Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Comings and Goings

What is Tay up to? Tay is pushing himself hard to get as much done as humanly possible on many simultaneous fronts. That means I am violating the very important spiritual principle of Sabbath (or, in Benedictine terms, "Holy Leisure"). It's not at all sustainable, but this seems like such a critical time in the life of my parish that I simply can't bear to let the opportunities pass.

On my mind: Natural Church Development. Our church did an NCD survey a few weeks ago to get a snapshot of the congregational dynamic. The parish's NCD leadership team got the first view of the results, and I have been processing that. The congregation will get to see the full results in a few weeks, in the mean time I've been studying and thinking about the profile. The biggest surprise so far, my people don't know how to relate the bible to their 6-day-a-week faith. So that gives me something to work on! Incarnating faith.

This past Saturday I went to the parish work day. Once upon a time, before I came to Messiah, they had a hard time getting volunteers to take care of the grounds around the church. Now we organize half-day work events two or three times a year. The main objective of this last weekend was to get the place ready for winter. I took charge of making sure the burned-out light bulbs were replaced.

A word about light bulbs for all you church nerds out there. You are far better off getting your light bulbs from the sort of place that sells to electricians and contractors than from a place meant for consumers like Rona or Home Depot or Canadian Tire. Electrical supply places have a much better selection and are much more informed about the products. I went ahead and replaced our "Par 38" Incandescents with the same, but I also got a CFL version to experiment with. But what I really have my eye on is an LED bulb. These are expensive, but last a long, long time. And after you've been on top of our mega-tall forty-foot ladder you begin to see the wisdom of LED! LED lighting is definitely the future.

In truth, I find the interior of my church too dark, especially at night, and I look forward to getting better lighting someday. It's right up there with getting the interior repainted.

Anyway, back to the work day. I was pleased by the turnout. We had lots of people and therefore made fast work out of everything we tackled. We were finished on time to have lunch at noon and then I did my usual services.

We did not have high hopes for Sunday. The Toronto Marathon was this Sunday and the route surrounds the church on three sides, making access very, very difficult. So we were pleasantly surprised that our attendance was relatively good. First time visitors made the difference, and I can't wait to see if they come back!

Indeed, the service had a great vibe. People have settled into the square layout nicely and it was used to full advantage. I even did an impromptu dramatized Gospel Reading to start my sermon that worked very, very well. (Yep, I'm already thinking of ways to deal with the scripture-relevance issue). Circumambulating around the altar as I preach feels natural, and I love the way the community sounds me for the Eucharist. Just brilliant.

The next challenge is to adapt this for the upcoming Holocaust Education Week event on November 7th. We won't be celebrating the Eucharist as part of the main service that day in deference to our Jewish guests (last year we had the disconcerting experience of seeing half of them leave at the Peace!). So having the altar in the centre just doesn't make a lot of sense. Instead we are doing Morning Prayer, adapted. Hmm.

I felt that my sermon was strong and all the other pieces, including the music, were just great. Thumbs up all around.

Monday I was running around doing church stuff most of the day, even though it is my day off. For instance, I bought a bunch of stuff at Home Depot to organize the maintenance closet at the church. Peg board, hangers, a tool box, etc. I know this seems like a strange thing for the Rector to be concerned with, but it's precisely this kind of detail that populates the positive edge of the bell curve of ministry excellence. That closet has been a mess for three years--enough with that!

Today (Monday) I got up early to head up to the SSJD Convent for training in Appreciative Inquiry. Appreciative Inquiry is a process for organizational development that fits into parish work and pastoral care quite well. Basically,
it gives practitioners a paradigm to structure dialogue in a way most conducive to the desired outcomes. Perhaps after I'm finished with the training (Thursday afternoon) I'll have time to write more about it.

So another day-and-a-half of training to go. Then back-to-back meetings on Friday. At least I was smart enough not to schedule myself to preach this Sunday!


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