Thursday, April 06, 2006

And the fun just keeps on coming

Well, am getting through the slog of Easter, having gotten some more information and proposed some solutions and etc. Shoving uphill all the way. But will get through this, and have communicated that my desire is that the volunteers have the opportunity to feel successful as opposed to feeling "shoved in as an afterthought."

Got some honest feedback from supervising pastor about the liturgist situation. Pastor wants us to increase by 20 liturgists, have a diverse population at every service, etc. Feels that when confronted with folks who "want to serve" but "can't make the training" (the example being, a young man who was committed to attend the training until the moment before it started, when someone popular invited him to brunch) *I* should "bend over backward" to find ways to include them. Implication being, that I have been rigid and inflexible. I owned to not being active in recruiting, largely because of having totally lost my passion for the liturgy ministry due to non-support (the Easter planning thing, just saying) but am realizing that pastor and I have a fundamentally different viewpoint. I say, young man who picked brunch at last minute over training has made a very clear statement that at present his needs are for social, not volunteer, contacts, and that the expectation that I "accommodate" him by scheduling a special training is inappropriate. If he is really serious about wanting to do liturgy, he'll keep his eyes open for next training. (That would have been the one that was mis-announced from the pulpit and for which my notice for the bulletin, sent in on time, was never printed. That one. Oh--by the way--the "right" response to that was: I should have scheduled another training two weeks later and "been persistent," never mind that this pushes back the ability to provide the printed quarterly schedule. You know, the one the liturgy volunteers use TO PLAN THEIR TIME. The one they ask for the minute it is more than a second overdue. That one.)

Here is what I am going to propose: At each service, list some responsibilities as "open." Bag the training class requirement, since it is perceived as burdensome. Leave a sign-up list and copies of the training handout on the visitor's table. Anyone who wants can sign up and pick up the handout. In response I will schedule them for one service, for an "open" responsibility. They *will* need to appear 30 minutes before the service and get told exactly what to do, and when. They can try it and see if they like. If they like, I'll fill them in for an appropriate number of services in the remainder of the quarter (once per month) and then they can re-up, same like everyone else, at the next quarter. I will take any and all comers, and I do mean any and all.

Meanwhile, I will contact anyone pastor suggests and do the same. I will not make any exclusions at all. If the pastor finds some unsuitable, I will ask that the pastor communicate this to them, with either a correction plan or a suggestion for another ministry.

We need numbers and inclusivity, damn, we'll get numbers and inclusivity. I am not happy that achieving the "vision" or progressing toward same is going to be one of my evaluation criteria for internship, because it is utterly clear to me that my expectations of volunteers are perceived as unacceptable; that I experience the pastor's expectations for my behavior as co-dependency rather than appropriate leadership; and that accommodating the pastor's desire is going to lead to a level of drama that is not going to be fun at all for me to deal with.

It is also utterly clear to me that the task of being sent off to implement a vision with which I fundamentally disagree, which is apparently one of the key tasks of pastorship, is not a task I have any heart for at all.

I am facing now the spiritual crisis of being in extremely serious doubt that I really want to be ordained in this denomination.


Blogger Rev. Sean said...

Here's the thing, Terri. Don't jump to questioning your call just because you are dealing with a pastor who is both misusing his authority as your supervisor AND codependent and anxious regarding volunteers.

Your call is between you and God. God does not demand evaluations based on any one "success" or "failure." God looks at you and sees the pastor in you. He invites you to do the same.

Right now, you are learning some of the ways you will *not* pastor. That's okay. In fact, it can be one of the most important parts of an internship. (I am sure the intern I am supervising is learning plenty!)

The hard part is separating your disappointment with your very human supervisor from the relationship you are called to have with a congregation and with God. Remember that your supervisor feels the pressures of the congregation's judgment of everything s/he does and will do for the long term. That's a lot of pressure and it makes him/her want to cater to their every whim.

Compassion, patience, perseverance, and spiritual practice are what you need to get through this frustrating situation.

I will send blessings your way.

7:53 AM  

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