The First Sunday
The first Sunday in a church can be nerve-wracking, whether you are a first-time visitor or if you are the pastor. This Sunday was my first Sunday in active duty in the new church (though I'd had the advantage of "visiting" the last two weeks while Chad and Rudy preached).
Yes, I was nervous.
I was nervous about what to wear - having two very different services, each with widely differing expectations, can be hard to cover.
I was nervous about doing things "right" and not missing anything or making people mad - especially since doing things right isn't my goal - my goal is to usher people into the presence of Jesus Christ and to help them listen to the Holy Spirit; to minister to them and to help them to glorify God through the gathering. But I sure didn't want to mess things up and have junk get in the way.
It turns out that I didn't need to be nervous.
As for the "how to dress" issue, if you're a long-time reader of my blog (or if you've combed the archives), you'll know that I'm not a big fan of wearing a robe for services. My buddy "PD" made it his mission to "help me to dress like a Methodist" by presenting me with a robe and various stoles (of all colors and for all seasons and special days). My congregation in NK gave me a robe and a homemade stole last year to recognize my accomplishing the goal of becoming a fully-credentialed United Methodist elder. I wore a robe for every Sunday in Lent last season (partly as my own Lenten discipline). Still I don't generally wear one; not only because it's hot, but because it generally puts yet another barrier between me and the people I've been called (and moved) to serve, a people who accept me as the acceptable outsider because of my position as pastor.
That said, I decided that the robe was the right choice for the early service. Why? A lot of effort has been put into developing the second (less traditional) service and the second service is growing with lots of new people, especially young people. I get the feeling that since their service doesn't require as much work to make it run and because many of the younger folks have "abandoned ship" for the other service, some people in the early service feel like they're overlooked. For them, style of dress is very important; putting on your "Sunday best" is one way of honoring God.
As I saw it, I had three choices: 1) dress casually, as I planned to for the later service, and know that I'd offend people in the early service; 2) wear a shirt and tie for the early service and do a costume change between services; 3) dress casually, but wear a robe.
Put in these terms, the decision was easy, and I think people appreciated what I wore - in both services.
As for doing things "right"... well, I did them the Brian way. I think these services represented pretty well who I am and how I will be doing things.
Oh, and it helped matters greatly that Tara and I (mostly Tara) made buckeyes (peanut butter balls covered in chocolate, for you who aren't from Ohio) for the whole congregation in order to thank them for welcoming us, for all their prayers, and for all their work in helping us move in.