Thursday, 28 May 2015

Getting ready

Blimey, probation isn't half flying in fast. Sunday will mark the 11 month mark. I really can't believe there's only 4 months to go!

Added to that is the realisation that there are some things which, in the next few weeks, I'll be doing for the last time at Airside Kirk. Or, the next time they happen may be less than 2 weeks before my time there is up!

I can honestly say, I have loved it. And continue to love it. Yes, there have been lower times, but that was me getting to grips with where I am spiritually and as a minister, rather than anything at Airside. I know I've come a long way, as the confidence in who I am, and what I am called to do is truly part of me, in a very real and deep down way.

Even more scary is in less than 4 weeks, I will have a review which will determine if I can begin the process of 'applying' for a charge. It's exciting and really quite terrifying all at the same time. Though there doesn't seem to be anything major, I'm taking nothing for granted about that.

Worryingly, or maybe not, there is one church which would like me to apply to them. That's not official, official, it you know what I mean, but they are quite keen on me. Not sure if I feel called, which is a shame, as they are lovely.

This week I've been filling in my forms which look at what I've done, how I've develop, over the year. I HATE FILLING IN FORMS. But I want to get them right, and give a fair and honest reflection on what I've achieved. The Boss also writes a report and we get to see one another's. I've always like the openness of this system. In this case, because supervision has been spot on, I suspect 121 might think we've copied and pasted from one another. But, that shows The Boss has done her job right, I think.

Then, the other night, I have a mock interview, as if I was applying for Airside. It was really useful and I can see where I could have answered better, where I answered well and questions I would want to put to a nom com. It was a bit surreal, too, though, as the group and I know one another very well. It's lovely how seriously they took it, how much effort and prep went into it and how much they want to help me as much as they can. Pity I can't take them with me, but I've been told I can't have them by The Boss!

Wherever I go I know it will be the right place and I will be the best minister I can be because of all who've worked with me since I began this journey 7 years ago, especially Airside. I'll miss them; boy will I miss them.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Getting real

Ten and a half months, that's how long I've been on probation. On one level, it feels as though I've been at Airside Kirk for years, but on the other hand, the time hasn't half flown in. So, deadlines are coming up. And they are making me 'glup.'

There's a church law essay, which I have been procrastinating over for a while. (Actually, still am!). Then, at the same time, the various forms The Boss and I need to fill in, assessing and reflecting on all I've done, go into 121. They form the basis for the discussion at my final review, which is towards the end of June. If that review goes well, I can 'properly' begin bouncing up and down and saying "pick me, pick me" to various churches.



And this is where the 'what church would be daft enough to take me' doubts creep in. On one level, I really do know I can do this. Since beginning training, I have experience how God has, and continues, to gift me with what I need to follow my calling. That has been most in evidence through this probationary period.

People, especially within the congregation, have told me to have greater confidence in my abilities. And I know where they are coming from, but I also know there's a fine line between confidence and complacency and/or cockiness. There's being realistic, without being self-deprecating, while always relying on God.

Oh, and before the essay and forms are due, before the final interview, my wonderful (and I do mean this, they are wonderful) support group are going to put me through a mock interview. For which I'll (I think) need to prepare a CV. And work out what questions I'll ask. I don't want to do it, but know I need to...

And a CV. Oh, there are people in the congregation who can help with this, but I am really bad at selling myself. If I'm being honest, I sort of object to having to sell myself, but how else is a congregation who may want me going to know what I am coming with. I know an application form, then I have fixed questions to answer. Argh. But needs must. Must remember not to be flippant with it!

It's all getting a bit 'real.' Was always going to. But it's definitely where I should be going and I know God is with me and before me and around me every step of the way.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Be careful about jumping to conclusions

Now that I am heading closer and closer to the point where, God willing, I can begin to formally apply for my 'own' church, many questions are beginning to spring up. Where to go? What kind of minister am I? How do I sell myself? (that is one of the questions I don't like at all).

People get concerned for Spot - what would he do? It's nice people are interested, but I don't think people really believe he will go wherever I go. He's studying for his degree at the moment, distance learning, so that isn't a barrier. And we, and I know we're very luck in this regard, can manage quite comfortably on 1 salary. The joys of being mortgage free!

I do suspect there are some who wonder why we manage. Again, it's nice they are concerned, but it really isn't anyones business but ours. Funny, I think some people put 2 and 2 together and come up with 73. Does get me thinking about all the ways we all jump to conclusions about people's circumstances, based on what we assume is going on, or based on who we think they should live. Just a wee bit of me thinks that's going on with Spot and my circumstances. I just wish those who wonder would just ask. They may get a surprise.

And maybe that's a lesson for us all. Ask before drawing conclusions and find out all the facts before drawing them. But, we're all human, we all jump to conclusions. The key, I think, is to realise when we're projecting our own standards onto others, and those standards aren't right for the other.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Messy Church - it's not really for everyone

As with a growing number of churches, Airside Kirk host a regular Messy Church. Over the time I have been involved in these at Airside, I have seen a growth in numbers attending and a deepening of relationships between families, and between those of us from Airside Kirk would help run Messy. There's definitely something happening there and I will be sad not to be around for much longer.

The thing that gets to me about Messy is the argument that Messy isn't for children, it's for all. While I agree with the former part of that statement, I do not agree it is for all. That's not just from my experience at Airside, but based on a lot of thinking about this over the last wee while. (Triggered, in part, with thinking about how to 'attract' couples without children to hear and learn about the gospel).

If Messy is open to all, then I wonder how organisers of Messy churches would react if a single person (especially a man on his own) came to Messy. I don't think we'd know what to do. Yet, I'm told Messy is for everyone.

And, if I'm being totally honest, if I wasn't involved in church, I would not go to Messy. Yes, Spot and I are a family, but we are a family without children. Where would we fit into Messy? And how would those who come to Messy react?

This isn't a criticism of Messy church. Not really, honest! I think there's never going to be a one size fits all model of church. Messy is one way of being church, it's not the only one and that's great, because there's diversity in God (the trinity) and people reflect that diversity.

I still have no answers as to how Messy could become truly for all. Maybe it never can, is that a bad thing? I don't think so, I think those of us who are involved in Messy should acknowledge that.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Worrying about others or myself

It's nearly 10 months since I began probation at Airside Kirk. Wow - that's certainly flown in, but with it comes the ever growing realisation that it won't be that long till I'll be moving on from there. Aaaaarrrrgggghhhhh.....

God willing, I'll 'pass' my final review (the intensive interview which decides if I can can proceed to ordination, and which allows me to being the formal search for 'my' church). Then I have 3 months to find a job, before I'm unemployed. I know everyone tells me I'll find somewhere without a problem, but I'll begin counting chickens once they've hatched!

I have been looking, on occasion, at parish profiles, so I have a bit of an idea where I may go. I am trying to be as open minded as possible, as if I say I am not going somewhere, I can guarantee that's where I'll end up.

In among this all, I am still learning (but that will never stop), still growing, still doing what I am called to do, which includes supporting colleagues - especially (at this stage) those of us who are also on probation. I have been sometimes concerned how they will manage once 'on their own,' but I now realise it's been a whole load of projection on my part.

I am concerned how I'll manage once I am 'The Minister.' Once there's no more buck passing (not that I get to do that much, but I hope you know what I mean); once I go somewhere new and I have to begin the whole process of getting to know the congregation, the parish etc again.

I know this is the way it much be. And there are things which, I completely support, I wouldn't necessarily do it that way, long term, where I might go. There's things I may say in another context, I would not say at Airside. Perhaps not because they shouldn't hear it, but because it would not fit with what they're used to (sorry, being deliberately vague!).

So, I need to think, when I wonder about others, am I really wondering about myself? And, if I am being honest, the answer is yes.