2012 was the most challenging and gratifying in my professional career. I published my first book, left one call and accepted another, and relocated our family of six from Boston to Philadelphia. It was a great year to be blogging to document it all.
What I've learned about blogging is that one does not only write a blog to process the present moment, but also to observe how one's own perspective, style, and interests evolve over time.
I blog, in part, to discover what I'm interested in, what seems worth writing about, and to chip away at larger ideas and challenges in 1000 words or less. In short, in blogging, like all writing, I suppose, the thing you learn the most about is yourself.
So, in a new a new tradition (drum roll) here's the best of my blog, 2102 edition:
Here's the 2012 edition of the blog in raw numbers:
- 48 posts
- 36,134 visits, of which 25,670 were new
- from 25,727 unique visitors
- who viewed 57,583 pages on the blog
Top five posts:
Here are more highlights organized thematically:
Discerning whether to seek and accept a new call to ministry is an intense experience.
A myriad of ideas, dreams, and worries swirl around in your head and heart. It can be hard to know your own mind, motives, and true desires, let alone God’s.
In my own experience of deciding to leave one call and take another, these are the three central questions that helped focus my discernment—and the resources that helped me answer them. I hope they can be helpful to you in your own process of discernment.
Photo by dpstylesGetting to know a new ministry context can be a fun but time consuming process. Using the geolocation service Foursquare can help you get the most out of your time.
One of the first tasks a ministry leader has in a new call is to getting to know the local community. You drop in at local cafes, parks, restaurants, take in local events, drive around town, getting the lay of the land. You introduce yourself to ministry colleagues and local leaders, and reach out to local news outlets.
You want to understand the community in which your ministry is situated and your parishioners live - you want to let people know that you're here - and begin to demonstrate your consistent presence in the community.
The goal is to start building a network with everyone from the mayor to the local barrista - a network which becomes the groundwork for collaboration, supporting the community, evangelism, and rallying together in times of need.
Foursqure helps take the consistent and demonstrable presence you are building in face-to-face meetings and extend it into the digital meeting places of your community.
Twitter is a great way to learn more about and build relationships within your local ministry context. I am using it to get to know my new neighborhood - Ambler, Pennsylvania - a month before I even physically move there. Here's how I'm doing it - in five pretty easy steps:
1. Update Your Profile
Make sure it is clear in your Twitter profile that you are associated with the church. Include the church's twitter handle, if they have one. And be sure to update your location. You'd like for local people to follow you back on Twitter. Make sure it is obvious who you are and why you are following them - because you are also part of the local community.
Much of the conversation around social media and pastoral transition revolves around whether and how to stay connected to former parishioners on social media. I address this in another post. However, I also want to highlight some of the other, less discussed, ways technology plays a role in pastoral transition.
One important step in pastoral transition is digital disentanglement - handing over access, control, and information about the congregation’s website and social media platforms to those that remain.
This can be a bigger job that we expect. Often, we don't appreciate how digitally integrated we have become in our ministry settings until its time for us to leave.