In the Meantime,
When I got my initial training for interim ministry last spring I got a syllabus with lots of required reading and recommended reading, and handbooks and case studies, a small library of tools and techniques that honestly I could not begin to digest. That made me anxious. How could I possibly get all this done? Did I want to work this hard? Could I even get it all done?
Slowly, as with all learning, the immensity and intensity began to settle into a whole rather than a blizzard of parts. All these tools and techniques were a kit, the means not the ends. I began to realize choosing the right wrench was not the task, but seeing the goal.
In interim ministry that comes down to making room. Institutions like churches and congregations are spiritual attics. I have served churches between 300 years old and barely forty years old but they all had stuff that had accumulated over time. I mean both actual stuff and emotional stuff. We once lived in a parsonage where the linoleum was hallowed because a former preacher had laid it down. That made it hard for me to ask for improvements. I was surrounded by the past, and felt more like a museum curator than a spiritual leader.
Preserving memories is important, but if you keep everything from the past there is no room for the future. And few people join congregations whose unwritten mission is to revere the past.
That is not true of VUU. I detect no ‘edifice complex’ here, or ‘relics of saints.’ But there are habits of the heart as de Toqueville called them, the often unexpressed assumptions and values that explain why you do this and not that, which are in this place. It is not my task to remove them, but to ask if you want to keep them and if so why.
I am a spiritual Marie Kondo, as it were, opening the drawers and doors and asking, “does this spark joy?” And if it does not, to suggest that you give it away so that there is room for future joy. All the techniques and tools come down to this, helping you make room for your future joy. It’s your choice, not mine. But if you can, choose joy. – FW –