Some of the questions that you asked in the Week 4 reflection report I actually answered in my classes and work this week.
First, when I mentioned that my opinion doesn’t matter in the context of ministry, I meant that as I am counseling a person, my opinion should not factor into the conversation unless that person asks. This week the discussion in Ethics was about homosexuality. One of the discussion questions was about a person who came in and said a male friend had mentioned that they should get married. This was apparently in the context of a relationship. The person requesting counseling had been celibate through high school and college but the case stated that he had reservations about how his friend was interpreting the Bible. My response was that in the context of counseling him, my opinions about homosexuality are not important because helping him is the most important thing. My saying that I do or do not agree with his choices would seem to me to be an ineffective counseling strategy. Given that his choices are not self-destructive (within the context of the case study, though in reality there are other factors) and not illegal, it would be my responsibility to help him find, through prayer, scripture study, and conversation, the decision he felt was best for him. I may not agree with the decision he comes to but if that is the case I have to then make sure he knows that I am accepting of his decision and that he’s still fully welcome as a child of God. This is one of those gray areas in ministry. How do we counsel people when their views are different from our own?
I also studied some on Job this week for Old Testament. One of the conclusions I came to from this book is something of a quote from a Clint Eastwood movie: “deserve’s got nothing to do with it.” So often I think folks tend to think that they “deserve” good things because they’re church going folks or that non-church folks “deserve” bad things, afflictions, and so forth. To me, Job shows that there is evil in the world that can affect anyone but that even outside of God’s influence, folks still make a great many of their own decisions.
Last Saturday during my weekly meeting with the missionaries, we worked with them to plan things out better. They tend to focus so much on lessons and baptisms that often times they fail to actually invite folks to come to church with us on the upcoming Sunday. I have noticed that through my work with them. To me it seems like getting the folks to church on Sunday would be a little more important than a follow-up appointment and another lesson but it often seems like getting folks to church is just way down the list of things to do. There was a person on the list last week who had said he would get baptized but after three lessons that have been spread over about 5 weeks he’s never come to church on Sunday…it interests me how they would consider that to be acceptable. Now, I firmly believe that folks can come in entirely ready to accept Christ as their savior, be baptized, and all the rest from day one, but after five weeks of meeting with someone I have to question whether they are really serious about this whole church thing. In his defense, he apparently does not have a way to church, not sure if he does not have a license, does not have a car, or both, but, again, it seems to me that if there was real commitment he could jump on a transit bus as he’s seemingly in good condition financially. I talked about this with others involved with the mission effort and they were in agreement with my assessment. After the Gathering Week we are hoping to work with them to put a better focus on getting folks to church over baptismal numbers.
Overall, this week has been difficult for me in class and work. On top of the regular forum postings for four classes, there have been papers due, and other time consuming works. With work, I had to work overnight on Tuesday, which is normally not a problem, however I did not find out that I had to work overnight until 6:15pm Tuesday afternoon when I was already 15 minutes “late” to a shift that no one told me I had to stand. So that took up much of my classwork time that night and most of my time in general on Wednesday since, as you can imagine, I was rather tired after being awake for nearly 24 hours. Life can do that to us, I suppose. I’ve also struggled mightily with the case-study for class which we talked about already. Either way, I’m looking forward to the Gathering Week activities and hope to get back together with everyone.