Church Nerdiness

Next week, for the second but not the last time this summer, I will make my way into humidity of the South. I will only go as far as Baltimore but it’s still south. It’s hard for me to imagine more humidity than we’re currently experiencing in Maine. I’m not complaining. This is the weather that offers me abundant excuses to head directly to the beach — as I did twice yesterday. Whether or not it’s humid, I’m really looking forward to this trip to begin my exploration with the Lewis Fellows

What are the Lewis Fellows? Well, I can only really tell you what I’ve read in the brochure which identifies that this is an opportunity for outstanding young clergy (under the age of 35) to explore character, competence and contribution through four retreats through one year. I can also tell you that it was highly recommended by my Young Clergy Women sister Leah. Through this program, we will be nurtured as leaders so that we can inspire the church and its leaders into the next generation. Admittedly, I need that support. I need the innovation and the encouragement to do that new thing that the prophet Isaiah talks about. Recently, I have found myself talking a lot about generational theory which is both uncomfortable and strange. I don’t want to think that we are divided in the church across generations but I am aware of the resistance that I feel in presenting new possibilities in worship, mission and study. I know that there is something different about the way that I understand church from previous generations even though I have a terrible time trying to name it. I take seriously the call to make disciples including orienting myself toward the ways of God. I’m trying to figure out ways to share my own disciple-making joys and sorrows in ways that are transformative for those that are crazy enough to call ourselves church.

Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive through the Dangers of LeadingIn a nutshell, that’s why I’m really excited about going to Baltimore on Monday night. I want to struggle with other leaders that are trying to answer these same questions. I know that we young clergy don’t all see things the same way. I have found that to be true in both the United Church of Christ 2030 Clergy Network  and The Young Clergy Women Project, but the questions we ask together are somehow different than what I experience in other church leader gatherings. I relish in that conversation. I realize this makes me a dork. I’ve owned that. I’m a church nerd. I’m proud of that fact so it’s with great enthusiasm that I wonder where our conversation will go when discussing Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive through the Dangers of Leading. This was our reading assignment but I’m also told in a recent email that our chosen topic for the gathering is stewardship and finances, so I’m curious how much time we’ll spend on this tome or if we’ll instead launch into other questions about leadership and money.

I’m already eager to begin the dialogue — but I don’t have conversation partners yet. Instead, I have questions that I was asked to offer to steer our conversation. After thinking about it too long, these are my central questions about stewardship and finances:

  • How do we cultivate a community of abundance where giving is part of the culture? And how do we move beyond the stewardship season in the fall?
  • Should the church really being doing fundraising? If so, how?
  • What about the kids? How are they encouraged in their giving? 
What are your questions? And who are your conversation partners?

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