|Much fun was had by all. Well, some fun was had by most.|
1. This project had a clear beginning and ending. We started the project with a bare patch of ground covered in a few inches of class 5 rock. When it's complete, we'll have a brand new playground for our school. There is so much in my life that simply can't be measured by simple, visually evident progress; when I get the chance to help in a project that does, whether it's just for me or for the community I love to take advantage of it when I can. Know why so many pastors love mowing the lawn, knitting, woodworking or other project-oriented hobbies? This is why.
2. I got to meet some folks outside of our congregation. We've lived in town for about a year, but we're still introducing ourselves to folks. In a town of 3,500, it is possible for a pastor to remain completely anonymous if she or he should want to do so. We don't. Let's be frank: the church can't afford to have leaders that hide in their offices anymore and only venture out for visits to hospitals, nursing homes and grieving families. Those visits still need to happen, mind you, but even we introverts who lead congregations have to get out into the communities we purportedly serve. Coffee at the cafe. Going to Kiwanis when invited. Ball games. Legion dinners. School activities even if you don't have kids in the district. All these and more are places people need to see pastors and church members because they aren't coming to see us in church without a reason anymore. Heck, even when they have a reason to come, they often won't because they've been disconnected for so long. Evangelism isn't a committee thing anymore (if it ever should have been): it needs to be part of our very identity now!
3. I got to do some un-pastorlike stuff as a pastor. Sometimes it's fun to just go out and be a guy and see how people really act when the pastor isn't around (not that people knowing you're the pastor means they're on their best behavior, but I digress). I almost let it slide for most of the morning, just to see what would happen, but someone asked how I was connected to the project, and when they heard we had kids in the district, they asked what I do. When I told them I was a pastor, seeing the look on the face of the woman who'd flipped me off five minutes earlier as we were joking together was priceless. I got my hands roughed up. I got clay on my work boots and all over my shorts. I got a sunburn and dropped an f-bomb when a socket wrench slipped and I bashed my knuckles on a metal platform. I ate pizza in the sun and we told each other jokes. Of course, there are people in our congregation with whom I could do those things. With some, I already have. But this was different, somehow. Maybe it was because I wasn't worried about whether or not I'd hear people complaining about something behind my back - no matter what happened yesterday, chances are no one would throw a fit or threaten to withhold their offering because of it.
These and many other reasons are why I took a day off to sweat, swear and get filthy yesterday. It was glorious. It was good for our community. It was good for me. It was so much fun it didn't seem like work. If you're in the pastor or church professional game, I highly recommend a day like I had yesterday. I dare say it might be good for your soul.