Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Journey {part 5}

The Journey {part 1}
The Journey {part 2}
The Journey {part 3}
The Journey {part 4}

We met on the Tuesday following a week of five interviews and hoped to walk away from that meeting with a single finalist to put before our church as the new Children’s Pastor.  The reality was that we walked away from that SEVERAL HOUR meeting split evenly between two candidates. 

The decision was made to ask them both to come back and have them each spend a weekend.  I immediately began praying for God to work and change hearts where they needed to change one way or the other.

The week before the first candidate was to come into town, the other withdrew their name from consideration.  There were half of us who were more than a little disappointed.  I remember talking to one other committee member and saying, “Did I hear wrong after all of that?”  It was, to be honest, a time of confusion and yet dependence on God’s faithfulness and His providential plan.

Still, the first candidate came and spent a very full weekend of dinners, meetings, lunches, more meetings and even did a kind of Bible lesson/devotional presentation to the children during Sunday school. 

That next day, it was a Monday, my family and I were sitting down to dinner.  As we had our normal dinner time chatting with each other, I said to the kids, “Something very exciting happened today.”

Sarah popped up with excitement in her voice, “Did you pick a new Children’s Pastor?!?!  Because THAT would be exciting?”

“No,” I said, a little surprised at her response since I didn’t feel at liberty to discuss where we really were in the process with her.  “I was just going to tell y’all that Daddy brought me flowers while I was at work today.”

“Oh.” 

(I love how he can still surprise me.  Even after fourteen years. )

I went to our committee meeting on Tuesday night with mixed feelings.  I knew that this was going to be the person God had for us, but I still, for some reason, had reservations.  I didn’t feel like I had my answer. 

Everything I had seen the previous weekend from this person was good.  Impressive, even.  But safe.  It didn’t feel like we would be taking the step (and possibly risks) it would take to go to the next level in our Children’s Ministry like we all said wanted to do.  But I kept an open mind and an open heart, asking God to give me confirmation.

I am so thankful for God and His faithfulness to show us exactly what we need.  We all talked about our interactions with the candidate and what our impressions were.   This is why we have more than one person because other people did see those things in the candidate that I did not.  After all the other opinions I heard during that meeting, I felt a greater sense of peace about the decision that was going to be made.

But one thing still bothered me a little.  And it wasn’t about the candidate.  It was about us as a church and in children’s leadership.  And I just had to say it. 

You see, several of us when with the candidate and her spouse to lunch on that Sunday previous when they were in town.  Here we were, a group of about eight committee members gathered around a table and it was a little like an interview all over again.  But what I kept hearing was people, including myself, talking about the specific programs we were involved in and framing questions or statements around those programs. 

My concern was (and kind of still is)  and what I said to the committee that night at the meeting was basically this:  “If this person comes and is as creative and progressive in programming as everyone has the impression that she is, but we are not willing to give up how we have always done children’s ministry (which may mean giving up our own programs that we dearly love and are passionate about) and let God do something new through her, it frankly doesn’t matter who we bring to fill the position and this whole exercise we have been through the last seven months has been purely academic.”  I couldn’t tell how my statement was initially received, but there were a couple of people I talked to afterward that agreed and did thank me for saying it out loud.

I’m usually good for that, you know.  I say out loud what everyone else is thinking.

We voted unanimously during that meeting to submit this person to the church for a vote and we left that room united in our decision.  And I might say, hopefully in our resolve to allow God to do a new thing.

I can’t tell you how excited I was a day or two later to be able to report back to Sarah that, yes, we had in fact picked a new Children’s Pastor.  And she was pretty excited as well.

It was a couple of short weeks later that we brought this person before our church and we voted.

The answer was YES. 

I pray it is a YES to God.  A YES to go and do in Children’s Ministry whatever He tells us to do.  A YES to work alongside this new leader in our Children’s Ministry and support them as they make any and all changes that are needed.

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Our last installment and hopefully a good conclusion to this story will come tomorrow in part 6.

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