Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Plug In Sister

What is it about ministry that just makes me want to run the other way? I want to pack it in. Pack it up. Turn tail and bolt in the opposite direction at FULL SPEED!! I am serving in ministry now. Can you tell?
I gotta say here that all of my past experiences in ministry haven’t been all good or all bad. There are definitely highlights and moments that define my walk down the paths of serving. However, there was a time for about 10 yrs that I didn’t serve anywhere. I didn’t want to serve. I was depleted of all desire no matter what that involved stuffing or stifling. I didn’t want to. Most of this absence of serving has to do with me going from the “mainstream” church to the “underground, alternative” church and then trying to fit back into the realm of “mainstream” church again. It is very troubling and difficult to do.
I served as a children’s Sunday school teacher for about 3 years at a very small Penticostal Church. I had on any given Sunday just as many children in my class as we had adults in service. This was where I stepped into my giftings as a teacher. I had kids from 3 yrs old to 12 yrs old in my class. I loved this. I still think about my favorite little girl…”Anna”. I wonder if she still loves Jesus. That was about….19 yrs ago. She would be about 25 yrs old today. Who do you think made the greatest impact..…me or her?? This was by far one of the most awesome experiences in my walk with Christ. Teaching. I still love it. This is where I grew the most…at the hands of teaching my kids.
Then I went from my tiny little safe church to a mega church. I was a nursery director and was in charge of scheduling moms to serve one Sunday a month for the nursery. As it turned out, I was in the nursery EVERY Sunday morning because mom’s with kids don’t want to serve in the nursery watching other women’s kids!! They wanted to drop the kids off and sit in the church to be fed. So week after week I sacrificed my time in the sanctuary, “laying down my life”, so that the other mom’s were taken care of. I really learned to hate this area of service.
I served on a Spiritual Warfare team. Yes, it is exactly what it sounds like. Chasing demons and praying over people. Un-balanced stuff. Especially when the people that we dealt with had REAL problems like Bi-Polar disease, schizophrenia, and abusive situations at home. As I grew in my walk with Christ, I realized that there was not a demon behind every door way. Believers cannot be demon possessed. Sometimes, it is just life and the consequences of our actions or someone else’s that is causing the problem. I saw many innocent people come thru the doors of that ministry looking for a quick fix. They didn’t get it. What they got was a pipe dream and broken hope. That ministry was not good for me either.
Then there was LIFE ministries. http://www.loveisforeternity.org/ This is the place that God used to restore me. Closed, compressed, process group therapy. Gifted counselor and pastor. Women holding each others heads up and healing broken hearts. This was also the ministry that God used to completely break what was left of my heart so that I could be totally reliant on Him. I severed in the ministry for about 5 yrs as the Lead Facilitator. I trained, taught, and supported my staff of leaders. I also walked beside that gifted counselor and pastor and gleaned so much wisdom from her. I still grieve the loss of involvement at this ultra safe place. I stopped working in this ministry around 1996. I still call Ms. Gayle at least 3 X’s a year. She is still the closest thing to Jesus that I have to reach out to. And she never disappoints me.
There was the underground church, “The Refuge”. http://www.skaught.com/refuge/gallery.html Inner city street kids. The undesirables of society. The punks. Skinheads. Alternatives. Gay men and women. Prostitutes. Drug users. Throw away kids that no one else wanted or cared about. This is where I met Adam Stillman. Adam had a bright blue mohalk and the biggest love for Jesus that I had ever seen. At first glance, he scared the hell out of me! But once I got past his looks….Stillman challenged me more than any other kid I met. He pushed me to challenge the belief system I was discipled in. He challenged my mind and all the ways that were taught to me about the church. All the pastors at this place called “The Refuge” challenged me. My boyfriend Marcus was my Associate Pastor there….he caused me to really look at religion as a whole. He pushed me to think for myself. He showed me that there was always a different perspective than the one that I was seeing. He also modeled what it meant to be a follower of Christ. That perfection wasn’t his job….it was HIS job! This remains one of the greatest experiences of my life. I still keep in touch with some of the “Fuge Kids” who are actually now “adults” with their own kids….many of them still walk the path of Christ and try to follow Him.
I took several years off of serving in ministry. I went thru my divorce. I relocated. I went back to my sinful ways for a time. I established my family. I practiced at getting them stable for years. Still am. I went back into the church after running from it and have discovered that I am called to serve. There are times like NOW that I don’t want to. I don’t want to expose myself to the “mainstream” religiosity that is so prevalent. I find myself emotionally running the other way and all the while my feet are still there…trying the best that I can to serve in the capacity that Christ has called me to….and yet cling to my individuality and personhood that took me years and years of therapy and life to uncover.
There are those in the church that cannot tolerate those of us Believers that think for ourselves. And they especially don’t like it when we speak our mind. I think that this is because it challenges the Church Leaders and the Pastors to think and re-think to support their “cause”. I don’t walk on eggshells in ministry anymore. It is self defeating and dangerous. There are some Believers out there that will follow the sheep in front of them to the point of going over a cliff!! They follow the leader and seek approval so desperately that they lose who they were “created to be”. This grieves the heart of God. I will risk being called “rebellious” and “un-teachable”. I will ruffle feathers. I hope that I too cause others to “think outside the box” of what it means to be a follower of Christ. I hope that the example that I give challenges others….especially my children….to think for themselves.

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