Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A bone to pick

I have a bone to pick. First of all, that is a funny phrase, "bone to pick" apparently its origins are simply about dogs gnawing on bones for a long time (pick a good one, I guess).

 The bone is with my beloved church. Not my local church, but the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The deeper I move into my pastoral career, the more clear I am that I am called to work with children and youth (forever, not just a stepping stone to more "important" ministry). I love them, and I love my church that I have been a part of for a lifetime. As a denomination, we're shrinking, getting smaller- and it's not just us- most mainline, American denominations are doing the same. I understand that that means cuts, and less staff but I'm a little fired up about Youth and Children's Ministries. We haven't had a full time staff member for at the denominational level for youth in many years- I wasn't even old enough in ministry to get up in arms about that because I didn't know what was happening. For the years that followed we at least had a staff person whose job it was to work with Youth Ministries- then more and more was added to that job description and eventually then that staff position was eliminated all together. To my knowledge, there is no one at the general church level whose job it is to work with youth ministry in our denomination. That doesn't mean there aren't amazing things happening for youth ministry in our denomination (check out DYMN if you don't already know about it), but there is not a lot happening officially at the general church.

 A few months ago, the staff person for Children and Family Ministries for the denomination retired. She was wonderful, I really admire Kaye Edwards. At the time her retirement was announced I thought- "that would be a really cool job to have." So when the position was announced I decided I would look into it. I wasn't happy with what I found.

 Instead of a full time staff member DHM plans to hire three part time people to take on this job. They want these people (at least the first two they are hiring) to work about 18 hours a week. I read through the job description- I loved it. I have all the skills required to advocate and educate as the denomination desires. But in that 18 hours a week they want the candidate not only to be in the office, but also they would like the person to work nights and weekends and travel "extensively" when required. In 18 hours a week? Really?

 Also, I noticed that ordination is not a requirement for this job- or even a preference. Hmmmm...really? 

I am not independently wealthy enough to be able to afford to apply for this job. Which is a bummer, because I would be really, really good at it.

 Church, I'm sad that we aren't able to value our children and youth as much as we should- or even as much as we say we do. We have to look at how we spend our money and time and not enough is being spent on our children and youth- who are not, by the way, not the future of the church, but the NOW of the church. And yes, I would like some cheese with that whine...


Peace Babe said...

Sunny, I too thought it would be a great gig and looked into it a little bit, but that was a while ago. I do have to say that I think Kaye was in support of the three part time people as opposed to one full time person in that it would allow those three people to be in different parts of the country. That is all I remember from a conversation I had with Kaye. Don't get me wrong - the "travel extensively" within 18 hours a week and the lack of anyone in children, youth or young adult ministry within the general church is frustrating - but I think there are SOME models of ministry that are changing for the positive. The change might be preempted by budget constraints, but they are thinking creatively. I also struggle with the whole "non-ordained" thing, but Kaye wasn't ordained either and I think that speaks volumes to what lay people can do in the church IF we support them. Now getting the general church to support certain areas of ministry is the first struggle... it never ends, does it?


Sunny B. Ridings said...


Thank you so much for your comments, I knew there was more to the story than what I was seeing.

I totally agree that lay people should be considered for positions like this and can do a fantastic job. I guess I would like to see an encouragement or preference for ordained folks to apply. I think theological training would be a huge plus for this job!

I also agree that some models of ministry are changing for the positive and I think that will continue to happen as we transform the church which we will have to do to remain faithful.

These conversations are so important! I'm grateful for the discussion that is taking place here and on my facebook page where I posted a link to this blog.

Thanks again!

Randy said...

I knew you were one of my heroes, Sunny. Glad to be a partner traveling this same road.