July 2020 update
As always, I am excited to update y'all on ministry, even if we are living in a Covid-19 world right now. First, I want you guys to take a minute to read Keanna's story below. I've gotten to know Keanna more this year and I think she is such a blessing to the people around her. Check it out!
What has summer been like?
Obviously, Covid-19 has presented some unique limitations for all of us! Whether with work, family, friends, church, extra curricula's, etc. That's certainly true for us as well. However, Jesus is alive an active, and by his grace so is our ministry. Unique problems require some unique solutions! During a normal summer, I'd be spending time on a Thursday night with 300+ college students for a fellowship night, I'd be in a 40 person staff meeting on Mondays, I'd be meeting with groups of students throughout the week, meeting up with people who partner with me in ministry, meeting in groups to help other staff people fundraise, hosting people at my house, preparing for big events for the summer! Though the ability to do things in those particular ways have been stripped away, we are still able to do ministry. God reminds me week in and week out that there is still meaningful work to do. Prayer and reading (pastoral books and scripture) has become a higher priority than before for me, I'm still meeting with different groups of girls, though it's on zoom and doing bible studies there, I've been meeting virtually with a few girls who walked away from God but have made consistent time to meet together and they initiated with me by the way, we still have our 40 person staff meeting on Mondays though it's on zoom, we still have our Thursday Night Fellowship and have created opportunities for people to meet (while distanced and masked in smaller groups outside) and have the option for zoom, and we are preparing for the new year. Also- we all expected fundraising for the year to be way more difficult because we are in a Pandemic, but we think that this is actually the best year we have had for fundraising. Go figure! God is incredibly extravagant. So, I praise him for leading us as we problem solve along the way. Opportunities to minister are still bountiful despite our limitations. It's just who God is and what he does. Thank you for praying and financially supporting us!
As part of our staff development, we are actively engaged in book clubs throughout the year. The current book we're reading is called Pastor by William H. Willimon. It's a pretty long, somewhat dense book about the theology and practice of being a pastor. It's been really helpful to think through. As campus pastors, we wear a lot of different hats: coach, mentor, pastor, counselor (as in providing hopefully wise counsel, not replacing actual licensed counselors), teachers, prophets, evangelizers, shepherds, and I'm sure the list can go on. As a group, our FOCUS staff is relatively young in our experience as pastors barring a handful of people! This book has been helpful to think through internalizing the role of pastor more and to think through different aspects that I may have been avoiding. I am a pastor in Denton because God has called me to serve these students and I am a pastor because I believe in the power of Jesus to radically change people and help people love others.
Some nuggets I've been reflecting on from this book are: "Pastoral caregiving often trumps pastoral truth-telling", "Perhaps our overarching goal in our pastoral counseling ought to be contributing to our people's maturity in Christ, growth rather than health", and "The caring pastor places present sufferings next to the sufferings of Christ, allows the compassion of Christ to shine through our acts of care, helps troubles sounds see the trials and tribulations of this life as preparation for and participation in life eternal in Christ, and dares to assert that even in our pain and difficulty Christ calls us to lives of holiness and hope. This is care worthy of the name pastoral". I think I'm reflecting on these specifically because I sometimes lack confidence in the Spirit to lead me, so I settle for relying on my own strength or what is comfortable when ministering. We rarely grow when we're comfortable. I think sometimes when I tell someone the truth, I can let their negative reaction convince me that I made a mistake. That's not necessarily the case. So, please pray for wisdom for me as I navigate this tension of caregiving, truth telling, and calling others to maturity.
Thankful for y'all,