Volunteering Took Church Away From Me

Haha, I’m guessing a lot of church volunteers clicked on this post and were like, “AWW yeah, I know what’s up! Time to read the TRUTH!” haha. I tried to think of the most click-bait title I could come up with. Isn’t it annoying when people do that?! The title is only half true. Sort of. Not really. But kinda.

I haven’t been a church-goer in years.

Before I was 17 years old, socially I was shy, I keep to myself, and I was a follower. One day in youth group, a very good friend of mine and mentor told me that I was stronger than I thought. He said he saw a leader in me and that I would lead someday. I laughed him off. ME? A leader?? I’m a nervous wreck whenever I talk in front of people. Not to mention I’m awkward as hell. How could I possibly lead anyone?? But this truth that Mike spoke into me began to make a home. Years following that word I was transformed and I began to walk in this new part of my identity.

When I was 18, I found out that I loved youth ministry. It was where I thrived. Being a youth leader came as naturally to me as loving food. Very naturally. Relating with the kids, not being fake, being there for them when they needed help, listening to their problems, talking about God, bringing Truth into their circumstance. I loved it all. It was clear that I had a gift in this.

Naturally, whatever church I was a part of, Fountain of Life, Mars Hill, St. Pauls Auckland, etc. I joined the youth ministry team. It was normal for me. When I was a part of Fountain of Life, I had two jobs. Youth Leader/Pastor and AV team. Sometimes the youth group would go on a long event out of town. I would film a promo during the event, get back home, stay up all night, edit the footage, clean it up, export it, and then present it the next morning to church-goers. Tiring stuff. When I joined The Edge church, I also helped run slides in the morning because I had found another thing I was good at.

You can see the pattern. Pretty soon, volunteering took place of regularly attending church. If I was doing AV, I wasn’t really participating. This was true when I attended Fountain of Life Church and when I attended The Edge. Going to church as a kid and teenager was the last time that I can remember regularly going to church and participating as a congregant.

I realized something. I was missing out on a lot! I could catch up on sermons online sometimes, but I’d lose the community. I could attend a small group, but sometimes I’d be pretty tired from working all day. I’d have a team so that I wouldn’t be doing AV or youth ministry all the time, but when I would attend a service, it felt like I was a guest at times.

Volunteers are the heart AND the blood pumping the infant/kid’s ministries, tear-down/setup, sound desk, lights, creative team, printing sermon notes, and countless other ministries. Often, they can feel overworked, and removed from the weekly church experience.

When I said at the beginning that I haven’t been a church-goer in years, I meant that I haven’t stopped and just attended a church in a while. The first time I did this was actually at St. Pauls. They had an evening service, which meant I would help lead the morning youth service and then attend the evening service. It felt good. Getting direction from the pulpit and worshiping with friends in a church I attended. GROUNDBREAKING! haha.

I’m attending a church now in Colorado…actually attending. Will I start volunteering in the youth ministry? Possibly. Will I first take this as a time to just be. Absolutely.

Bottom Line is this: Keep an eye on your volunteers. They work tirelessly to keep things running. They do so because they want to feel belonging, because they want to help, because they’re good at it, or because they see a need and fill the void. Whatever their reasons, take care of them, and appreciate what they do.

To be clear, volunteering didn’t take church from me, haha. If anything, youth ministry taught me to be selfless, humble, and that instilling values into the next generation could be one of the greatest calls of a church. AV taught me that pastors will get you sermon notes at 7am Sunday morning, haha. LAWLZ. But seriously, it’s the worst.

King of the Forest

Courage! What makes a king out of a slave? Courage! What makes the flag on the mast to wave? Courage! What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist, or the dusky dusk? What makes the muskrat guard his musk? Courage! What makes the sphinx the seventh wonder? Courage! What makes the dawn come up like thunder? Courage! What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the “ape” in apricot? What have they got that I ain’t got?

Recently, I attended a weekend retreat for the internship I took through the Maxim Institute in Auckland New Zealand. Alumni Weekend. A time where interns, past and new get together and laugh about old stories, update each other on what the internship has done for them, eat, drink, and you know…be merry. Obviously it’s so much more than that, but I want to talk about something that greatly touched me over that weekend.

Continue reading “King of the Forest”

A Christmas Scene

Hey y’all.

I wrote a Christmas piece for the season. But I wrote it on behalf of another site I write for. So if you want to read it, check it out here: http://howwelostthemoon.com/2014/12/06/a-christmas-scene/

Enjoy, thanks!

Eric

It wasn’t an Easy Decision….

For those of you, my readers, who are wondering what I plan on doing NOW that I have graduated…I wrote this for you. It is a detailed description of the process I went through many years ago to be where I am today. Enjoy.

Hello everyone. Friends, family, readers, and other people I know but are somewhere in between.

Some of you know what this is about, and some of you are completely in the dark. 3 years ago, I had been wrestling with a decision that entered my brain as a mere idea. That Idea, was working full time at an agency, in New Zealand.

It began with Corbin telling me that NZ had the highest teen suicide rate. I was sympathetic, but it never resonated with me. Next, we began learning about depression in my classes of Social Work. Then one year about 2 years ago, I took a class and I was required to read a note from an Asian, young adult. It was a suicide note. She wrote it with regret that she wasn’t a man, and if she was a man, then people on the streets would notice her and treat her with respect. Light would shine on her and the birds would sing her name. Her life would have meaning. She told her parents in the note that she was sorry for not living up to their standards. She was sorry that she got an A- and a 3.9 GPA in college. She then jumped out her 3rd floor dorm window to her death. As soon as I was done reading the note, I was speechless. “such a waste. such a complete waste of life…potential…so unnecessary. With speed, emotions were sprinting through my mind and coursing through my veins. It was the first time I almost cried at something I had read.

That day something inside of me changed. That day, I knew that this was the population of people that I was to devote my time to and save. God placed inside of me a certain heart, a caring heart, a keen sense to listen, discern, and comfort. Gifts granted to me by my father and honed by me over the years I have been on this Earth. It is rare for a person to know exactly what they need to do in life, but this was my moment.

The next decision was not so easy. In my heart, I felt called to help the teenagers and adolescents of New Zealand. This meant leaving my family, friends, and everything that felt….comfortable. Not many can say that they have started as fresh as I was about to commit to. For two years I struggled. Praying…but only half heartedly. Looking, but not as diligently. One night, a friend, in whom I had not seen in 5 years, spoke into my life in a prophetic and real way. That night, I knew my life was about to change.

I brought it before my small group and a few others, and they affirmed what I was feeling in my heart. This wasn’t easy for them, because it meant me leaving. Still, they are disciplined and spoke wisely on my behalf.

Bottom line. When I receive my actual Masters in Social Work diploma (which is being mailed to me, and line up and agency overseas to work from…..I will be leaving. Yes. It will most likely be for quite some time. Yes. I have thought about it for a while. Yes it will be the hardest emotionally draining thing I’ve ever done. People, for me, this is still exciting. Stepping out in obedience is something I have to do. If it transpires that I should not be going to New Zealand, then I will seek him in prayer and take the next step. That’s all we can ever do. I am taking the step because I truly believe that this is what I should be doing, and that feeling is impossible to get over.

This was not an easy decision, but it’s one that you deserve to know about. I love you all, and I will never stop writing, as long as I have the means to.

IT’S OVER 1,000!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Today this blog surpassed 1,000 views for the month of March. To give you some perspective, the most views this site has ever gotten was 16 months ago, when the site received 457 views in November 2010. This site got that many views in one week (March 4-10). 1,000 views is nearly 1/4th of ALL the views this blog has gotten…ever. So when I saw that the month of March would receive over 1,000 views, I was kinda blown away. I could NOT have gotten this much traffic without you reading. Thank you for finding the inner workings of my mind enjoyable, fun, and for some reason, worth reading. I don’t do it for the views, but since I do it for the love of writing, audience is to be expected. I just wanted to let you all know how crazy you’ve been this month. My thanks deserves a regrettable late night picture from my webcam. It’s the least I could do.

Creepy Smile...
Creepy Smile...