August Post #2

Just by posting today I’m surpassing my monthly totals for each June and July… Way. To. Go.

And so much for that “Time to Get Going Again” idea, huh? That’s ok, blogs aren’t about guilt trips. Besides, I don’t want to be a word-trader (see previous post). …well, maybe I concede there’s some sort of middle ground.

I’ve spent the past few weeks in the employment of a company called AppleOne. It’s a temp agency. I don’t think companies like this are below me, but I never imagined working for one. It’s been interesting. My first assignment was holding cue cards for a video that the local teachers’ union was making for all the new hires. Easy. Observed a little bit about union politics and whatnot in the discussions between shoots.

Random info: Listening to the Crowes, B.B. King, O.A.R, and SRV right now.

The next assignment was the Las Vegas location of Barney’s New York. My fellow males, think Macy’s and then go up the retail food chain about 15 levels. Fancy stuff. It’s inside the shoppes in the Palazzo/Venetian here on the Strip. I worked in the shipping/receiving area. Very reminiscent of a job I had at Macy’s in Monterey during high school. Open tons of boxes of incoming merchandise. Sort it. Hang/fold garments. Prep some for the floor, some for storage. And actually, I spent most of my time organizing the storage space there. SO in need of it! I think that the most pleasant surprise was a reminder that the salespeople were mere mortals like us in shipping/receiving. I guess I was assuming them to be as snotty as the stereotype of their clientele, those who have enough money to shop at Barney’s. How’s that for judging?

Tomorrow I’ll be starting with The Apollo Group, specifically the University of Phoenix. The branch here in Las Vegas, that is. Apparently the world’s largest private university. I could see that. My job will be that of an enrollment counselor. Following up and meeting with prospective students who have contacted the university to express interest. No cold calls, thank heavens! Those that know me wouldn’t say I’m right at home in a classic sales position. I’ll be on contract with the university (henceforth UPX) for the first three months, still employed by AppleOne. Then after that time, if both UPX and I think it’s a good fit, I’ll move over to being a permanent employee with them. Now I know that some people have plenty of dirt on UPX… I’ve read it. Pressure for overly aggressive tactics with prospective students. A special “boiler room” for underperforming enrollment reps. Numbers-based pay incentives. From what I can tell, a mix of these types of things happened at various UPX branches, and they got called out on it, and it’s not going on anymore. So I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt. I am absolutely in favor of adults getting serious about education, no matter where they’re at in life. Also, I could really stand to improve my “sales” toolchest. The simple skill of asking people to do something. My struggle here is part of what killed me with my work in Durango. Couldn’t just directly ask people to volunteer with the youth ministry stuff. Couldn’t sell involvement. And if I’m serious about getting back in to pastoral work, I’ll be better prepared for it by being a better salesman.

I just started the coals on the grill. And I must begin tending to myriad culinary preparations. BBQ chicken sandwiches tonight.

A Monk in the Blogosphere

What does this mean for bloggers, especially those of us who type so much about faith?

XXIX

A certain brother came, once, to Abbot Theodore of Pherme, and spent three days begging him to let him hear a word. The Abbot however did not answer him, and he went off sad. So a disciple said to Abbot Theodore: Father, why did you not speak to him? Now he has gone off sad! The elder replied: Believe me, I spoke no word to him because he is a trader in words, and seeks to glory in the words of another.

From The Wisdom of the Desert, Thomas Merton ed.

Time to get going again

Not a single post in June. Oops.

The rumor is true: I did resign from my youth ministry position in Durango. No burnt bridges… I still have a very supportive group of friends back in Colorado. There’s a lot to discuss about what precipitated that change, and it will surely come up in a future post. Actually, I think that’s part of the reason I’ve put off writing here for a while. Felt like I was in the middle of something so huge that I couldn’t blog and not write about all the resignation/moving to Vegas stuff.

Rumor #2: Indeed, I am living in Las Vegas. Close to both sets of Nina’s parents, and a much cheaper plane flight out of McCarran to go see my parents. (Durango was upwards of $400/person for roundtrip almost anywhere.) Also, Nina’s best friend from high school lives here, so it’s good to have a little bit of a preexisting support network. The focus for us being in Las Vegas is to get plenty of quality time together, enabling us to build the kind of foundation our marriage needs for being able to get back working in a church full-time.

Speaking of work, we’re searching. Part of the reason for choosing Vegas to relocate to is its relatively un-recessing economy. There are still plenty of jobs that need to be snapped up here. I’m on the waiting list for my background check to clear with Clark County Parks and Recreation, for a temporary summer position. It would just be something to bring in a little extra money over the summer, but the cool part about it is that it would get my foot in the door for one of the two new full-time positions they just got funding for.  My backup plan, by virtue of timing and desire, is an electrician apprenticeship. The construction trades in Las Vegas aren’t slowing down at all. I probably passed the aptitude test that I took a while back, and as soon as I confirm that I passed, I’ll be able to schedule an appointment for an interview to get into the program. However, I have good reason to believe that this appointment won’t be any sooner than September or October. And I will need to be working somewhere before that…

Over the past couple years, my work provided a lot of theological springboards and whatnot for blog fodder. Now, I’m a still hoping to read and write a lot, but it’ll be totally on my own time. No worries though, I should have a lot more time for myself with this new work/home-balance arrangement.

A board game is calling me. And I must answer.

More later.

“Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.” -GK

Missio Dei in the Local Context

My third and final paper for my UDTS online class, Theology of Mission and Evangelism. “Evaluate your own congregation, assessing the historical, cultural, and missiological paradigms that have shaped it. Given this congregation’s context, describe the missiological challenges to becoming a missional church and what you would do to help it to become one.” There were definitely areas in my paper where I discussed how my church could become more connected to the missio Dei. However, I couldn’t write at least a few of those paragraphs without looking at my own practices as well. So, as long as we’re willing to concede that our own status of journeying toward missional faith but not quite there yet as well, we can lovingly point out tough things about our churches. So, here it is:

Theological and academic exploration of the missio Dei is an important undertaking for any seminarian or pastor. However, if missio Dei remains as an airplane in a theological or intellectual holding pattern, whose wheels never touch the ground, the time studying it would have been better spent in prayer or meditation. It does God no justice to speak of his character as a missionary God without actually obeying the marching orders He gives to his people. Where this “rubber meets the road” is where the missional church exists. While the mission efforts of First Presbyterian Church of Durango embody a smattering of the principles of the missional church, this congregation also has ample opportunities to grow into a more robust engagement of the missio Dei. Continue reading

25+1 Words

At my birthday lunch today, a friend challenged me to boil down 25 years of wisdom into as many words. I pared as much as possible and didn’t quite make it (which is a good lesson in itself), so we’ll bill the excess word to the year that lies ahead.

When you can’t figure something out,

embrace your standing in a yellow wood,

thank God for the wood,

and travel your path as best you can.

Thanks, Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And being one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could.
To where it bent in the undergrowth,

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Helpful words for me. Thanks, Robert.

Missio Dei: Journey of the Elect

Missio Dei: Journey of the Elect

Russell Duren

IN581: Theology of Mission & Evangelism

University of Dubuque Theological Seminary

April 14, 2008

Missio Dei… a term that has been selfishly abused, a term that is robustly debated, a term that holds great hope. From Latin, missio Dei simply means “mission of God”. However, not so simple is Christianity’s responsibility – both as a corporate body and as individual believers – to discern how this term is to be lived out, to map out how to follow the mission of God. This paper shall strive to define the missio Dei as the journey embarked upon by the elect of the Triune God of Christianity, in which these believers seek to follow God’s movement for the purpose of its creation’s ultimate reconciliation to Him. Important factors in this definition are the elect, the Trinity, and the action of following. As each component plays a crucial role in the missio Dei, this paper will explain its thesis by giving special attention to these topics. Continue reading