Y’all remember last week I posted about my implementation of Jason Elkins’ 100 cups networking strategy?
Here’s Cup #2! We didn’t actually share a cup of coffee together but the caliber of conversation far surpassed even the best cup of joe.
I’m 40. I was raised in church. Both of my parents were/are ordained ministers. We were at church every time the doors were unlocked growing up it seemed. Active in the children’s choir with my mother directing, arriving early so my dad could teach Sunday School, playing in the hand bell choir, attending Girls in Action (GA) camp, and traveling countless places with multiple youth groups. Church raised us in a lot of ways.
Then it occurred to me, I’m 40, and I’ve never sat down to talk, one on one, with my pastor. None of them. Ever. I accepted Christ at a young age and was baptized at FBC Goodlettsville, but I can’t even tell you who the pastor was; it’s written in a bible I have somewhere. I adored our pastor at Bluegrass Baptist when I was in middle school but wasn’t quite of the age to want to talk to the preacher about my tween years and all of its woes. By high school, I was there for the socializing and then in my twenties, I somewhat checked out of organized religion even though my faith stayed strong.
I’ve had a lot weighing on me in regard to the state of our country, the rise in hate crimes, mass shootings, women and LGBTQ rights, etc, and I was somewhat feeling helpless and hopeless and thought it was time I made the time to talk to one of my most trusted faith leaders.
I started attending McKendree Memorial United Methodist Church just a few weeks before Pastor Steve VanHooser arrived. My mother told me of his assignment (she’s a Methodist minister). She knew I’d enjoy attending his church. Boy, was she right.
MMUMC has been warm and welcoming beyond belief. From my Sunday school class to the children’s ministry, I’ve never felt so loved and welcomed in a church.
A big part of that feeling of warmth comes from Steve and his continual message of love and inclusivity. The time I spent with him last week restored my faith in humanity and filled me with hope.
Steve grew up in the small town of Gainesboro, TN where I attend camp with my ARE Family each summer. He never imagined he’d be in the ministry and he told me a story of the first time he saw a minister in true light, one who accidentally cussed in front of him as an adolescent. At that time, he realized we are all human, and that recognizing our own gifts as well as the gifts of others is God’s will and we are meant to share them and we are all meant to be loved unconditionally.
Steve assured me we don’t have to understand all that’s going on and that God always has a plan. We have to continually BE the church and the hands of Jesus. (Which was comforting to me because I haven’t actually been AT church too much the past few months.)
Sometimes church just becomes something we do, part of going through the motions of life. This church is different. Steve is different. He’s motivating us to use our gifts and he’s doing that by leading by example, by being the hands of Jesus, by continuously preaching a message of love and reassuring us that love always wins.
Thank you, Steve, for being one of my 100 cups and for sharing my burden of fear and hopelessness. Sometimes we just need someone to listen. Sometimes we just need to know we aren’t alone in our fears. Thank you for being that someone.
Now, I swear we’ll be back to church soon and I’ll hear your message during the allotted 10:30 service time! 😉