Wendy and I have some big changes coming up. To understand where we are going you have to know where we have been.
A Phone Call From Mom
I put reforming an institutional church out of my mind and went back about the business of life. I had just started a new temp job at the AUA and was determined to do such a good job they would have to hire me on full time. (I came to find out that hiring freezes trump spectacular individual effort every time; but I believe that had I stayed long enough I would have been awarded a job once the hiring freeze was lifted.)
The only problem was the drive. One hour there. One hour back. Both ways in traffic. I hated it.
When the phone rang I was on the way home somewhere between I-70 and I-83.
After the appropriate pleasantries my mom said, “I was reading my Bible this morning I and I fell like God told me something.” I could tell she was anxious because her Texas accent was pronounced.
“What’s that mom?” I said into the phone with a smile. Mom rarely claims “God said” in conversation. She is an opinionated and determined woman who does not let her suggestions go unheard. Usually she doesn’t need to claim God’s will to get her point across.
“I was reading Nehemiah and praying and God told me that Valley needs a Nehemiah. Valley needs someone to come and rebuild that walls. So you need to apply for the job at Valley.”
“No!” my mind shot back. Valley is my family’s church: my Mom leads the nursery, my father-in-law is the head of the Sunday School, my mother-in-law teaches at the Wee School, my brother-in-law was the head trustee, my sister-in-law led the worship team for a long time and is now in helping steers AWANAS, and the list could go on…especially if I went to extended family because, like any good long standing Southern Baptist congregation, the whole church is intermarried. Wendy grew up there. We met there. I proposed there. We were married there. Over the years congregation members have asked us to apply for jobs there. Our answer has always been “no.” To messy. To weird. To…to…to personal. To Valley.
Valley has had its ups and downs. It is a typical small Southern Baptist church. They followed the trends. They were Purpose Driven. Then they were Simple. Wonderful people, loving people, great people in broken system.
Thankfully my mouth didn’t follow my mind. “Why do you say that mom?” I said slowly.
“Well, the church needs something. It has been through a lot. And what you and Wendy are doing seems to be really wonderful. I think you could come in and help.” I could hear the determination in her gaining strength. I knew I had to nip the conversation in the bud fast, but that she wasn’t going to take “no” for an answer.
“I’ll pray about it mom,” was all I said.
When I got home I shared the conversation with Wendy thinking she would find it as funny as I did.
“Valley, wow. Well, it’s something to think about,” she said.
That wasn’t cool. I decided to table the idea in hopes it would simply go away.