Monday, November 17, 2008

Apples and Oranges

Recently, through an odd series of events and connections, I reconnected with a friend from high school. I use the term "friend" loosely. We weren't close, but we weren't not friends either. We knew each other and were on good terms, though never knew a whole lot about each other. In a weird coincidence, he too is in ministry in my area. We had arranged to have lunch today and yesterday when hammering out details he invited me to worship at his church. He warned me that it was pretty charismatic and that I might not agree with everything their guest preacher endorsed. I went and enjoyed the worship music and was goodwith the speaking in tongues/holy shakes/etc that was clearly a part of their charismatic side. It was definitely different than the traditional services at my church, and 5 years ago I would have been freaked out. But I've become comfortable with the charismatic sides of ministries and don't question it too much.

After service, we talked for a good chunk of time. He caught me up on the crazy events of the past ten years in his life and we finalized the details for today's lunch.

Today we ended up talking for hours. From the most unexpected candidate I learned about the wonderful things he's doing in ministry. He's engaging and working with youth and young adults in innovative and fabulous ways. In a bit of a reality check, his ministry is a serious juxtaposition to mine. Next to his past, mine rivals Marsha Brady. Next to his ministry, mine rivals...I don't know old lady, at least. I'm normally okay with my old soul and my comfort at working with older adults. But today, talking with a peer from high school who's involved in a very different style and generation of ministry, I couldn't help but call my shortcomings to mind.

It was intimidating. I felt threatened. It was an odd feeling since I'm not threatened by many folks. But there it was. He was 'intrigued' by my worship service and said he'd surprise me some Sunday. While in many respects I'd be glad to have him come, I'd even be grateful for his input, in other respects, I fear his, "wow..." response. And not the "wow" of "wow-that-was-amazing-we-should-do-something-like-that", but the "wow....I'm-not-sure-what-to-say" kind of response.

Don't get me wrong. I LOVE my church and really enjoy our blended worship of contemporary and traditional worship. But he was stunned that the average age of my church council is 50 or so and the average age in worship is about 60. At 27, he's one of the oldest people at his church, and all of their leadership is 20-something. That's a pretty big difference. The two don't make sense together. And he's sure to notice the contrast.

It's definitely a reality check and a call to really do an honest evaluation of where we are and where we want to be, and how different the new might appear from what we are now. I've learned to compromise in a lot of ways and to draw people in slowly. And I think in that I've lost some of my edge for new and radical thinking. I've come alongside the norms and he is a good conversation partner for what the flip side might look like.

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