Not so long ago, I was at my home church having been away for awhile when I ran into a friend in ministry from another tradition. I expressed genuine delight at seeing this person with their family at ‘my’ church and voiced my assumption that they were visiting. “Oh”, they said, “we’ve been coming here for awhile now.” Mildly taken aback, I expressed even greater delight while stifling my surprise and my temporary embarrassment. Actually, I wanted to say, “Yes, of course you’re here now. How come I didn’t know this? I thought you belonged somewhere else.”
Please don’t misunderstand. I was truly pleased to discover that this couple had chosen to sojourn with us. They are gifted mature disciples of Jesus Christ who would not have made a decision like this without careful thought and prayerful discernment. My ‘mixed’ reaction probably had more to do with coming to terms with the reality of change experienced recently ‘in transition’ myself. I truly believe, in fact, that this family’s transition could be an example of God ‘shuffling the deck’ for his kingdom purposes.
Not far into my newly-minted tenure as an Anglican rector (translate ‘senior pastor’) of a relatively large urban parish, I was confronted with a dilemma. “You are pastoring a lot more people than you’re used to, David. Who’s pastoring you?” As has already been documented in these pages by Doug and Brent, the fabric of our ‘soul group’, which has been woven together by our mutual calling as pastors in the city, has been at least a partial response to that question.
That weaving project began 15 years ago and is still under way. Many of my issues and concerns are different now. I have recently retired from a ‘full time’ senior pastor’s role and find myself formally in transition. I have a new set of joys and challenges, including a beautiful country property to look after in the summer along with some recently diagnosed health issues. But, two related themes keep me more motivated and passionate than ever in pursuing transparency in peer-to-peer community.
I am a raging introvert. In a Myers-Briggs test, my introvert score was 98%. God wired me this way, and he also called me to be a pastor. This just proves that God has a sense of humour.
The Urban Monastery is about telling our adventures in community. It costs an introvert to be in community. My energy is best restored when I am alone. I feel drained when I am around people for too much time. As a pastor I am around people a lot. There are times and places where, if I don’t show up, I am missed – like Sunday Morning. Being with people is not optional. As a pastor I need to spend time, either leading, or discipling or planning and administrating. One of the gifts a pastor brings to people is the ministry of presence.
As we begin this journey, it seems fitting that we draw on some classical humour. Of course, the real intent of this blog is to share the collective experiences of three very different men, from three very different traditions. All of us have walked together over 15 years and have shared our lives, our loves, our frustrations, and our joys. We do spend time in a lot of restaurants, including bars and coffee shops, where we speak about our lives as ministers of the Gospel, the people we serve, and the families we love. Our times are always rich, and have proven the wisdom of sharing in the communion of saints. We hope you’ll enjoy journeying with us.