OK, a few of my friends are writing their thoughts on the fading year, so I figure I’d join the party. Here’s my thoughts on the previous year.
- Designed in Mission was the most ambitious undertaking I’ve ever done. The idea of bringing together a dozen conversation partners to leave Central with a gift of wisdom as it begins to transition was a good one. If you haven’t seen the videos, check them out on CrossPointings.org (which needs a major over-haul). For members of Central, DVD’s are half-way completed.
- Kingdom Collision was a challenging sermon series for me to prepare. It entailed a great deal of reading and research which started in March of 2008. It was good to be able to express the First Century political implications of Jesus’ preaching – and use those implications to help Christians ponder their own political involvement. The fact that we have members from a wide swath of the political spectrum made it more enjoyable – everyone was challenged at some point.
- I started reading a great deal more American History. Not only has it increased my appreciation for the uniqueness of what happened at the founding of this nation – it’s given me even more pride at the role my native city (Philly) played in forging the political, religious, and social values of the United States.
- This is perhaps the most important thing for me – I taught both my children how to ride on two wheels. This meant that I got much needed exercise as we rode around town together. Personally, it made me feel like a dad – I often wonder if I’m able to teach my kids anything, and seeing them on two wheels was as much a rite of passage for me as it was for them. It also made our week at the beach a BLAST.
- I got to see my wife come into her own as a children’s minister at Central. Her ambitions for our children’s ministry are exactly what this church needs. Imagine, a church in which the kids grow up knowing the arc of the Biblical story! I hope she puts the curriculum together for other churches to use.
- For the second year running, 2008 had me increase my involvement with Eastern University’s student chaplains. I got to work with them in a class session and led them on their winter retreat (hosted at Central). In January 2009 they’ll be coming for their third retreat (which I’m feverously preparing).
- I continued to work with ABCNJ as their ministry and technology guy. This year will probably see me increasing my involvement there as churches become more aware of the resources we can offer. I also have to migrate our site to joomla 1.5.x in January which will make my head explode, I’m sure. People on the ABCNJ staff seem to appreciate what I bring to the table (both in terms of geek-lore and theological reflection), so it’s a pleasure to work with them. At the same time, I’m also part of the establishment now so I have to fight the urge to scoff at myself.
- My proposal to lead a session on “Sermon Painting” got accepted at the Bible and Technology conference. While this opportunity will play it’s way out in 2009, it came to be in 2008 so I list it here. Yes, I’m going to Seattle, land of 10,000 coffee shops (suggestions for “must visits” are welcome).
Things I could have done without
- Too many funerals. One funeral is too many, I had more than that. I’m tired of buring people, can we do some baptisms please?
- I hate congregational politics, I hate the sense of entitlement people have in a congregation from which congregational politcs springs. Why is it always about winners and losers instead about becoming like Jesus?
- Evangelicalism™ pretty much made 2008 the year I even stopped mentally associating with Evangelicalism and Evangelicals at all. I don’t have time to be that angry and resentful. Frankly, my soul can’t take it. Where this leaves me in Protestantism remains to be seen – I could have done without this stress.
- Too many friends had their marriages break up. For their sake I could do without this soul-wrenching division.
Things I need to improve
- Project management. Frankly, I suck at project management. I’m not a manager-type, it’s not my strength. Yet, I see the value of management for specific tasks (like prepping a sermon series or event, for example). I need to do a better job at managing projects so people feel included, valued, and empowered for our shared ministry at Central. For an introvert, this is a daunting undertaking – but if we’re going to be moving forward I need to be a ton more deliberate in this respect. Both Kingdom Collision and Designed in Mission could have been milestone movements at Central if I would have taken a more managerial role in developing them – that they weren’t as good as they should have been comes down on my shoulders.
- I also need to develop what I can only call a better grasp of “idea management.” My head swarms with ideas and thoughts – so I end up bouncing from one to the other. Often this is because the ideas spring from each other, but sometimes it’s because I simply try to make too many of my ideas into reality at the same time. I’d like to see the things I ponder come into fruition more readily, while keeping the joy in the work alive. Chalk this up to ADD – my french-press medication is doing it’s part, now I need to work with it more.
So there’s my thoughts on 2008. See you in 2009 – in which I’ll talk about my short-comings some more.