first of all, i was really tempted to simply make another video blog entry since it's so much easier to simply talk than to have to write (that is another post i'll have to come back to sometime), and it doesn't take so long to listen to me say what i want to say when i ramble on and on rather than reading it, and the fact that it's just plain so easy to do so on a mac. (i won't get started)
but i decided to write partly because 1) i realized that not everyone who comes to this blog has a broadband internet connection so trying to watch a video would be painfully slow (how do you survive without dsl/cable connection?) and 2) even those that do have a fast connection, not all of you have speakers with which to listen to the video. (see comments of this post)
anyways . . . on to our regularly scheduled post
yesterday, deb and i went to a 'sectional christmas dinner' for the assemblies of God ministers in our "section". it was a very nice dinner, and we were treated to a nice christmas theater and dessert that was also going on that same evening at the church that hosted all us pastors.
i enjoyed the company on the drive up. we met up with the team from the sunnyside neighborhood church and all piled into their church van. so, all in all, there was 12 of us (rachel came with us, too).
i was deeply moved by the dramatic presentation, reminding us that when we "do unto the least of these" it's as if we're doing it for God himself. and the choir singing was beautiful as well, although the sound system was having some issues.
i also enjoyed the desert aftewards. some delicious carrot cake is what i ordered. but what i want to focus on for this post is the "announcement and updates" time of the get together. our sectional leader, pastor johnson from faith assembly in pasco, shared with us various new pastors either coming into our section, one who is leaving for full time missions work, and another who is on sabbatical leave. he also mentioned two churches in our section that had closed their doors and the progress of the building sale or lease for each property.
one of those churches was the one i grew up in. and i kinda have mixed feelings on the subject. growing up it's the only church i really knew. i knew it was a small church and in the 15 or so years that we went there, i don't think it grew at all that much. it remained at right at about 50 or less the whole time. so i kinda knew that eventually it would close because it wouldn't be able to support a pastor, or all the old people would "die off"! but nonetheless, it was 'my' home church growing up.
the other church is in a small community; and the church has also been small for as long as i can remember. in fact i remember a time growing up, the youth group at our church went to this other church and did some dramas and puppet skits for a vbs or some kind of outreach. so it was also small and had people "doing church" a certain way because "that's how it's always been done".
but there was one major difference between the two churches (coincidently they were within 15 miles or less of each other). the first church described (the one i grew up in) had probably 8-9 pastors from when i was in kindergarten till i graduated from college. the other church has had the same senior pastor for the whole time.
so let me tell you a little about pastor mike. pastor mike is a great guy, loves people, has a heart that follows after God, and he's also fairly young. i don't know for sure but i'd say he was in his late 40's early 50's -ish. (hey i'm turning 30 in a week, so i now realize that early 50s is still fairly young. especially if he's been at the same church for about 20 years or so!)
so pastor mike was at this "minister's dinner" last night and in fact was sitting at our table and was in the group in the van ride up. as they talked about the transition that was happening and that another congregation was looking at leasing the building with the possibility of purchasing after a year, i could tell that pastor mike was still deeply affected. you see pastor mike wasn't told by anyone to close the doors of the church. from what i understood him saying to those at our table, it was in large part his decision to shut down the church. he felt he'd gotten to a point where no matter what he said, or how he said it, or what new method they could try; the people simply did not want to change. they did not want to go beyond their comfort zone and step into what God wanted to do in their community.
so here was pastor mike sitting right next to me hearing his last twenty years summed up into about 5 minutes. in conclusion the sectional leader asking everyone to show their appreciation to pastor mike "for all the work he has done".
did we recieve an offering? did we come around him and pray? did we offer a shoulder to lean/cry on? or some other token of gratitude for 20 years of service?
nope, we gave him "a round of applause". and thus ended a season of pastor mike's life.
// today i'm thankful for:
2. conference calls
3. full night's sleep
5. good books