For the past several months, I've been on an interesting professional journey. Like many of my colleagues, we are having to be creative about funding our vocation. I've been saying for most of the last decade that the traditional way of funding a local church is changing. Along with the funding, the traditional way of being a community of faithful people is changing. Just as every other industry in our culture is having to adapt, those of us who lead groups of people who are attempting to follow the ways of Jesus in our world, are having to reinvent, reimagine and after death, resurrect ourselves to the new life that God intends.
We've been looking and dreaming and planning and planting the new for years it seems. And despite all of our hard work, it is still clear that my congregation, a vibrant, missional community of faith with far reaching outreach in our community will soon not be able to fund a full time pastorate. This is not an indictment on us. This is a reality of our cultural changes. And it is also important to note that every single volunteer in my church is bivcocational. We would do ourselves a great service it we would all remember the importance of us giving of ourselves in many ways, using the gifts that God has given us for many purposes.
Now none of can tell the future but I wanted to be faithful to what I was seeing so I've been listening for the still, small voice of the Spirit of God guiding me and directing me about how I might become a bivocational pastor. I had to let go of the idea, the picture of what I thought it meant to be a pastor.
To help me do that, I've resurrected something important to me that I had let die... music.
I studied vocal performance long, long ago and then went into youth ministry where I picked up a guitar and sang mostly youth group songs. Now I play my guitar in preschool chapel... sure at least I'm playing it, right? I've long said that if there is a conversation we have to have with God at the end of our lives about how we used the gifts we were given, talking about my voice would not go well. I was given a tremendous gift, one I rarely use and have hardly cultivated. Until now.
A couple friends and I recorded an EP this week with four hymns that are on the public domain. Generally speaking, the songs I picked go really well with the subject matter of the memoir and I hope that somehow they could be marketed together. At the very least, it proved to me that I could not only speak on broader themes but that I could offer music as part of my ministry to a larger audience. I'll keep you posted about its release and what I plan to do with it.
I still feel incredibly called to the local church. Being a pastor keeps me grounded, aware of what real people are thinking about and struggling with. I think my greatest gifts still remain in being a pastor. In fact, resurrecting music has reminded me of God's promise to continue to do new things.
Here's a sample - not from the mixed recording but from my phone resting on a table nearby... enjoy!