Some kind of random stuff bouncing around in my brain…
So on Ash Wednesday I caught myself.
I had opened social media as I so often do, and I started to respond to a post. And I was angry… And on that holy day, when I was spending the “whole day” focused on 3 services with imposition of ashes… and repentance and entering into Lent and the mystery of Christ’s life and suffering… I lost that focus for a moment.
And I realized I had… and I thought to myself: “Self… this is not good.”
As I caught myself I made a spur of the moment decision and instead of posting the angry thing, I posted that I was taking a Facebook and Twitter fast for Lent. Now I had a caveat – I am heavily involved in leadership of a couple soccer supporters groups that use Facebook and Twitter as primary communications, my peer covenant group uses it, and I am the lead poster for the church I serve. I could not just go cold turkey and uphold those responsibilities – so I stated messenger would be active and I’d be posting as those other entities.
I’m a week in… and I’m learning. One thing I am now much more aware of is how “checking FB” is a transitional act – I click those icons without thinking almost every time I end one task and before another… since I made a point of logging out of my personal account and changing, but not saving the password, I have to be intentional about logging in and for what purpose I am. I have also learned how to use some separate apps to manage the pages so that I don’t have to. But it’s clearly a habit, with good and bad aspects. Because I recognized that, I chose not to take the “break” Lent offers on Sunday as a little Easter and continued my fast.
And I’ll confess I have logged in as me anyway. Once to post for my anniversary, a couple times to post as myself on the soccer sites (so I could add to discussion without seeming to dictate a result as the account itself). and I’ve scrolled… and I’ve started to like or comment… which is not a fast. But in the scrolling I’ve learned some things.
I’ve learned how much of my basic awareness of the news of the day is driven by social media – BCC, National news sites, the Wichita Eagle and various other papers – I primarily consume through social media. And I’ve learned a lot about my peer and friend relationships. I have had to be very intentional about not engaging with many joyful and sad occurrences. I’ve had to be silent about the wildfires, a tornado, some births and birthdays… I’ve found that much harder to do than to be silent about politics.
As much as I want… and think it’s important… to comment on the politics stuff – and as much time as I know I usually spend doing so – it hasn’t been very tempting. That’s interesting to me. The tempting part has been the relational aspects… and I think that’s a good thing. Far flung friends and family, seminary peers, colleagues – social media let’s me keep in touch with a large group! It makes me more social!
As I continue this fasting journey I’m going to be thinking about how I can make sure I spend my social media energy AFTER lent 0n those relationship things. Yet the politics and policy matter…
On that note, I’m also excited. Some big changes are happening in the Great Plains Conference that I serve – to be expected with a new Bishop. The reason for the changes is that the status quo hasn’t been bearing the abundance of fruit we feel called to. The change is confusing, a bit frightening and definitely challenging. I don’t know how it will play out and I am, frankly, concerned for the folks serving as District Superintendents as their workload changes and increases. But I am ALL IN on the reason for the changes – the focus is shifting from serving the church to serving the mission field. Pastors are now being appointed not “to a church” but “to the mission field the charge is located in.” I am delighted by that.
It is so easy to get sucked into the routine – the meetings, that Sunday is always coming, and even the problems… that the vacuum isn’t working or the trailer got stolen… that we don’t leave any room for how to we engage with the folks living around us and we tend to become specialized experts exerting control rather than equipping others… the folks here and the folks who are not yet here.
But if Jesus shows us anything it’s that ministry is about equipping those who are here to lead and grow to new levels, while you and they constantly invite and serve others… hmmm.
One of my first “ministry jobs” was a short term one. I was hired by a church to be the Director of Adult Education – with the goal of the position being to move leadership of Disciple classes from the pastors to the laity. I was a stepping stone. When I was hired there were 3 Disciple classes led by 2 pastors. The next year a pastor led 1 and I led 2 as a lay staff person… the next year I led 1 and lay members led 2… and after I moved on to attend seminary and serve a church – there were 4 classes led by 4 lay members. Those lay members have gone on to be great leaders in the church – both locally and regionally. Because leading a group like that as a lay person is transformative. I know.. because I got the chance to do it myself. That experience is what qualified me to become the director of Adult Ed – and that experience – being in a position with the goal of making the position unnecessary – has come back to me this past few weeks as I’ve read about the changes happening in our conference. I think Bishop Saenz is on to something.
My ordination service featured a sermon called “the Not Yet Church” – the speaker challenged us to remember it’s not about us. It’s not about our congregations. It’s about Christ and our neighbors. I’m excited by that – being a pastor isn’t about being in charge, it’s about being the missional strategist that engages others and encourages them. I had that experience – and I went very quickly from outside the church to engaged to sent forth – because people saw gifts and encouraged them. My call has long been summed up by the phrase “Find your path… share your journey.” It’s about helping people discover God’s presence in their lives, find a vocabulary for expressing that and living into it. I think another great way of saying that is “Making Disciples for Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World.” That’s the mission
And to do that – we have to engage… which brings me back to how I use social media.
So as the fast continues – I’ll note what I’m missing out on…
I’ll try to break the habits of clicking on the apps just to click instead of doing so with a specific purpose… I’ll think about how I can maximize engagement rather than scrolling… and I’ll be continuing to think about how I can engage constructively on the politics and sports stuff in a way that makes people want to know me and know about the faith that guides me… and makes a positive difference, especially for the marginalized. I want to use these tools in a way that equips and encourages others… Not easy to do… but important.
The journey continues…