On monday night Robin & I went & had dinner with a couple for whom the wife will serve as a 3rd Party Independent/or Supervisor for her in ministry. This is something that is set up by the Presbyterian Church Aotearoa/New Zealand.
Anyway the back story is this… this woman’s husband is the pastor at a local church. To be honest was not feeling too keen about going over there for dinner. You know the usual story… to tired, don’t feel like making conversation this evening, my ribs still hurt, i don’t know this church well, but can imagine what its like- do not feel like getting into a BIG theological discussion this evening whereby i sense that i have to defend the reformed tradition/faith. And ultimately… really do not want to sit around and play nice.
If you are expecting me now to say “Wow, was i wrong” you would not be entirely correct. Our time there did go reasonably well. I would not say it was a mountain top experience but i did leave with some insight and reflections.
As we drove home there was almost a race between robin and i to say “ok, you first.” We laughed and then lobbied the other to speak first, intent on hearing what the other thought. Mostly based on our perception as outlined above NOT being the reality of what happened on this evening in question.
Initially let me say i’m not sure how this guy and i haven’t met or worked together or rubbed shoulders in the 10 years pre 2001. As we talked about our backgrounds and work with youth etc there was an obvious pattern of parallel lines but those lines never quite crossing. We even knew the same people from our days in Christchurch. This is not unfamiliar in NZ as once recently described to me as NZ being one large small town.
As we continued to talk there was common ground in our desire and expression on ministry & what that could look like. We reflected on experiences, though not as it was turing into a pissing contest. I can usually spot those and back off right away & have no trouble doing so either. But between hearing about programs he is doing now, has done, or is desiring to do basically covered (w/ another name of course our experiences in)… Mission Work Camp, Global Village, Young Adult Ministry, challenge course and all under the hat of experiential learning, faith based metaphors. The conversation was refreshing it was empowering, it wasn’t framed around boasting. But around, lots of questions that i asked that i hope pushed both of us… of course why questions.
When talking about one’s passion (BTW…don’t like that word) then the conversation is easy. Its almost like you find a kindred spirit that recognizes what you are about and if you wanted to make an expression out of it, could finish your sentence for you.
While this is all nice etc, it can get old and as mentioned could slip into a pissing contest. Which I WAS very sensitive to and tried to avoid. I did however enjoy interacting with someone whom for the most part had a majority understanding of what ministry has looked like for us for the past 11 years and how much satisfaction was gained from it. From the perspective of reach, impact and effectiveness. Of course it never being about us but the people and the goal of ministry.
We threw around some ideas lots of ideas ad dreams and we shall see where it all goes