"All words are symbols that represent unspeakable realities. Which is also why words are magical." (Donald Miller tweet)

Monday, July 24, 2017

a soapbox and a sports analogy

Every now and then, I pull out a soapbox, step up onto it, delicately clear my throat, and express what's on my mind. Ever so gently.

Through a bullhorn.

Last week was one of those times.

Actually, it was two of those times.

If you missed the two written expressions of what was on my mind, they are just below this one. The first was called, "chocolate, coffee & conversations". The second was called, "this is happening".

Shorter (less-nuanced) versions
were threaded on Twitter.
@PattiTheMiller

A lot of people responded. And boatloads of people read it. Those two posts may have been my two most-read posts in all my years of blogging, by far.

Miracle-of-Note: Not one person messaged me to say that women can't or shouldn't be Lead Pastors in #PAOC.

Not.
One.
#thatsafirst

Soooooo ... this is happening.

And I'll leave you with this.

For now. You never know.
I might have more to say later.

Local churches: The ball's in your court.
District offices don't choose your pastors.
National office doesn't choose your pastors.
You do.

You.
Do.

*lowers bullhorn, steps gently off soapbox, carries on with previously scheduled day*

#NeedforLeads #yeswomencanbepastors #yesLeadPastors #thisishappening #sharefreely

Friday, July 21, 2017

this is happening.

The other day I posted a whole #NeedforLeads thread on Twitter, based on my last blog post. And then ... well I guess I wasn't done. 😳 So, I'm just gonna keep going.

Again - this is #PAOC-specific.
No disrespect to those in other traditions
who have a different view.

What makes me sad: Anytime I post something like this, I hear from women who tried - they TRIED - and couldn't find a pastoring path. Frequently and explicitly BECAUSE they were women. Trust me. I know the stories. It happened. It still does. It was/is terribly harmful and wrong. Bottom line is, some of us maybe have some repenting to do.

Not you of course.
Someone else.
👀

What makes me glad: There are more and more people saying out loud that #yeswomencanbepastors #yesLeadPastors. And there are more and more female Lead Pastors clearing that old path again for others. I'm proud to be one of them, but I'm not the only one. Not by a long shot.

Somebody called me a "trailblazer" yesterday.
I prefer "weedwacker". 
Just tidying the existing path.
🍃 

And here's what I see: There are more and more people looking startled when I talk about this, saying, "What? This still happens in PAOC? This is a non-issue, for goodness' sake. Why is this still a thing?" And most importantly - "What can I do?"

I'll come back to that.
📌 

Here's what I suspect: More and more people in congregations are fine with the idea of a female Lead Pastor. They don't care. Some of them LOVE the idea. If they aren't sure, they just have a few honest theological questions, and they genuinely appreciate answers. 

Congregations who DO have female Leads
tend to celebrate it publicly, by the way.
#foodforthought 🤔

And here's what I think: This is happening. It's tipping. There are FAR more women in staff pastor positions than there used to be. They are joyfully qualified and competent worship leaders, preachers and visionaries. They care deeply about people and God. And their Leads will shout from the rooftops that they get the job done. These women are *this close* to being Leads. 

So this is happening. 

Soon.
Maybe now.
That's what I think.

So to answer the question, "What can I do?"

*deep breath*

Leads: Let your board and congregation know that PAOC doesn't have gender-specific credentials, and we have no debate about this. It's settled. Celebrate that we are a fellowship that DOES believe women can be pastors. Remind them what a huge, positive statement that is to our world. If/when you ever leave - leave your church fully comfortable with the idea that their next Lead could well be a female. 

Boards: Don't be afraid. 😊 I know there are voices out there that disagree, that worry that maybe it's wrong. But PAOC isn't one of those voices. We've taken a long time and worked this through, with wisdom and humility and accountability. We are convinced it's right. If you need some resources to help answer the questions, ask. And don't be afraid of your congregation. 

They might be just fine. 

Church Members: If your church has a Lead Pastor vacancy, let your Board know you'd be open to a female OR male Lead. Your Board carries a heavy responsibility and they don't want to get it wrong. Help them know you're ok with it. 

Only if your church has a vacancy, though.
Don't do that if you currently HAVE a Lead Pastor.
That's not kind. 😕

Leads - Talkin' To You Again: Initiate the conversation with your staff pastors, especially the female ones. If they aren't ready to be Leads, help them get there. Maybe push them a little. We have a #NeedforLeads. 

Female Staff Pastors: Um ... how do I say this ... ? Step up. It's time. Take the risk. Yes, if you tell your Lead you might be ready for more, the conversation might get awkward. Yes, you might question if you're ready to Lead - we all do. Step up anyway. Yes, you might get hurt, and people might say ridiculous things. Don't get bitter. Own your space, deal with your own issues, and keep moving. Learn to lead a board meeting, to create a budget, to navigate conflict, to think big-picture and long-term. Talk to your District Sup. If you're not ready, get ready. We have a #NeedforLeads. And the need is growing. This isn't a luxury. We need you.

Listen - this is happening. It's tipping. We're closing in on the tipping point. 

And hey - if in 10 years it turns out I was wrong, just come to Montreal and I'll treat you to a nice bowl of hot, melted chocolate at Juliette & Chocolat. ☕

It's the least I can do. 😎

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

coffee, chocolate and conversations

Last week, I went for coffee. Which is not, in itself, unusual but this coffee was accompanied by a conversation.

Actually, we were at Juliette & Chocolat, so my "coffee" was a hot chocolate.
Which is to say, it was literally a bowl of melted chocolate.
Try not to be distracted by that.
It's just what we do in Montreal.

That conversation has had me thinking for the last few days.

The conversation revolved around the widely acknowledged, nation-wide need for Lead/Senior Pastors in our slice of Christian faith - Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada (PAOC). Boomers are slowly retiring, and there are a lot of them. Simple demographics, right? 

The conversation also revolved around women who are pastors, usually in a staff position.

A lot of my conversations revolve around women who are pastors.

I mused between sips of melted chocolate (stay focused - don't get distracted), "Are there female staff pastors who are on track to becoming Lead Pastors?" And the response was, "Maybe a few. But they're waiting quietly. Or it hasn't occurred to them. Or they think it's arrogant to consider it. Or their own Leads don't want to lose them."

I got a little speech-y, as I sometimes do.

Possibly because I had reached the end of my bowl of chocolate.

And then the question came back across the table to me. "Well Patti, YOU have two female staff pastors, right? Could they be Leads?"

I gasped. "I just GOT them, and they are AMAZING! Don't take them away!" 

And my friend smiled and said, "That's what all the Leads say."

#Boom #OhComeOn #TotallyGotMe #NeedForLeads

So.... two days ago, I told those two amazing women (both of whom are quite happy as part of our team) that I would be thrilled if they stayed forever, but the truth is, there's a need out there, and the truth is, they each absolutely have the potential to be Lead Pastors at some point. And I told them that if they ever wanted to explore that, they were welcome to talk to me about it, or talk to our District leaders, start working out what the path might look like. 

And then I tweeted this:

"Hey #PAOC female staff pastors:
The need for Lead Pastors is growing in Canada.
There's no reason you can't be one of them."

The response was ... significant. 

So I'd like to put a couple more thoughts out there.

One for other Leads - yep - #LookinAtYou.

"Hey #PAOC Lead Pastors:
The need for Leads is growing in Canada.
Female Leads are still a minority, so the path for your female staff pastors can be unclear.
They need you to show the way & encourage them to consider it."


That one's #TooLongToTweet. This one fits. 

"Hey #PAOC Lead Pastors:
Female Leads are a minority, so the path for your female staff pastors can be unclear.
Give them some pointers."


Here's another, for Boards that just aren't sure if it's ok... #WeveNeverDoneThatBefore

"Hey #PAOC Boards:
Our fellowship fully supports women as Lead Pastors. It's NOT controversial for us.
There are churches across Canada being pastored by women.
There's no reason yours can't be one of them."

I'll have to shorten that one to 140 characters somehow. 

And back to those female staff pastors I was talking to in the first place: #WhatDoIDo

"Hey #PAOC female staff pastors:
Have the conversation with your Lead, with your District leaders.
It's not presumptuous.
It's normal."

Coffee. Chocolate. Conversations.

They lead to #GoodThings.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

testing, 1 ... 2 ...

Hey ... :)

So it's been awhile.

But life is so good. I'm SO very grateful, truly.

We moved into a beautiful condo, perhaps the loveliest place we've ever lived. I still miss our giant back yard, with its gardens and hammock and private, ramble-y, slightly overgrown feel. I miss our north-end neighbours. But ... that's ok. We have scads of sunshine in this new place, and we're in a city that is filled with ramble-y adventures and #MontrealMoments, so I'm not complaining.

Not even a little bit.

I've discovered dumplings, and last week had them IN Chinatown. Before moving to this city, I didn't know dumplings were a thing, as in "let's go for dumplings". Dear merciful heavens above, I have been MISSING OUT. It's possible I have a mild dumpling addiction now.

I'm ok with that.

And spring is coming.

My favourite season.

Plans are being made to head to Ukraine soon, so I'm all a-twitter about that.

#landilove

And The Boy and I managed to assemble a chest of drawers this weekend from Ikea, without significantly damaging our marriage.

Impressive, right?

Anyway. I've missed you. Hope you're well! 😀


Thursday, November 10, 2016

This.

So.


The US election is over. As a Canadian (we're all about peace and good government over here), I find the whole US campaign process to be ... just gross. Sensationalized, untrustworthy, small-minded, and way too long.


But I'm not an American, so (rightfully), my opinion carries little or no weight. 


However, as a follower of Jesus, ugh, I just weep, I actually cried yesterday over the ugliness of fellow Christians (on both sides, for the record). The deep division within the Church, which is supposed to be known by the "one-another love" within.


And I cried because we get awfully worked up about votes and policies (which I care about too, for the record). But I'm not sure we live with the same worked-up-ness in our daily lives, not like Jesus said to, with humility, and a heart to serve, and self-sacrifice, and generosity. I think that matters more than a vote (and I DO vote, for the record).


So this morning, a friend of a friend posted this, and I'm sharing it with you. She's an American in Ukraine. She and her family live there intentionally to help at-risk kids, people in poverty, displaced people. They do that in their everyday lives, with ferocity and passion.


"So here's the thing about the people who are followers of Christ.  Some of us are celebrating. Some of us are devastated.  But our job has not changed.  We are supposed to be the defenders of the weak and fatherless.  We are supposed to be the champions of the alien, the widow, the outsiders, the oppressed, the vulnerable.  We are supposed to be the first-responders when hate or tragedy attacks.  So no matter who is going to be living on Pennsylvania Avenue, no matter what changes in our policies or laws or government, we are still supposed to be the ones to shine light, to exemplify love, to show hope.  And if anyone anywhere goes after the weak or oppressed or alien or orphan, they'll have to get through us first. If we claim to follow Christ, this is our job.  The election is over, let's get back to work."


Amen.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

journals

This morning, I brought another journal to an end.

This one was giant-sized and ornate, not my usual choice. But at the time, it felt like a significant moment was about to happen, and although I had absolutely no idea what that might look like, I didn't want to miss it.


I didn't know it then, but by the time I closed it, everything would change.

Everything.

It's possibly been
the most intense period of life
we've ever experienced.

Just as an example, one tiny little piece - as of last weekend, our church had served over 10,000 PokémonGo players who landed on our doorstep, about three weeks ago. Four weeks ago, I didn't even know what PokémonGo was!

And there are countless other examples of change. 

From owning a small home with a giant, ramshackle, peaceful backyard -- to renting an apartment, right in the city. From driving everywhere to walking everywhere. From an all-English community to a multi-lingual one, particularly French. From a community whose history, people and ethos I knew to one in which I knew no one and almost nothing. 

And of course -- Andie. 


She's a massive, joyous, delightful, messy change.

But then again - I'm still me. Spike is still Spike (although his hair has changed).

And God is still God. 

I'm thankful for social media and texting and FaceTime that keep me connected with friends, old and new. I'm thankful for years of foundation in my faith, for Scripture I read today that reminded me, "If you love your neighbour, you will fulfill the requirements of God's law". And, "The Lord is my shepherd. I have all that I need."

So today, I've begun a new journal, and it's the first one that I've started here, in ma nouvelle ville. Strangely, that makes me feel at home. It's more of my usual style, peaceful, simple. 

And maybe I'm finally back to blogging again. We shall see. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

pastor ponderings

As part of my own faith, I have a (not perfect) habit of reading Scripture each day. Sometimes I read a very short amount, allowing time for that one little bit to sink in. Sometimes I read lots at a time. Right now, I'm in the "lots at a time" phase, which means reading several selected segments from different parts of the Bible. 

Which led to this juxtaposition today, demonstrating the social contract or expectation between a king and his people in ancient Israel.

First - what would help him stay on track. I don't remember ever noticing this before. Essentially, he was supposed to hand-copy Scripture, in the presence of religious leaders (probably to make sure he copied accurately), and then read some of it every day. It would keep him from becoming ... um ... a tyrannical idiot. It would keep his head and heart in the right space, with humility as key.

“When he sits on the throne as king, he must copy for himself this body of instruction on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests. He must always keep that copy with him and read it daily as long as he lives. That way he will learn to fear the LORD his God by obeying all the terms of these instructions and decrees. This regular reading will prevent him from becoming proud and acting as if he is above his fellow citizens. It will also prevent him from turning away from these commands in the smallest way.”
Deuteronomy 17:18-20 NLT

Second - the people prayed for him - that what mattered to God - people, especially vulnerable people - would matter to him.

“Give your love of justice to the king, O God, and righteousness to the king’s son. Help him judge your people in the right way; let the poor always be treated fairly.

Help him to defend the poor, to rescue the children of the needy, and to crush their oppressors.

He will rescue the poor when they cry to him; he will help the oppressed, who have no one to defend them. He feels pity for the weak and the needy, and he will rescue them. He will redeem them from oppression and violence, for their lives are precious to him.”
Psalms 72:1-2, 4, 12-14 NLT

Probably can't apply this completely to national leaders today, as our political system is not tied to a national faith system. (Although I do pray for my nation's leaders.)

But, it's not a bad approach for expectations between pastors and their congregations, i.e. leaders leading with humility and a heart for the most vulnerable (instead of always demanding respect and power from the people they lead) ... and people praying for their leaders, supporting them as they attempt to lead with a heart for God, and for the most vulnerable (instead of demanding that their wants be considered above anyone else's).

Interesting thought.