May 02, 2008

Getting Started

One of the stained glass windows in the sanctuary of Bixby Knolls Christian Church.I had thought that I would be nervous, that I wouldn't be able to sleep, the night before the congregation voted on whether or not to call me as their pastor. However, it was the night after the vote, the night before my first day "on the job," that I found it hard to sleep.

To be called to pastor a new congregation is a very humbling thing. A lot of hope rests on your shoulders. My new congregation, like so many others, has had some difficult times, and has spent the past several years healing from a very divisive period in their life. The healing, from what I can tell, was good, and now they are ready to move on.... Now they are looking to me to lead them into their future, which, they hope, will be a good one.

I know that this is the ministry to which I am called, the place that is right for me. Yet I worry about all the hopes and expectations that this congregation has, now that the new pastor has arrived. Am I up to the task? Will I disappoint? Will I let them, and myself, down?

I started unpacking boxes in my office yesterday. Among all the books, I pulled out my M.Div diploma. I also pulled out the plaque that recognizes me as Chapman University's "Outstanding Senior Man" for 1993. Somewhere (I haven't come to it yet) is my ordination certificate. Surely someone who has accomplished what these items signify is capable of leading a congregation?

I also spent some time sorting through the stuff that previous pastors had left in the office. Among all this was a list that the congregation had come up with at some point in its recent past of their "unwritten norms and expectations." The congregation had evidently spent some time brainstorming all their unspoken expectations and put them down on paper, even those that they themselves wished they didn't have. After chuckling at the idea of a written list of unwritten expectations, I decided that these are good things to know.

After my first day in the office (which was Monday)--after being there, meeting some of the members who dropped by to introduce themselves--I slept better the next few nights. This Sunday, however, is my first day in the pulpit, and last night, I dreamed about it. In the dream, I wasn't quite prepared.

I'm sure that things will go well on Sunday. This is a good congregation, and I know it is where I belong. It will be a good day.... As long as I wear my robe. A pastor who wears a robe during worship is, after all, an "unwritten" expectation.


Lady Knapp said...

Best of luck, Danny! I know you will do well, and with some time, you will be leading your congregation to new heights. Blessings to you all!

Pastor Bob Cornwall said...

You have my blessings as well. Of course, I must wait a while for my debut!

Purple Hydrangea said...

My thoughts and prayer are with you as you prepare for your first day in the pulpit. Give my love to Ginger and the boys.

Rebecca said...


Will you continue to blog about church matters? I hope you will, because I enjoy reading what you write, but I guess that can be a dilemma. Blessings in the new job - sounds like things are coming together for you and your family!