Friday, July 25, 2014

because you asked...

Wow. That's all I can say about the comment section on my last post, Party in SOCal and how old are you, anyway ?

If you haven't taken part in my informal demographics survey on that post, please do. I LOVED LOVED LOVED reading each and every comment ...where you come from, what your background is, why you read, who you are, etc. !

Sometimes starting a blogpost is like walking up to a microphone and tapping it several times ..."Is this thing on??" I want to nervously ask. I do love blogging, but sometimes when there isn't a whole lot of feedback, I wonder if I should just keep my thoughts to myself ;) Posts like the one the other day sort of fuel me on, because I realize that most of you are just like me - you read often, but just don't comment all the time. I totally get that. I am perhaps the world's worst comment leaver. (Insert guilty sigh.)

So a humongous THANK YOU to all of you who left comments, and I so appreciate you taking the time to do so. I think one of my favorites was A Portland Granny. The fact that I have an octogenarian reading here thrills my soul. And will cause me to use spellcheck more frequently.

Moving on ... today's post is dedicated to all the pioneer pastor's wives who read my blog.

I have had a lot of feedback both here and on Instagram from women who would like to hear more about our pastoring experience here in Corvallis. I admit that I have shied away from this subject in the past... I (think) members of our congregation read here, and when I blog, I am typically sarcastic. And maybe at times a little snarky. It's hard to separate my writing style from my real-life experiences.

Back when I started A Perfect Lily, my writing was perhaps a little more reflective and serious. But as I worked my way through things regarding Down syndrome, I slowly defaulted to my ... snarky ... self.

So again - I've hesitated to write about the ministry, because I have a tendency to insert sarcasm into my experiences. And I don't think discussing things church-related is the place to do that.

Being in the ministry is nothing short of an honor. While we experience things that are at times soul-stretching and character building and - let's face it- flat out exhausting ... we know that all things work together for the good.

I've spent 25 plus years in the ministry, and it took me a long time to get to the place where I am today. I spent many years wrestling through "what my role" should be, but today I can humbly and honestly say that I am both confident and comfortable with that role.

I'm not a put-together, polished pastor's wife. I'm a wife to Sam first, a mom to my kids second, and after that I am there to serve my church. Maybe there are women out there who see it as their role to disciple women or host Bible studies or speak at events or  (you fill in the blank) . I'm not going there. I have enough on my plate getting dinner on the table and homeschooling my kids and making sure we all get to church on time with clean underwear. My primary job as a pastor's wife is to release my husband to the ministry - not be dragged kicking and screaming along the way. If I can provide a happy atmosphere for him to come home to, and if I can maintain a cheerful and willing attitude when he has to be gone frequently for all things ministry related, then I've done my job.

Anything else is extra.

So having said ALL that, here is my post dedicated to those who have wondered about our church pioneering experience.

Warning : if you don't like reading long posts with lots of words and no pictures, this one aint for you.  I don't generally walk around church snapping pictures of people, and I don't have time to go back through my old hard drive searching for any random ones I've taken over the years. 

But just in case you came here hoping for a cute picture or two, here are some completely off-topic pictures just for you.

guess who got into big sissy's make up ??

blurry picture taken on my cell phone of  my tormented eleventh child

There ya go.

And now, for those who asked... here is My Big Fat Pioneering a Church Post.

Otherwise known as.... Because You Asked.


My husband and I started our church here in Corvallis over 16 years ago. We were sent out of our mother church in McMinnville, Oregon ...which sounds like they kicked us out, but if you are a part of our fellowship of churches, you know it actually means that they "ordained" us to pioneer a new church here. And when I say we started our church, I mean from the ground up. We came here to win souls to Jesus - not to try to get people from other churches to come to our church. I mean, if people do come from other churches, we aren't going to run them off... but our goal in starting a church was to reach unchurched people with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Also, when I say "we" started the church, what I actually mean is my husband started the church, and I came along for the ride :) Okay, I did a little bit more. I played piano, and for two years I did nursery all by my lonesome. service.

I also hosted the 4 billion food fellowships we had at our house, annnnnnd put up with a lot of ...stuff. Meaning we had some very strange people coming to our church - and consequently house - for quite awhile. And I say that in the most lovingest of terms. (Is lovingest a word ? It is now. ) I can blog about them now, because it's been 16 years, and I don't think any of them read my blog ? If they do, they know I loved them. They know, because I fed them more dinners and desserts than I can remember . I babysat their children, sometimes did their laundry (?!), helped pick lice out of their hair (for reals), listened as they cried on my shoulder, drove them places when they didn't have a car, listened as my husband took their midnight phone calls for counseling, attended the births of their children, brought them meals afterwards, stood by their sides as they buried babies or loved ones, and rejoiced with them when they found true joy in Jesus.

I say all of that not to pat myself on the back, but to say that although I have not stood behind the pulpit, God was able to help me to do what I am called to do - love people. And love them in whatever state they come to us in.

Someone once described our fellowship of churches like this : we are a hospital. We are not a fellowship of cathedrals, with beautiful stained glass windows and tall steeples and padded pews. (Although we did break down and buy some nice padded chairs a few years ago and WHEW. What a difference those can make for pregnant ladies. Just sayin.) We are not the place to come if you have it all together and are looking for a church that has it all together too. We are not the place to come if you are looking for slick programs and real musicians and highly engineered children's ministries and  smooth-running anything. I mean, if you go to a church where all that is happening, cool beans.

But that aint us.

We are a hospital.

We provide an atmosphere where the Great Physician can work miracles for people.

Our church is a place where the lost and broken can come and find healing in Jesus.

In our church we have ex-drug users, ex-convicts and ex-alcoholics (yes, EX ! You don't have to remain an alcoholic for the rest of your life, contrary to AA. You can be set FREE.) We have ex-thieves and ex-liars, and we even have little ex-goodie-two-shoes like me... who might not have done a whole lot "on the outside", but who were sinners through and through nonetheless.

Our church is not a cathedral, our church is a hospital for the broken and the broken hearted.

And as such, we have seen it all. The whole messy, sin-sick, problem-ridden pile of humanity.

And we love it.

We started the church by meeting in the library of our kids' school (they used to go to public school, but that is a whole other topic.) I played piano, Jason and Josiah took turns being ushers and running the overheads for songs, and Mackenzie helped me in the nursery. Eventually all three of our older kids learned instruments and began playing in our worship service - but in the beginning it was just me clunking along, while my husband led songs. Tyler was a year and a half when we came to Corvallis, and Jonathan had just been born. Caleb came along just under two years after we came here... I was nine months pregnant and still doing nursery every service, and my husband asked for volunteers for nursery so that I could get a month long break. ( I still remember how refreshing it felt to come to church  after that and hear a sermon preached - even if it was "just" my husband preaching.  )

We met on Wednesday nights in our home for Bible study for the first year, and every Sunday night we had everyone over for a potluck. And I am not kidding when I say that there was probably a lot more pot at those fellowships than luck for awhile. We had teenagers coming over many many MANY months, and I am quite sure I smelled something other than patchouli oil on their clothes when I hugged them. I remember one Sunday night, when Mackenzie came to me whispering that two of the teens were "sitting really close" on a bean bag chair in our garage/playroom. Sam had to start asking the teens to please refrain from Public Displays of Affection in front of our small children  (it was getting a little more heated out there than hand holding) and we also had to tell more than a few people that the church parking lot was not the place to run drug deals.

You think I'm kidding.

Things looked pretty crazy during those first few years of pioneering the church here in Corvallis.


And those two little words changed the entire dynamic of what our church is today.

Because GOD took that little rag-tag band of broken hearted, messed up, sometimes strange, sometimes struggling, always-needy sinners - and HE transformed them into who they are today.

Because although we are all still sinners - saved by grace - today we have a group of lovely families, and a few equally lovely single people, who are kind, gracious, law-abiding citizens. (Well, pretty much, unless you count the Pastor, who still goes to traffic school occasionally for forgetting to wear his seatbelt).

Today we have nursery workers and people who sing and play instruments on the platform and women who help in the kitchen and soldiers for Jesus who go on outreach teams to other churches in our fellowship and people who clean the church and folks who do special music and couples who invest time and love and energy into young hurting and needy teenagers and old people alike . We have a church that is still imperfect, but is oh, so gloriously transformed, and continues to be transformed, into the image of Jesus Christ.

We are a hospital.

We eventually moved into our own church building - we've changed locations a few times, and have finally settled into a building in a fitness center complex (hey, we help people get spiritually fit;)).

We may be small in number, but the people who attend our church have some of the biggest hearts on the planet.

I'm still playing piano, and my kids (three of them all grown up now) still play instruments during our worship service. My oldest two sons and their wives run the children's church, and my oldest daughter now runs the nursery.

We are here to serve people, reach them with the good news that Jesus came to save them from sin, and help them grow and mature in the things of God.

We are still a hospital .

So there you have it. Our church is no great shakes in the eyes of the world, perhaps. Sam works a full time job to support our family, and thankfully, the church nows supports itself financially. We hope one day that our church will grow to the size that he could quit his job and become a full-time pastor... preaching three sermons a week and doing all that is required to run a church is a full-time job in and of itself... but we are privileged to labor here and give ourselves to the ministry of Jesus.

I think Paul says it best : I will gladly spend and be spent for souls. 2 Corinthians 12:15

Its is both a privilege and an honor to pioneer a church, and I wouldn't trade our experience for all the riches in the world.


P.S. If you have thoughts or questions about life in the ministry, I would love to read them in the comment section !


Unknown said...

(My whole comment just erased, so I hope I've remembered most of it!)

Our church is also a from-the-ground-up, come as you are hospital for unchurched people. It is run by my former youth pastor, and it is one of the most accepting places I've been.
I don't believe you need a fancy building, stained glass windows, and a huge pulpit to worship. We meet in a movie theatre on Sundays before they open to the public...and the group is close-knit and lovely. It is a come as you are type of place and that's how I think it should be. Too many churches I have been to come across as cliquey and cliched, and so many are turned off (as I was) from attending and trying to break through that barrier.

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for this. Patti, I'm not a pastors wife and I don't know if I ever will be, but I'm a pastors daughter, and I'm struggling with a lot of emotions lately. I've never had a pastors wife because I just called her mom. And now being a wife of someone that's really involved in ministry I feel intense pressure to be a lot of different things. I just want to be a good wife and a good mom, like my mom was and is to us and my dad. It's hard to find the balance right now. Thank you for putting your story out there. It gave me a lot to think about. I love people and want to reach them also for Jesus, sometimes it's overwhelming and I can't imagine adding eleven kids to the mix. You have all my respect!

Unknown said...

Love this post!

It is so awesome to get hear more of your story! I get not writing about church stuff. My blog is a scrapbook of our lives so I include SOME church events outreach and fellowships, the split that took 80% of our people, not so much:) We have been in a store front church for 13 years (9 with my husband pastoring) and just moved buildings into an old fashioned church building. We are also a hospital and have some pretty funny stores to tell;) I Love how you focus on keeping your home running and family happy rather than lots of ministries. I have struggled with guilt about not doing enough but I know I am doing what is important by caring for my family. Oh yes but I have done childrens church pretty much by myself for most of our pioneering experience;) Our husbands are amazing! MY husband also works a full time job (running his own plumbing business) and manages to do all the church activities with a good attitude. There are times (like after revival) that I just have to stay in my PJs and rest. It seems like working Pastors never get a day off...but then again God is so good, he always finds a way to hook us up with rest and rejuvenation!

Have you ever done a Questions and Answers post? My SIL did one on her blog and it was fun to read. I could come up with a few dozen questions about pioneering, just kidding;) Thanks for letting us have a look at your life as pastors wife it put a smile on my face and reminded me I am not alone.

MamaV said...

As someone whose husband is considering the ministry, being a pastor's wife is very daunting! Right now we are the college group leaders at our church, and the best thing to remember is that nothing belongs to me anyway; I live in God's house and cook God's food and sit on God's furniture, and use God's time, so if a whole troop of people come in and eat all the food and spill all over the furniture and stay until midnight it isn't my problem!

Kathy McElhaney said...

Love this post, Patti! My heroes in life have always been Missionaries. Church planters in the good old USA are missionaries!

We should always be a hospital since Jesus came for the sick. Our church recently reached a neighborhood a couple of cities over (we are in the greater Los Angeles area, so it all kinda runs together.) Anyway, we had never been there, the first time I went I was told, "it's a scary neighborhood," but we fell in love with hurting children that love us back. For 10 weeks we averaged over 100 visitors each Sunday. My husband preached a message "Corn nuts and cheerios in the House of God" to remind us that souls are messy. We all come from messy lives and our church is messy when everyone goes home, BUT IT IS WORTH IT!

Amy P. said...

My Dad pioneered or took pastorial of a few churches growing up. It was some of the best memories of my childhood. I have the craziest church stories. Now I get excited when "different" people come in our church services. Everyone else gets nervous and I'm all like "yay". I've about seen it all!!!! I seen what my Mom went through and I have no desire to pioneer or help my husband pastor a church. If The Lord ever leads us that way I will have to have divine intervention. Ha ha Right now I am perfectly fine being a laymember.

Race Bannon said...

So you're Mormons, right? With all the kids and such?

I like Mega Churches. Mostly because of the name, but if you don't go, they don't notice...

*I hope I didn't offend any LDS, or Mega Churchers….just tryin' to get a laugh.

Amy said...

Love this post, you really have a gift for writing!

k8kranz said...

I enjoyed reading more about your journey with your church. In all honesty, the fact that you and your husband 'built' a church, has always fascinated me.

I do have one question for you, one that I have always wanted to ask but was never brave enough to… in your "about me" section you mention that you are a 'born again Christian since 1985.' I've heard that term before, but what does that mean to you? What is YOUR 'born again' story?? I would love to know if you feel comfortable sharing this story with us/me.

Also, one sentence in this post hit home for me.

"My primary job as a (pastor's) wife is to release my husband to the (ministry) - not be dragged kicking and screaming along the way. If I can provide a happy atmosphere for him to come home to, and if I can maintain a cheerful and willing attitude when he has to be gone frequently for all things (ministry) related, then I've done my job."

This is my life as a police wife. Insert "police" in those spaces and this is me. Sometimes the police wife life is difficult and lonely…. but knowing that there are other wives out there, who also live their life similar to me, is helpful :)

Thanks again sweet Patti!

Kate Kranz

MamaV said...

Well, if you're not Mormon, you HAVE to be catholic, right?

Patti said...

Number two and three questions we get asked all the time. Right after "are you going to have any more kids?" And right before "so do you believe in birth control?" Which we do, we just don't practice it much. Apparently.

Patti said...

I would love to answer this in a blogpost - thank you for asking ! My brother was a police officer and so was my dad .. I have heard the same thing about being an officer's wife !

MamaV said...

I am the oldest of 8... Not all the being an elder in a Presbyterian church and coffee drinking in the world could convince my dad's secretary that he was not Mormon, lol :-)

cara said...

I really think that this post may just set a few pastors' wives free from any guilt they have for putting their husbands and families first as they should. I have seven kids and homeschool as you know. It is hard for me to find a lot of time to do too much more, so I just cannot imagine being a pastor's wife too. I love how you are comfortable and confident with who you are in this role now.

I cannot believe I still haven't visited your church!!! I always have wanted to; we just don't make the drive enough. I have no doubt that the love of Christ is evident and alive in that building because of the people there. :) It reminds me a lot of our church here.

The picture of the 11th child being tortured is priceless. I can see this at a wedding or somewhere, ha. xoxo

Michelle Z said...

Personally, I like snark ;)

<3 you, dear friend! I miss you! It's been many, many, MANY moons!