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Author Topic: Making Changes in the New Year?  (Read 705 times)
Preacherman0
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« on: Dec 28, 2010 at 12:31 »

Yo kids,
Been a while since I posted something on here about my ongoing existential crisis with being a 39-year old who has to babysit a bunch of teenagers, in the hopes that something I say/do will in some way help their personal spiritual development.  But it's really hitting the fan here at church, leaving lingering little steaming mounds all over the place that I keep stepping in.  I'm really thinking of making some major changes and could use the advice of some in the "secular" world.  Some background:

For several years, we've run our church buses to pick up students in local neighborhoods for youth and childrens' activities.  Most of them are African-American, from rough neighborhoods/homes, etc.  A group of vocal parents decided they wanted to put a stop to this because “those kids” were ruining things for “our kids” at the church.  Basically, Tracy and I prepared to leave, even talked to our parents about moving in with them.

We averted the crisis after hours of meetings and finally talking some sense into these people.  But it left me pretty bitter and angry, moreso than I even realized.

After working with a ministry coach, we concluded that I should take two approaches.  One was to keep pushing for the changes that are necessary in the life of our current church; the other was to start pushing to find out what positions are available. 

After two months of this, I have only had two job offers.  Both involve sales for ESPN radio, one in the Spartanburg SC market, the other in the Greenville SC market.  These are straight commission.  They both have good earning potential but I am terrified about changing career fields to work on commission with something I have never done in my life.

I have a good grip on all the financial variables and understand the risks.  But are there any suggestions from anyone on making a move like this?  Does this just reek of insanity?  I am really thinking that it’s time to move away from the institutional church, make a living doing something else, and making time to do “real” ministry on my own.

Sorry to bring such a weighty topic when we’re barely over our Christmas hangovers!
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otismalibu
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« Reply #1 on: Dec 28, 2010 at 12:46 »

Option #1 - Find shabby looking dude on smoke break and roll him. Use all his money on lottery tix.

Option #2 - Reality series with drunk ass brother-in-law.

Option #3 - Move to South America and start your own church.
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VaBchSteelersfan
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« Reply #2 on: Dec 28, 2010 at 13:02 »

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Does this just reek of insanity?  I am really thinking that it’s time to move away from the institutional church.

Nothing insane about it, you have to do what's best for you and the family, including keeping mentally stable!
Institutional churches are just that, institutions with no personality and little pathos, in my findings. I say take the leap to ESPN and open up new possibilities.
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Preacherman0
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« Reply #3 on: Dec 28, 2010 at 13:40 »

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Option #2 - Reality series with drunk ass brother-in-law.

NYT Headline:  "Reality Show Minister Arrested for On-Air Murder"

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I say take the leap to ESPN and open up new possibilities.

Still working and praying through this, but I'm starting to lean that direction.  My hope is that I can find time to help my dad with his food pantry ministry and get it established to continue long after dad is not around to run it.  He's the youngest 76-year old man I've ever known, but even he can't do this forever!
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Finnegans Wake
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« Reply #4 on: Dec 28, 2010 at 15:27 »

Tom, I am left asking What is it you want to do?  What is your passion?  And the answer I am reading here is making time to do “real” ministry on my own.  It does not sound to me as though going into sales is where your heart is, but rather that that is a a way to escape the frustrations of your church in particular, and the issues of institutionalized religion in general.

The question I would put to you is whether both of these relationships are irreconcilably broken.  Have you reached the point of no return with your congregation?  Sometimes we reach a point of frustration and resentment that cannot be worked through.  Are you sure that is the case here, or is there a chance that you could step back, take a deep breath, and find an "out of the box" solution?  If the problem is primarily one of misperceptions on the part of the adults, what could be done to resolve that beyond merely talking about the issue? 

Our church is a racially diverse one, as well as economically diverse.  We have a large Vietnamese congregation, and they have put in a lot of time and effort to help renovate the basement and kitchen areas.  They also hold regular Vietnamese food sales, which is also a good way for the two "halves" of the church to meet and find common ground.  It's a slow process, because many of the older Vietnamese parisioners don't speak English, but any chance for people to socialize and familiarize themselves is preferable to simply passing by on the way to different language masses.

Is there some way to get the parents involved and interacting that might resolve the issue at your church?  Food is always a good starting point, as mentioned.  You can't take each person by the hand and lead them, but you can set things in motion. 

Or have you to a point where working within the church institution is untenable?  What exactly is the point of contention?  Is it something that could be resolved by moving to a different geographical location?  A friend of mine got her degree in elementary education and moved to the heart of Baptist country, and while she loves teaching the kids, she finds the social aspect, the attitudes and values of the people she lives among, to be smothering.  She wants to move back to this area and find a teaching job.  I'm not sure how it works for preachers, if you can just up and leave to see if you can find a better connection elsewhere.

It's obvious to me that you enjoy your field of expertise, even as it frustrates you.  You cherish the Word, you like helping people, you care deeply about issues facing your congregation and in the world at large.  If you take a job as a salesman, and to find an expression of the ministry "on the side," some day you'll wake up a salesman and remember when you were a minister.  If you have a passion for the ministry, then my advice to you is not to abandon that, but find the perfect expression of it now, not later. 

How exactly were you thinking of doing your "real" ministry on the side?  Why couldn't you make that the focus of a career change?  Put your energy into the dream, not the diversion.  It seems to me that your talent for bringing the message of the Gospels to people in ways that relate to real life issues, which you've shared here at MGS, would be screamingly wasted selling ad time for radio.  Normally, I would not want to tell someone what they should do at a crossroads such as this, but if you have the opportunity to follow something with passionate conviction, then that is far superior to pursuing something with no passion for it.

Sometimes new doors open in unexpected places. 
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Preacherman0
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« Reply #5 on: Dec 28, 2010 at 23:03 »

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The question I would put to you is whether both of these relationships are irreconcilably broken.  Have you reached the point of no return with your congregation?  Sometimes we reach a point of frustration and resentment that cannot be worked through.  Are you sure that is the case here, or is there a chance that you could step back, take a deep breath, and find an "out of the box" solution?  If the problem is primarily one of misperceptions on the part of the adults, what could be done to resolve that beyond merely talking about the issue? 

Let's add a few more layers to the story!

I will never leave ministry, in any kind of total sense of things.  Even if I decide to do something else, I will seek opportunities to preach, volunteer, serve, etc. in some capacity.  I have really begun to question the wisdom of ministers having their family well-being and livelihood tied to the church.  It's not like I have a better idea, but it makes members of the clergy much less likely to speak out or challenge the status quo when they know that their family depends on keeping the peace.

As far as sales, I'm not all that excited about being a sales guy; but, I love doing sports and I love doing broadcasting.  The angle into that industry is through the sales dept.  In other words, you have to prove your value as an "earner" in order to open the door to broadcast opportunities.  I know the guys at the station in Spartanburg very well, and I really enjoy working with them.  We've worked together on a couple of projects over the last two years.  I see this as an opportunity to work with some people that I really like and who seem interested in helping me to learn how to succeed in the industry.

As for our church, I have to admit that I've struggled to be motivated since the incidents this past summer.  We actually were able to make some improvements to the ministry, although only a few of the parents really stepped up to help.  But overall, the church is not headed in a direction that I feel led to help it go.  It's still a good place with good people, but it has a country church mentality and that's all it seems interested in having.  The pastor and min of education are not interested in being innovative so much as they are interested in shoring up the current organization.  In other words, they want the church to do well at the things it already does rather than looking for dynamic approaches.

They may well be right.  It may be the calling of the church to be the best "country church" that it can be.  But that is not what I feel called to do.  So there is an overall sense that what the church, pastor and key leaders see as the purpose of the church does not match up with what I feel led to do.

Also, there is the issue of my specific ministry (youth).  It's been a while since I felt motivated/called/inspired in this particular area of ministry.  I do an adequate job, but it's not what I feel led to do.

All in all, one could say that my current church is just not a good "fit."

I'm still sending out resumes, looking around, trying to break into the academic realm (no small task these days).  I have not shut off the church as a whole, but I really do not feel that my current location is where I am called to be.

The question is:  What is the alternative? 

And it may be that I need to stay the course until something else breaks, but the ESPN deal very much intrigues me.  And I do feel extremely called to help out my dad's ministry.
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msdmnr2002
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« Reply #6 on: Dec 29, 2010 at 09:03 »

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As far as sales, I'm not all that excited about being a sales guy; but, I love doing sports and I love doing broadcasting.  The angle into that industry is through the sales dept.  In other words, you have to prove your value as an "earner" in order to open the door to broadcast opportunities.

Is that really the way it is?  Seems completely illogical.  Being a successful broadcaster and successful in sales require very different skill sets.  Don't see how one relates to the other. 

It concerns me when you start with "I'm not all that excited about being a sales guy."  How long would you be willing to do a job you're not excited about to get to the level you want?  What is the likelihood you would get there?  Would you be  able to do it well enough to succeed if you aren't passionate about it?  I don't know your friends in the industry, but in general "I'll help you get where you want" changes meaning once you've made the committment.

If you're splitting time between a job you're not excited about, and a sideline you are dedicated to, it will be extremely difficult to reach the right balance and be happy with yourself, and have your employers be happy with you.

And if you ultimately to get to a successful point in broadcasting, you have to consider if even THAT is what you want.  We all love sports, but at the end of the day it's really just for fun.  Will you feel fulfilled with being basically an entertainer?
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Preacherman0
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« Reply #7 on: Dec 29, 2010 at 10:04 »

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And if you ultimately to get to a successful point in broadcasting, you have to consider if even THAT is what you want.  We all love sports, but at the end of the day it's really just for fun.  Will you feel fulfilled with being basically an entertainer?

Hmmmmm...that's why I love this board.  Always good feedback when it's time to get serious.

I thought the same thing about the sales deal, but discovered that it kind of works that way, especially at the local level.  Guy says, "Hey we heard your show and we'd love for you to do a post-game show for __________.  By the way, we need you to help sell ads to get the program off the ground."  I had no clue it worked that way, but it's quite often the case.  You learn something new every day.

The other side to that is the fact that I'm fairly new to the biz.  I do an okay job but have a lot to learn, so it takes a little extra work to get someone's attention.
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Preacherman0
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« Reply #8 on: Dec 29, 2010 at 10:13 »

In light of our existential discussion, thought I'd post this link:

http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2009-01-01-jesus-year_N.htm

I had heard about this but never read up on it.  Fascinating stuff--now the question is, how do we live like Jesus in the real world?  Few of us have a year to take off to do it.
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otismalibu
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« Reply #9 on: Dec 29, 2010 at 10:35 »

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Fascinating stuff--now the question is, how do we live like Jesus in the real world?

If you want followers these days, you need to be on Twitter. I think Jesus already has an account on there. Then a Facebook page and a blog and you're golden. Maybe a shoe deal.
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