Being with people gives me energy. That makes me an extrovert. If I’m in the office too long, or haven’t talked to people in a while – I have to get up and move. Alone at the top of a mountain doesn’t do it for me. Put me in front of a stage, listening to a great band, in a full theatre, or in a busy coffee shop, and I’m happy. I’m at home in a crowd. It’s been a life-giving (busy) time here in Las Vegas. I’vebeen meeting with members and friends of the church, new visitors, musicians, AA groups, our seniors at the meal program, colleagues in ministry, and neighbors. I even got to visit the DMV!
Part of my duties covered in our renewed redevelopment covenant include spending half of my time outside the office. When I’m running around the city, I’m telling stories and listening too, sharing about what’s going on at church, and inviting others to participate in an event, in worship, in recovery groups, or in Bible study. Our Men’s Friday Bible study is growing! We have a group of 6-8 who gather each Friday morning at 7:30. We talk about scripture, life, marriage, parenting, politics, faith, family, and culture. January will mark 4 years of this small group.
Among others, I’ve visited with Dennis, Simuel, Bob & Betty, Ron, Steven, Rick, Taylor, Holly from New Song, Pastor Greg Lunsford from Hills Church, and more. These visits are a chance to get to know people, respond to needs, and share the gospel. The needs in our community are great, and in my role as board member for Lutheran Social Services of Nevada, I hear of the deep hunger in our city. Our partnership with LSSN goes back to the beginning of that organization here in Las Vegas. The Nevada Homeless Alliance, whose offices are inside the LSSN building on Boulder Highway is responding to need in our city and our neighborhood with Pop-Up Project Homeless Connect. Their most recent event was yesterday. They have also used the parking lot across the street from our church to give space to providers and social service agencies that reach out to our neighbors in need of shelter. Family Promise will be back at Reformation this Sunday, and I look forward to visiting with those special families while they are with us. I regret that I have not been as active with Nevadans for the Common Good as I’d like to be, but did get to attend the NCG Clergy Caucus on September 18th. I will continue to seek out more from our congregation to get involved and to be in conversation with folks from our community about the struggles they face.
I hear stories across the synod as I serve on the New and Renewing Mission Table of the Grand Canyon Synod. I get to talk to pastors and redevelopers from Arizona to Atlanta, and also occasionally conduct Behavioral Interviews (for new Mission Developers and Redevelopers) on behalf of the ELCA. These leaders inspire me, and energize me for ministry here in the heart of the city.
Being a healthy leader means reaching out and relying on my own network of helpers. I spend a few hours a week at the gym, which helps me focus and start the day with a rush of endorphins, but often brings me into contact with neighbors like Sarah, Wayne, Pastor Jeremy, and others. I reach out to my clergy coach, Mary Frances (who was trained by our own Ron Hovick), which helps me test ideas, focus on action steps, and get organized. I also give thanks that I can speak open and honestly with our staff, which meets the first Monday of each month, to prepare for upcoming events, share our successes and struggles, and grow together as a team.
I’m grateful beyond words to serve a congregation in redevelopment. Just a few weeks ago we read the covenant agreement out loud, and voted (unanimously) to move forward with intentionality, focusing on faithful discernment, listening, planning, giving, and reaching out beyond the walls of our church. It’s not rocket science – at times it’s harder. There will still be struggles at times, but I’m inspired when I hear stories from the people I visit and the ones who visit us, when I get to know our neighbors in need, and when I get to participate in ministry with you and other local agencies, that we are on the right track. The Holy Spirit is still moving, and we hold closely to the promises of Jesus who says to the disciples after the resurrection,
“I am with you always, to the end of the age.”