In the United Church of Christ, when a church embarks upon the possibility of searching for their next settled pastor, the congregation must craft some statement of their ministry. Likewise, when the minister that seeks to search for her next call, she must start by completing the paperwork that concludes with a statement of ministry.
I like these statements. I like words. I like how individuals and groups of people try to articulate who they are. I am excited about who the congregation seeks to be — and whether or not they are actually able to offer any words about who they want to be. (It’s easier for the minister. She is not writing as a committee with many voices. She only has her own voice to contend with. It’s enough, but it’s much easier than the task of the church.)
More than four years ago, I read the statement of ministry for the church I currently serve. I admit. I wasn’t sure about them. The words didn’t leap off the page. Not at first. It wasn’t until I met them in person that I understood the value of those words. It wasn’t until I saw the church that they called home and heard their earnest questions that I grasped what it was that these words said about them. Now, I read those words in that statement of ministry on those days when I’m not sure what in the world I’m doing in this church.
That’s not today. As the snow gathers on my windowsill and I wonder what to cook for dinner, I’m re-reading those words in our congregation’s statement on ministry because I will meet with the Pastor Parish Relations Committee. At this meeting, I get to check in on the what-some-might-call goals that I set back in 2008. I don’t like goals. They know this. I think they find it amusing, but I really don’t like goals. I prefer to live into a question and see if any answers emerge. And, of course, the best questions are those without answers. Those are the things that get me really excited. Those are the things that call me into this wild task of being the church. I know that’s not true for others. I’m familiar with the world of measurable results. I just choose to rebel. Luckily, the Pastor Parish Relations Committee is as patient as they are bemused. Tomorrow, I will reflect on those would-be goals about our children’s ministry and equipping the saints. In doing so, I’ll share with them the statement of ministry that was written before I arrived as their Associate Pastor. I’ll point to those words that articulate the work that I seek to do among them and wonder with them about what might be next. Who knows. Maybe we’ll even set a goal. Or two.