I haven’t technically “updated” you guys in awhile. My last post wasn’t really an update as much as it was just some musings about theology and church. Thank you, by the way, for your kind comments about it. I’ll write more in the future on similar topics. The past two weeks have been great. I have been staying fairly busy, which is good for me because I thrive on a full, task-oriented schedule.
Since I last updated everyone (on June 1st), I have really been relishing some great conversations here at Word of Life. In particular, talking with Pastor Derek and Pastor Eric has been wonderful. Both of them are so insightful, and I relate to each of them differently.
Pastor Derek has a very similar personality to me. We are both intense planners, task-oriented, and natural leaders. Both of us have introverted tendencies and enjoy time alone, whether it is spent planning, studying, or relaxing. It’s great that we share these tendencies, because he’s able to talk about leadership and a pastoral role from a very familiar perspective. We’ve had a few really great talks in the past weeks. He’s shared a wonderful time management plan with me, that is ideal for ministers. It involves splitting your week not into hours, but into blocks. If you’d like to know more about it, just ask. It’s simple but brilliant. We’ve also been talking about a lot of pastoral leadership things. Good stuff.
Pastor Eric is just so wise. He is a wealth of knowledge and wisdom. I love sitting down to talk to him twice a week. I always learn so much, either about myself, the church, society, humanity, or life. Or all of the above. We’ve been talking a lot lately about the importance of just being. And letting being be enough. Too much of the time we – as the church, as a society, as individuals – are obsessed with doing. So much so that we forget that we are not the ones doing the work, rather we are the work that God is doing (to borrow an idea from Peterson’s Practice Resurrection). Not only have we been talking about spiritual and conceptual things, we’ve also been discussing practical leadership theories and experiences. I’m so thankful to be under the leadership of not one, but two great mentors this summer.
I’ve been privileged to lead worship for two services so far at WOLC. The first was a Wednesday Noon Prayer service last week. It went really well. Some nice ladies offered very encouraging comments afterward, which made me miss my church family at Living Hope because it reminded me of some of the encouraging church members that regularly greet me after service!
The second time I led was for a staff chapel this past Tuesday. I was incredibly honored and humbled to lead some of the most insightful, wise people that I’ve ever met in a time of corporate worship. I was reminded – as I am often – of how blessed I am to be here at Word of Life. And to lead a group of people I consider myself far less than was quite sobering. I enjoyed it, though. And the relaxed, informal atmosphere made it easy to feel at home with the rest of the staff. They’ve been very gracious in welcoming me in this summer.
This past week has been WOLC Vacation Bible School. We kicked off the week with a family fun night on Sunday. The parking lot was full of inflatables, games, relay races, face painting, and food. After the mini-carnival, the parents were invited to participate in the first VBS service with the kids. Then, Monday through Thursday consisted of kids-only services with worship, small groups, crafts, games, and enthusiastic but exhausted volunteers.
Each night of the week, I was able to shadow Jennifer Clark, who is the children’s pastor’s wife. She and her husband Alan absolutely love these kids. I can tell from just a week with them that they are totally invested in this ministry. It’s great to see all the kids looking up to them with such respect and wonder.
Corporate Worship for Kids
“Shadowing” Jennifer seemed like the best way to get involved with VBS, because I was able to see all the intricacies involved with leading children in worship. I have led kids in worship songs before, but never like this! Leading for about a hundred kids in a focused, energetic setting is obviously way different than playing an acoustic guitar for ten kids at a summer camp. Each night, I observed the sound check and rehearsal, and then joined the kids during the actual service.
Jennifer had a team of volunteers (girls ages twelve to sixteen) who helped lead every night. These are the same girls that volunteer for weekend services. Normally, elementary schoolers are also involved in the leadership team, but for VBS they were given a week off to just enjoy the time with their peers. They use backing tracks with flashy lyric videos. They dance and jump and twirl ribbons and do hand motions. As Pastor Derek noted, it’s “half worship, half aerobics.” I was taken aback by this at first – sensory overload! But meeting with Jennifer throughout the week really helped me understand why this is the way they lead the kids in worship.
Children are such visual learners. VBS is for grades Pre-K through 6, and all of the kids are in a stage of life where they are very malleable. Actions speak louder than words. Therefore, worship leaders must always be visually energetic when working with kids. Not that we are to create a false, contrived energy, but rather we should simply be demonstrative with the enthusiasm we already have for corporate worship. We are not “faking” anything when we dance and sing and shout in worship with kids. Even if that is not how a leader typically worships, they must take into account that children can’t perceive a leader’s thoughtful, inward focus and devotion. Children know what they see. So teaching them to worship involves showing them how to worship.
It was great to get to know Jennifer and her team of leaders this week. All of the volunteers have such hearts of gold. They are all in it for the right reasons. They were an encouragement to me, even though I barely know them, as we met nightly and prayed before each service. Their investment in the Kingdom of God is priceless. Children are the future of the church, and teaching them to live worshipful lives is worth more than words can express.
I’ve been here for just over a month, and I have a little over five weeks left. I’ve been extremely fortunate to work with such flexible supervisors here. Some things that were originally big parts of my schedule at WOLC have been tweaked. I won’t be serving in MYC as much as originally planned. Instead, there will be a few select weeks that I will play on the worship team. Also, I won’t be as involved with 678. If you want to know more about the specific changes and details, just ask me!
I was hesitant to cut out such big components of the internship at first, but I believe that their place will be filled with even more valuable experiences. I am going to be working with a few student musicians one-on-one (details are still in the works), which is awesome. Having close relationships with students (as leaders we are teachers) and fellow volunteers is one of the best ways to lead.
Remnant is a leadership/service mini-internship for high schoolers. It started yesterday, and is going to take place every Friday for the rest of the summer. The youth leaders selected students that have leadership potential to participate in Remnant. These students are being invested in through teaching, service, relationship, and training throughout the summer. Pretty much all the students I have gotten to know so far will be participating in Remnant in some way, shape, or form. So I didn’t have to worry that leaving my position in MYC would hinder those relationships. They will continue to grow, thanks to Remnant.
Pastor Derek is teaching a theology class and a leadership class to the Remnant students every Friday. I am going to be attending those along with the students. The leadership class will be especially beneficial! I agree with many of his thoughts on leadership and great leaders, and I love the servant leader perspective that the class is incorporating.
Other Goings On
It’s hard to believe that I’m almost halfway through with the summer. I’m beginning to miss Lexington and everyone at home, especially John. But the rest of the summer is sure to hold great things.
I’ve been trying to write some music. I am finding that lyrics come easier to me than melodies. I love words. I am always writing words. I blog (obviously), journal, write letters, write poems, essays, lyrics, you name it. But music? Yes, I love music, but rearely do I find myself inspired enough to write it. It never comes easy. I’m hoping that can begin to change this summer. Hopefully some good will come of my effort and I’ll have something to show for it by the end of my time here.
I’m also really enjoying Pastor Brian’s sermons lately. He is currently preaching on the 7 Story gospel. There are seven basic stories that we tell, and each of them is really trying to tell the ultimate story: the gospel. Great material. Also, last night he preached one of the best sermons I have heard in a very long time. And that’s saying something. It was based on a blog post that he wrote called “Cannonball Jesus.” You can listen to the sermon here. (Don’t read the blog, and especially don’t listen to the sermon unless you are ready for a chilling slap in the face by a blinding, burning light. AKA the real Jesus.)
I’d love your prayers as I venture into the second half of my internship. Pray for time management. I don’t want to waste any time here; I want to soak it all in. I know I’ve said that many times, but it’s still just as true.
It seems unrelated, but I’d also appreciate prayers regarding finding a job. When I come home in the summer, I have nowhere to work. And I need a place to work. After this summer I have to go back to the world of tuition, bills, and commuter expenses. I won’t have much time to job hunt, so I’m praying that the right door opens up just in time.
I’ve also been looking at grad schools a lot lately, and thinking quite a bit about post-college life. In about 10 months, my whole life is going to drastically change. Sometimes, all my thoughts keep me up at night. I’m not totally terrified, but simply overwhelmed by the possibilities. I’ve been lying awake at night with a racing mind just because I think so, so much about the future. Pray that God will grant me peace and discernment. I need to choose the right school, be able to fund said schooling, and make other important decisions. But I also don’t want to worry away the last 10 months of my undergrad career. I want to savor them and use them to learn a lot. Pray for that balance.
I’ll be sure to update again soon! Thank you guys for keeping in touch with me. Your phone calls, packages, and internet interaction mean so much to me.