Reflections of a Church Planting Intern: Week 3

I know these posts, thus far, have been a description of what I did with my week as intern at A2. Truth be told, this last week was kind of an off week. It’s not like I didn’t do anything because I did but it all centered around one task and it was something I was done with rather quickly. It was good for me though. Let me tell you about it.

Right around the time this internship started I had a conversation with my friend and pastor of York Evangelical-Free Church, Jon Wymer, about coming to bring the word to his congregation. This is actually a conversation that was a year or so in the making because he wanted me to be part of a bigger story he’s been telling among his congregation about the commonality of Jesus between all types of people. So, when he gave me the date of June 12 I gladly jumped at the opportunity. I was given no restrictions on what I could talk about. I don’t think I need to tell you how exciting this opportunity was.

But we’ll get to that.

Let’s talk about the rest of the week first.

The last few weeks I have been helping and watch the new church location morph into a bigger version of our last space almost totally built on the volunteer labor of the congregation. It is something altogether different to see people devoted to one central idea in several parts and to give it their best. There was painting, dry wall, sanding, mudding, cleaning, curtain hanging, and things I probably didn’t see because I was at work or elsewhere. I came in to check a few times when I was off to see amazing progress being made despite the small number of people who were doing the work. I guess one thing I would say I was confused and maybe even slightly discouraged was the lack of involvement. Even though we had a lot of people help there were nights where, I don’t know, maybe there could have been more assistance.

Maybe I expect too much. Hope too much. I wonder if that’s typical.

As far as the rest of my week was concerned, I was just left to prep my sermon for Sunday. Sounds like a boring week but it was actually pretty enlightening. I learned a lot about the way I communicate and how my thoughts channel themselves into coherent communication. I actually used portion of Hebrews I blogged about a while back but in reflecting and rereading I really felt I needed to shift the focus a little bit. I started applying the process that I learned worked best when I’m trying to write something. It’s an interesting process.

But I have to think first.

I think about all the things I know thus far, the things I need to know and then I do the work. I research, I read and I go back to my brain. I think the most important thing I learned about myself is that I can put everything together if I just go back to thinking about the flow of things and the content I’m studying throughout the day. I made a lot of connections and had a lot of ideas while I was driving to work or wherever else which was almost crucial in my being able to go from being a manuscript sermonizer to being able to channel the flow of my thought process into a workable and useable teaching. This is a point I really wanted to get to because I just find a manuscript to be restrictive and I don’t feel like I’m communicating. It’s just like anything else I do.

I feel much better if I can move.

Honestly, the rest of the week wasn’t all that interesting that I can recall. I spent some time in conversation with Ben about the book “And” which was really just an affirmation of things I already knew or already believed.

Let me tell you about my weekend.

Time brings on a lot of changes some bad some good. Saturday was meant to be a celebration of the completion of a very trying and scary time for my friend Jon and his family. I arrived in York around 12:30 to the Open House they were holding for their young daughter Sophia Hope. She was diagnosed with a brain tumor, had it removed, and endured chemotherapy. She completed her last round and so they held a party and it was amazing. She’s a little tank now. I remember when she was almost skin and bones during the whole process. I called her a human ATV because she would crawl anywhere. It was mind-bending to see both her and her sister older and more grown up. Sophia was mobile. Jon’s older daughter was actually talking in full sentences, almost conversational.

It’s amazing what time does and how it moves people.

York is in a rural community so it’s surrounded by towns and things that you just don’t see in a suburban community. One of the best parts of hanging out in the area is the little gems and places you don’t expect that almost seem out of place. I was taken to dinner by Jon and his family to a place called Chez Bubba’s Café. The town it was attached to was really small but this was a nice establishment with really good food. I think it was mostly family run. I watched a lot of the people, read a lot of the faces that told me that there were people who didn’t think I belonged there. The wait staff was nice and the food was amazing.

I saw something.

From my seat I could see directly to the server station and the kitchen. I watched our waitress walk back there and I noticed she was wiping tears out from under her eyes and her coworkers trying to console her. My immediate response was to think that God let me see that for a specific, like maybe I was supposed to interject or help somehow. But I asked myself the question, “What?” and realized that I had nothing to offer. And so I asked what the purpose of my seeing this was. And I realized that perhaps I need to learn is that sometimes I can’t fix.

In the driving around the area, I saw something that has been prevalent throughout the last few years. It’s so strange to associate the presence of God with something like this the way I do. But it showed up when I was going crazy in Memphis, it showed up when I was looking for calm when a relationship went bad. It has been a signal of calm in many storms. I think God tells me he’s there in a tangible way based on a story I heard a long time ago about a pastor who was a suicide risk. His congregation followed him to the place where they thought he was going to kill himself. When asked what he was doing there he told them “I just wanted to see something else that was carrying a heavy load”.

He was going down to the tracks to see the train.

I drove past a lot of trains. It’s one of those tangible things which I connect to the presences of God. So, I felt like I was in good hands when Sunday morning came.

But Saturday night we went to a relay for life that was being held in York. There was just so much going on that I don’t feel like i can go into detail. One thing that almost put me into tears was the lighting of luminaries for people who had cancer. They went all around the track they had laid out. There were hundreds of them. So many lives touched by something so terrible. But the people were all in high spirits and I even saw men and women walking around wearing bras over their shirts. They made it fun.
Then came Sunday. I don’t really think that I want to go into detail. I really had a good time meeting the people in York and thoroughly enjoyed talking about Hebrews 12. After I was done I felt more human than I had in a long time. I think it was a confidence that I’d not experienced in a long time. I was even able to maintain conversations with complete strangers which is really hard for me normally.

Well, I’m exhausted. That’s my story for this week. You can check out the podcast with my sermon here:

Which Mountain Have You Come To?

Music
Blaqk Audio – “CexCells”
City and Colour – “Little Hell”
P.O.S. – “Never Better”
La Dispute – “Somewhere at the Bottom of the River Between Vega and Altair”
La Dispute/Touché Amoré – “Searching For A Pulse/The Worth Of The World”
War of Ages – “Eternal”
The Moment – “Showdown at the Discotheque”
Fear Factory – “Obsolete”

Movies
Last Action Hero
Gone in 60 Seconds
Clerks

Podcasts
The Village Church: Matt Chandler – Colossians (Part 13) When Violence is OK

Bible
Hebrews 12:12-24
Exodus 19:16-12:21
Luke 10:25-29

Verse
But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
(Luke 10:29 ESV)

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