My last post showed some of the roughness of this passed week. My pastor resigned, even though he hadn’t been found to be disqualified and the elder board had put together a plan of restoration for the non-disqualifying sins they found him guilty of. My husband is facing something potentially problematic with work, although we thankfully have had some reassurance on that one, so it should be alright. I learned that it is pregnancy loss awareness month, and though I haven’t shared it publicly before, I am one of many women who have had an early miscarriage which I mourned. An LDS friend of mine, unwilling to see my heart of love and worry for those who follow false teachings, decided to unnecessarily inform me that she wasn’t going to allow my posts to show up on her Facebook newsfeed anymore because she felt that the ones directed at Mormon beliefs were “immature” and “negative.”
The week wasn’t all bad. I’d say there was really only one truly rough day, when three out of the fourth things happened.
There were good things too. My son brings me joy daily, and is sleeping better at night plus starting to go down on his so own for naps more often. My husband works hard at his job and has been hitting the gym lately, and his upper body is starting to look really strong. I got to spend a morning with my awesome midwife, who became a friend, and that same evening was spent with my sister-in-law and at Mom’s Night Out. Life isn’t bad. It just has its hard moments.
One of the best things about this week, though, was getting to interview for a leadership position in student ministry with my campus pastor, Pastor Ryan, and his intern. I hadn’t quite realized when the intern emailed me that “meet with Pastor Ryan on Sunday” meant “interview,” but I actually had a good time with it.
The purpose of the interview was largely to establish that I’m not a heretic and that I know what I’m getting into with this position.
The theological part left me feeling really positive. Pastor Ryan asked me if He could just kinda hit me rapid-fire with theological questions. I said sure. The questions weren’t too surprising or deep, but the were important. “What is the gospel?” “Who is Jesus?” “What is the role of the Holy Spirit?” “How are people saved?” “What is complimentarianism?”
Some of them, I pretty much had to get right to be able to do ministry. Like the gospel one. Others, like complementarianism, if I’d disagreed with the church but didn’t hold a heretical position, I would have simply had to agree not to cause discord about. Thankfully, I attend Mars Hill because my theology generally lines up with theirs, even on most secondary issues.
What made me feel really good was that they said a few times that if I had been sitting in reach, there would have been high fives for my answers. I was told that I’m very good at giving concise answers to these important questions, but in a way which makes it clear that I could go much more in depth if necessary. Pastor Ryan told me that that is extremely important in teaching, especially if I need to give a quick and simple answer to something that one of these teenagers asks.
More exciting, feel-good things came from that interview too.
One was finding out that, once a month, the leaders will be answering one or two questions these teenagers have, which can (and often will) be questions that require apologetics to answer. He told me that in a few months I could start teaching on these sometimes. That was exciting, and gave me an opening to share that I love apologetics and am considering getting a degree in them in the future, and that part of my heart for doing student ministry was to help keep these kids from being part of the statistic of about 50% of kids raised Christian leaving the church for at least a time after graduating high school and moving away from home. I shared that I want to help them with their theology and their questions so their foundation is firmer and they know they have places to turn when skeptics ask hard questions. Pastor Ryan thought that was great, and shared that he was able to do the same when he was in youth ministry.
The second thing was him asking if I’d be willing to share my testimony–my conversion from Mormonism–with the church on a Sunday sometime, if eh gave me a few weeks warning. I was very surprised, but agreed. It’s one of those things that I’d thought of doing before, but had never been asked to, and I wasn’t about to be so presumptuous as to ask if I could unless there was an invitation for people to share their testimony with the pastors with the possibility of sharing it with the church. I know my story of God’s work in my life is not a super common one, and that it has a real potency to it, but many others have beautiful and important conversion stories too. But I’m excited and nervous to share it at church, in front of people. I hope, if and when it happens, that God will use it well.
Also, my own little amusement that I just can’t get over…Pastor Ryan is Australian, and he says “mate.” It’s made me smile since we started attending over a year ago, and now that my husband and I have had some personal conversations with him, I STILL get a little smile inside when he says it. I think part of it is that I grew up absolutely loving Steve Irwin. You know, the crocodile hunter. I cried when he died. He said “mate” a lot too. I’m just fond of it I guess.
As for church itself, with the first Sunday since the sad news, it went alright. I almost cried listening to the announcement about it before the sermon, even though the statement was very similar to what had been posted online by the church already. There were no surprises, it’s just hard. No matter what he did wrong, I feel terrible that part of Pastor Mark’s decision came because of the danger his family had been put in during the whole mess, and even if he deserved any of what happened, his wife and children didn’t. But people were there. I was afraid there were going to be a lot less, since a number of attendees and members have abandoned Mars Hill rather than riding out the difficulty like the family a church should be, but it wasn’t too bad. As long as the pastors keeps faithfully preaching Jesus and reaching out to the community, I think growth can start again.
Well. Obviously, I’m now looking forward to my first time with the student ministry, which I think will be the second Sunday of November. I’m sure there will be more to share then.