a fan, but this clergy parking sign had one big difference:  location.  It wasn't near the front door or the pastor's office.  It wasn't even in the middle of the lot.  In fact, it wasn't much close to anything.  This clergy parking sign was in the absolute furthest space from the church building.

How refreshing.

What a good sign.  Thank you church for modeling humility with a single sign placement.  This won't headline any religious newspapers or The New York Times, but if I was a lay person visiting this church (and I happened to be Methodist:)) the location of that clergy parking sign would send a meaningful signal to me.  Any leader who holds him/herself with humility is someone I want to get behind and walk alongside.  (I'm not suggesting churches erect clergy parking signs.  I only mean to appreciate this one:))

The church makes mistakes, but it also does a lot of things right.  Grateful for this good sign.