Saturday, May 21, 2011

Ministry

This weekend I'm riding solo as my hubby is out of town at one of his internet friend's wedding. (I know, it sounds weird. But if you know Greg - it's not).

It was a perfect day to go for a run, and since it's the weekend I decided to do a long run. Instead of running in my neighborhood I drove down to HEB so I could park and run the bike path.

I noticed there was quite a crowd; people were everywhere. Then I remembered the Woodlands Ironman Triathlon was today. I was afraid I wasn't going to be able to run the path, but it was open. They closed part of the actual street for the race.

So I did my 6-7 mile run (not that long considering I'm doing a marathon this year, but I'm working on it!) and when I came back I saw that the first few athletes were coming in to the bike dismount so even though I was pretty tired, I decided to watch for a few minutes.

There was a big crowd, probably at least a few hundred people by where I was. So I find a spot to watch, and I notice this lady in front of me is selling bottled water with homemade labels on it. I heard a couple people ask what she was selling it for, and she explained that it was her son's ministry called More Than Sports. It was a Christian organization, and they were supporting sex trafficking ministries. She didn't mention a specific sex trafficking ministry (International Justice Mission is the only one I know off the top of my head).

I watched her sell a couple. And I thought it was weird that her son wasn't with her since it was for his organization, but maybe he was working a different part of the crowd. I don't know. Anyways, she looked back at me a couple times. I had just gotten back from a run, and a bottle of water would have been nice. I had one in my car, but like I said I wanted to watch the race for a few minutes.

I think she was going to ask me if I wanted to buy one, but then she realized I probably didn't have money on me because I was just in a tank top and running shorts (I didn't). Then I think maybe she thought about just giving me one, but then decided not to because if other people saw me getting one for free, they would want one for free too.

I couldn't help thinking that she's doing all these great things for the Christian ministries she's involved in (or her son is) but she's not meeting a need that was literally right in front of her (or behind her).

I don't want to give the wrong impression. I wasn't dying. I had caught my breath by the time I got to the race checkpoint, and I wasn't on the ground or anything. But I was pretty much dripping sweat at that point (it's about 90 degrees, and I had just run almost 7 miles). And, my face was beet red. I know this because I looked at it in the mirror when I got back to my car.

If she had offered me one (for free) I don't know if I would've taken it. I probably would've said "no that's ok, I don't have any cash." Maybe if she had insisted I would have taken one.

Maybe it's dumb, but I think if it were me and I had extra waters whether I was selling them or had a cooler of them for me and friends, or whatever - if I saw someone just standing around who clearly looked like they needed a water, I think I would have offered.

I don't want to dismiss the importance of supporting formal ministries. Many of them do great things, and they need money to do it. I'm not out there fundraising for any of these ministries, and this woman was. But I also think it's important to not ignore the needs right in front of us either. The smallest thing can make someone's day, and that can be ministry right there.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Church

Greg and I have agreed to visit his sister's church that their family recently started attending. I've been reading up on it this morning, and I have decided that I don't want to be a part of any church that doesn't have women involved in leadership.

That doesn't mean a woman has to be head pastor or even on the pastoral team, but if you have several elders and women aren't included, then to me that means that you have a core group of leaders and decision makers that are exclusively men.

I've seen so many churches with structures like this. They almost always have a Women's Ministry leader who is supposed to represent all women in the church or something, and maybe they'll have a Children's Pastor (if the church is REALLY conservative they'll call her a "Children's Director" because of course they can't actually have the word "Pastor" or "Minister" after a woman's name on their program.)

This particular church I'm researching has two of seven women on staff, not bad right? But the titles are 1. Students/Girls and 2. Financial Administrator.

A couple things jump out at me here. I thought maybe the first title was actually code for "youth pastor" with a girls group thrown in, but they have a guy whose title is "Worship/Young Adults" so I assume he is the equivalent of a youth pastor and the "Students/Girls" person is in charge of the Children's Ministry and probably also leads a group for preteen girls or something like that.

There is no mention of a Women's Ministry in anyone's title, and I do hope that a church wouldn't refer to women as "girls" at least on their website (I don't think always inappropriate, but it depends on context; i.e. "Hey Greg, I'm going out with the girls" is different than "We need something for the girls to do in the church.")

The second thing is that I think it's funny that the Financial Administrator's bio is last considering that's probably the most important person in the church after the lead pastor. If a church is squandering money or not making money, or spending too much money, or hoarding too much money... that church is going to fail. Like it or not, churches need money to operate. That doesn't mean I think all churches want is money (in fact I believe most churches have good intentions about money) but any church who denies that money is important to grow their ministries is in denial.

I'm not saying I think modern churches today are sexist chauvinist pigs. But I think it's more subtle than that. I can't help but wonder why churches will let women count their money, minister to their kids, and have all kinds of women's ministries and retreats where ladies can speak to other ladies, but when it comes time to lead the church as a whole and discuss mission and direction, they don't have women on board making those types of decision. (And I don't mean the "But I'm sure they all ask for their wives' opinions" BS).

I mean that I want to see a church where a woman is on the regular speaking rotation. I want to see a church where women are amongst the elders. I know there are churches out there that have that, so maybe I just need to do a better job of seeking them out.

I'm still going to go visit. I might even like it. But I seriously doubt I will give any of my money or become a regular attender unless I see that their leadership actually does include women in a real way.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Amazing

Sometimes it amazes me that I work at an IT company.

Every time I think I'm going to get fired, someone will ask me to do something that they could easily figure out themselves through a quick Google search, and I realize that maybe I do have some job security after all.

Because if I'm gone...who else would explain to our technical support team how to dial an international number or use the fax machine?