Ready for a Change…

I’ve been spending most of the summer doing pulpit supply preaching in various churches. At the beginning of the summer, I was really excited about the opportunity to spend a good chunk of time writing sermons and preaching, but I’m beginning to realize that I may have had too much of a good thing.

If you’re not familiar with the term “pulpit supply,” it’s pretty much the pastor’s equivolent to substitute teaching. Just about every Sunday, I’ve gone to a different church that either doesn’t have a pastor, or where the regular pastor is on vacation. Most of these churches are in relatively remote parts of Pennsylvania where I’ve never been before. At the start of the summer, I really enjoyed this work. I loved spending the time studying Scripture and writing sermons, and I really enjoyed traveling around and seeing parts of Pennsylvania that I’ve never seen before. The experience has also been pretty affirming of my call to ministry. After any sermon, you almost always get the typical comments (i.e. “I enjoyed your message” or “Nice sermon”), but I also received some feedback from people that I will cherish for a long time. (My favorite: “When you preached, I heard Jesus speaking.”)

Despite these good things… the gig is getting old. I never realized how difficult and draining it is to write sermons for congregations you barely know. Part of sermon preparation is a process of discerning what God wants to say to your particular congregation, and it’s really hard to discern that when you know nothing about that congregation. It’s also draining worshipping with strangers on a weekly basis. Usually, I enjoy meeting new people in new churches, and seeing new parts of the body of Christ, but lately I’ve been finding myself longing to be a part of a community and not just the guest of a different community each week.

That’s why I’m REALLY excited for what’s coming this week. This Thursday, the seed group for the New Church Development in Squirrel Hill will meet for the first time. It’s just going to be an evening of fellowship where we can all get to know one another before we all dive into Bible Study, worship and life-in-Christ together, but it’s also the beginning of this new chapter in my life and the lives of several others.

I’m ready for this change. The pseudo-itinerant ministry of pulpit supply preaching was fun for a season, but I fear that season may have ended a week or two before I intended it to. It’s time to devote energy to one community and see how the Holy Spirit forms and shapes it into a temple for the living Christ.

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4 thoughts on “Ready for a Change…

  1. Hey there! I’m so excited to hear about what you’ve been up to lately. Even though you are tired of it, it’s great to hear that you’ve been busy. Good luck with your first meeting of your new church! Do you have the date for your ordination yet?

  2. This has nothing to do with your current post, but I read your piece on the homosexuality debate, and I think you are absolutely spot on.

    I’ve never been able to handle the mental and logical manipulations of Christians who try to argue that the Bible doesn’t really condemn homosexuality. To me, these arguments are tenuous at best, right up there with the arguments of hardline, five point Calvinists (but that’s a discussion for another day).

    I appreciate your pointing out that the debate is really much more fundamental than simply, “Does the Bible condemn or condone homosexuality” – I think it would behoove more people to look at the issue from that perspective, and it might incite some much needed discussion.

  3. Rainy and Lindsay,

    Thanks for the comments.

    Rainey, the ordination date is up in the air, but I very well could know by the end of this week. I’ll be sure to announce it once I know.

    Lindsay, let’s have the Calvinism discussion some time. Having gone through seminary, I’m now convinced that five point Calvinism and the theology of John Calvin are two very different things. (It’s doubtful that Calvin would affirm “limited atonement.”)

  4. Mike,

    I just read your post on pulpit supply. I remember when I was doing pulpit supply for several months towards the end of last year and I remember everything that you talked about. I am SO glad that I am with a congregation each week that I am getting to know and can preach to regularly. Hallelujah!

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