Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Long and the Short of it

Earlier last week our church secratary (at least i think that is her official job description), asked me where my sparkel has gone ... I joked and said that once confirmation is over she can have anything she wants, even sparkel. Yesterday she came to me, with her gentle eyes that looks deeper than most, and asked since confirmation is now over when she could expect my sparkle to come back...

So here is the story - the long and the short of it:

I knew from an early age that i felt called into full-time ministry (at first i was thinking about mission). I did the whole running away thing for some time and studied high school education instead. In my final year i was confronted with the prospect of youth ministry and after having prayed long and hard about it made the change. I started out as a youth pastor and not long afterwords experienced a very strong called into what i believed was ordained ministry. I spend five years in youth ministry however before candidating for the ordained ministry. My first two years as a student minister was in the beautiful cape in a little place called Macassar (close to Somerset West in South Africa). Although this was a cross-cultural station i felt right at home and enjoyed every minute of my work there... and then out of the blue i got a call from the bishop to let me know that it was the decision from the presiding bishop that i have to move to Bloemfontein (do not go to those who need you but to those who need you most). So, with many tears, i left the beatiful Cape to go back to the place where i started out as a youth pastor. When I arrived i heard that they did not want me - but that i will have to do. I worked extremely hard trying to built up the 5 societies in my care and at the end of that year, i had the joy of seeing the fruit of my labour in that the two biggest societies were stable enough to each have their own minister now. What a joy to see the growth in a community that has not had the luxury of having their own minister for so long...

Unfortunately this was the begining of the end. I have stepped on many toes, been to vocal and with the added burden of ill health and the resulting academical miss step, i have finaly been discontinued from the ministry that I have put so much into. I left the ministry not having had the audience of either the bishop or presiding bishop and still in pain after a recent opp. My son was due to start School and we had to make some quick decisions. By the grace of God and with some help of friends we survived the two months without a stipend and without a place to really call "home". In Feb, i started in Uitenhage as a youth pastor, signing a 3year contract - so what is the problem?

I enjoy the young people and that while i enjoy the local church i find myself being highly sceptical of the church at large. I find the structures enslaving and the red tape limiting. I am beginning to wonder if i will ever be able to stand up in front of a synod again and declare that i believe and teach the doctrines of our church - not to mention adhering to its discipline. I cannot stay in youth ministry forever and i am pressuered from all sides to recandidate and go back into the same structure that spat me out only months ago. I find myself slipping into the role of minister all too easily when the need arises. I miss ministering through sacraments, i miss the diversity of the ordained ministry - but i cannot see myself going back into it.

I have a passion for people who do not fit the mould, for those who are sitting in the shadows. I long for a day when the church can truely be church and be set free from religion. I want to share the Good News of a God who loves, a God of grace, a God who is so much bigger than our understanding, a God who is real and oh so verry relavant. I long to show the other side of God. I have a passion for healing and reconciliation, I have a passion for young poeple and for showing a verry real alternative. I have a passion for God... But i do not know how or in what capacity to live this passion, this call. I am still to vocal, i still step on toes and my verry being goes against so much of what has become the expected mould that i cannot see a future for me in traditional church (he-he, perhaps that is why i get along so well with the youth).

Pray for me for clarity and wisdom as i urgently seek some direction on what it means for me to Be Under God's Supervision

Sparkelless bug


Mev Dominee said...


I am still there. and so is our loving Heavenly Father. Thru the long and the short of it.

I am looking forward to the day you get you sparkle back.

Love you

Sunflower said...

Ek stem saam vriendin! Maar ons volg en loof nie die kerk nie, mar God. Wat ons doen isi ve hulle nie, mar ve Hom! Jy gaan dit maak, Hy is met jou elke stap...en ek is hie wane j kofi nodig het!

Rock in the Grass (Pete Grassow) said...

you are an amazing woman. I admire your capacity to be a wife, a mother and a pastor. You inspire me.

Steven Jones said...

Hi BUGS (May I call you "Bugs"? I don't know your real name. However, I like the idea of “Being Under God’s Supervision” – we all need to get to that place in our lives)

I have been reading your blog for some time, and have been following your ministry journey. While I'm not going to be trite and say that I know how you feel (because I don't), I can recall having quite a few "punctures" along the journey towards becoming an accountant - one or two failed subjects (three years to pass Statistics I, for example), and one poor career choice where I followed the money, setting me back nearly four years. But eventually I managed to complete my studies and qualify, and despite taking "the road less travelled" at times, on the whole accountancy has been reasonably good to me and I have grown as a person.

I too have been disappointed by our church at times - you tend to find out when you are Circuit Treasurer who has integrity and who doesn't, and at times I feel that we lack an understanding of when grace should be exercised, and when to apply the law. I've seen situations where the hammer of law has come down on people who have made honest mistakes, and have also seen "grace" (i.e. nothing was done) in situations where the position of the person concerned had surely become untenable.

So why am I boring you with all of this? Your story (as told through your blog) has many parallels with mine. I have also "punctured" along the way. I am also rather outspoken, free to speak my mind even when others have not wanted to hear it. As a result, I have not always endeared myself to the "powers that be", although those who understand what makes me tick have allowed me my head of steam.

And through all of this, God has remained faithful. However, I'm still trying to work out why God would call this crazy, mixed-up accountant to serve Him in the ministry of the MCSA? I can think of hundreds who would be far more worthy, and would do a far better job than me.

Yet God has brought me this far, and I have been stationed as a Phase One probationer in 2009 - in Uitenhage! Which means that we are likely to meet shortly. What a small world?!

I'm quite excited at the prospect of starting my ministry with you. Two outspoken hotheads in the same Circuit - sounds like fun! I relish an "iron sharpens iron" situation, where people who are passionate about serving Christ with integrity can go at each other hammer and tongs, raising voices and temperatures on occasion, thereafter giving each other a big hug and reflecting on their discussions over coffee.

As one maverick hothead to another, I pray that whatever direction God takes you in concerning ministry, don’t ever lose that passion for Him. Your ministry to young people is clearly based on integrity – as a father of a 10 year-old son, I’ve found that while you can pull the wool over the eyes of many an adult, you can’t fool youngsters! And as for being vocal and stepping on toes – isn’t this what Jesus did with the “religious types” who showed outward forms of piety, but had no heart for the truth?

Be open to God, and he will surely bring back your “sparkle” – probably in a way that you would never have imagined. Whether this is through re-candidating for the ordained ministry or not doesn’t actually matter, as long as you believe in your heart that you are earnestly seeking to do God’s will. In the meantime, passionate youth pastors are like gold, especially in a church structure that claims to be a “youth-centred church” but in many ways continues to marginalise young people, especially at local level.

May God bless you in your ministry, and I pray that He will help you rediscover your “sparkle”. My prayers are also with “Mev Dominee” (whose blog I also read), and trust that his recovery is speedy and complete.

bugs said...

hi Steven, thank you for your comment. I am not only going to meet you soon, but we will also be neighbors. The flat you are moving into used to be a part of the house that we are living in. I am the YP at UMC and yes we will not only be working in the same circuit, but also share responsibilities in one of the societies (lol, until the boss changes his mind). looking forward to meeting you.

Andrew Riddin said...

My friend, I read this and my heart breaks.

Having been through the same experience of being discontinued and left lying bleeding at the side of the road, I know what you must be experiencing. I see my own story in your words, an experience I would not wish on another living soul.

And I kick myself for loosing touch with you, but maybe that had some higher purpose too.

I pray you continue on to wholeness, its a long and often lonely road, but knowing you, you will make the trip and do it well.