Monday, January 31, 2005

History part two...

When we left off, I had gotten the position at the small two-Elder church; as I mentioned, I worked there for four years. In my third year there, shortly after Marcie and I were married, I had a strange sense of restlessness. I could never explain it much beyond that, but I had this feeling that God was stirring my heart up to prepare me for a change-- and I was confident that this change would take me away from my (then) current ministry, to something else. Uncertain of what to do about it, I decided I would put my name and resume out there and see if God would make it clearer through the candidacy process where I was supposed to go.

As I look back now, I have to say that this was when I was truly introduced to the candidacy process. Everything before then was of no significance in terms of candidating experience.

My options were, admittedly, limited. I was fairly young-- 25 at the time-- without even a college degree, let alone a seminary degree. My experience was only in youth ministry. This was fine, however, because I planned to remain in youth ministry. I completed the PCA's Youth Ministry Data Form (which is sort of a specialized and shorter form of the Ministerial Data Form) and submitted it to the PCA's Christian Education office, which handles that sort of thing. I also called a friend of mine who had gone to work for the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (ARP) as their coordinator of Christian Education and Youth Ministry. Both offices were more than happy to circulate my information.

We began to hear from a few churches here and there, mostly basic inquiries for more information-- sometimes with an list of questions, sometimes with a form to fill out, sometimes just asking for some occasion to speak by phone. The first church we heard from was an ARP church in Florida. After an hour-long phone interview, they invited us to visit for a weekend. We went, and found that these visits were non-stop 48-hour interviews. We were picked up from the airport by the Sr. Pastor, who asked us questions for the entire 45-minute drive to where we were staying. Our hosts were an Elder and his wife, so we were welcomed by another 15 or 20 minutes of introductions and questions before being allowed to get to bed. Breakfast the next morning was the same, with questions left and right, before the Elder drove us to the church for an official interview with the search committee (that lasted nearly two hours). That was followed by lunch, after which the Associate Pastor and his wife took us to a Sunday School class picnic at the lake, which lasted most of the afternoon. After supper with the Assoc. Pastor, we got back to the Elder's house in time to get to bed at a reasonable hour. I had been asked to teach Sunday School the next morning, followed by attending worship, then lunch with two parents who drove us around and gave a tour of the town for the rest of the afternoon. We had just enough time to pack before returning to the church for the evening youth group meeting, which we were just observers of. Then off to the airport.

We heard from that church late the next week... it wasn't going to work out. More packets mailed out, more phone calls, phone interviews, e-mails, etc. produced some interest, little clarity, and a few serious queries for further information. I figured out that I knew what I wanted to do-- what I felt called to do-- more than most of the other guys out there; at least, I articulated it more completely. The result was that the documents I presented simultaneously drew more interested and did a lot of the “weeding” for me-- I got a fair amount of response simply because I had a lot to say, but most of the churches I sent information to were able to determine I wasn't for them strictly based on what I sent.

The next opportunity took me out to southern Texas in the middle of the week, about a month later. I'll give some details about that in the next history post.

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