Monday, April 07, 2008

Frequently Asked (and Unasked) Questions of Your New Pastor

A week ago, I got the call that informed me that I will be appointed to a new church. My family will be moving to the Panhandle of Oklahoma. I will be serving the Turpin and Baker UMChurches. Lisa and I are excited about the possibilities. But moving into a new setting always brings questions. So, for anyone from the new churches who may end up reading this, here are some of the answers you will be wanting to know.

What do we call you? Pastor, preacher, brother, Hey You?
What you call a pastor depends on your background and tradition. I don’t expect anyone to call me anything specific. But here are some helpful guidelines:
• Reverend is a formal title best used for official address and invitations or business letters
• Pastor is what I do and my relationship to the church. It is fine for people to call me Pastor Todd. Or even just Pastor.
• Preacher is also what I do. I don’t mind people calling me Preacher.
• “Hey, you” is perfectly fine until you get to know me.
• Above all else, Todd works just as well. It’s the name my Momma gave me and I’m pretty attached to it.

Are you going to change things?
The simple answer is yes. My coming to be your pastor is about change. I am nothing like your leaving pastor. He and I will do things differently. So there will be some changes because of that.

I will not, however, make any drastic changes. And until we get to know each other better I will not institute changes to things that are familiar. We have plenty of time for something like that. The only exception might be the carpet. Just kidding.

Are you going to visit people?
Growing up, my Momma always taught my sister and me that we should never invite ourselves over to people’s houses. That is a rule I still live by. I will be glad to visit with you. But I will not come to visit you unless I have an invitation. You have to ask me to come visit you. This way you can pick a time that is best for you. If my schedule allows it, I will be glad to visit.

When it comes to hospital visits, that is something else. I will gladly come and pray for you before a procedure, if that is what you want. If I come, I usually stay until the procedure is over and the attending doctor reports. But again, you have to request that. And you have to let me know when and where. Hospitals are cracking down on information they will release. It is law that they cannot release certain information. If you are going in, and you want a visit, please inform me in advance.

How can I get in touch with you?
You are welcome to contact me whenever you need to. I may not be able to physically get to see you at the moment but at least contact me. Providing I can get internet set up quickly, the best way to reach me is in this order: email, instant message, office phone, cell phone, home phone.

Will your wife be/do ___(fill in the blank)______?
I know that some churches have expectations of the preacher’s wife. My wife is her own person with her own gifts, talents, and interests. If you would like to ask her to do something, she will be glad to consider it. But she is not appointed to the church, I am. Please don’t expect her to do something without sitting down and talking with her.

Will you be at various events?
Personal family time is very important to us. We like to spend time with one another and do things together as a family. If there are events that we can come to as a family, we will be there. But we also like to enjoy quiet time together. So we most likely will not be a every event.

If there is something special you would like me to be involved with, please come and talk to me. I failed two classes in seminary. One of them was Mind Reading. I don’t know what you want or expect. But if you come talk to me, then we will come to a better understanding of each other.

What do you like?

Favorite food: Bar-b-que ribs
Favorite drink: Due to health reasons, decaffeinated coffee with milk and sugar (yes I like a little coffee with my milk) or a big glass of sweet tea.
Favorite music: I enjoy a lot of different styles of music and depending on my mood, I will listen to different things. I do not typically listen to a lot of secular music (country or rock) but I am not opposed to them.
Favorite movie: Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium; The Princess Bride; Independence Day; One Crazy Summer
Favorite television show: right now, Doctor Who; I like almost all science-fiction shows
Heroes: Walt Disney, Spiderman, Dave Ramsey, my mother, John Wesley
Favorite sport: I don’t care much for sports but I like hockey most of all
Favorite snack food: beef jerky and gummy bears (not together)

Where do you come from?

I was born into an Air Force family. I was born December 29, 1970 outside of San Bernardino, California. We moved to the Philippines and Wichita, Kansas. When I was about 10 we moved to a little town in southeastern Oklahoma.

I attended college at East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma. I have a degree in History with Russian and Soviet studies and Sociology as my minor. I attended seminary at Asbury Theological in Wilmore, Kentucky.

I have served churches in Alva, Leedey, and Claremore. I have been in the ministry since May of 1998.

Liberal/Conservative?

I am more conservative than liberal. Politically and theologically I fall more to the right. And am moving more to the right the older I get. I believe that there are things to be learned from both sides, though. I respect a person’s point of view and expect the same respect in return. And I don’t mind a healthy argument.

OU/OSU?
I bleed black and orange – the colors of East Central University Tigers. I don’t root for either against the other. Nick is an OSU fan, though.

What do you do in your off time?
First of all, let me state that until I have adapted to the new way of life, I will maintain my previous schedule. Friday and Saturday are my days off. If there is an emergency, I will handle it. But I protect those days. They are days for my family and my own mental health. Sunday through Thursday are business days. And, except for meetings, anything after 8:00 is time off. You can call until, usually, 10:00 in the evening.

Now, what do I do with my time off? Not a lot. I’m not much of an outdoorsman, although I do like to go fishing now and then. I don’t play golf. But mostly that’s because I never learned how. My main source of recreation is computer centered. I play computer games. I surf the web. I blog. I work on computers. That’s what I do.

I also like to read. I am currently exploring writing a book. I play guitar. I read and collect comic books. I love the Nintendo Wii and PlayStation 2. I have 2 boys who love to wrestle. And I work with my boys in Cub Scouts. I like to cook and grill out. I make a mean homemade pizza.

My favorite vacation destination is Walt Disney World in Florida. When I grow up, I want to work there.

What do I do when you make me mad?

I will make this promise: I will make every effort to not intentionally hurt your feelings, offend you, or hurt you in any way. But realize this: I am human. I make mistakes. If you have gotten this far in this than I may have already made you mad or offended you. If that is the case, I want to do what I can to mend the relationship.

If I have said or done something that offended you, tell me about it. Call me, email me, come by the office or house. But tell me that I’ve hurt you. If you don’t feel comfortable coming alone, then bring a friend or two that you can draw strength from. If you can’t face me or speak directly to it, then ask a third person to come to me, in your name, and tell me about it. I will then come to you and try to find a way to restore the relationship.

I should also say that I do not honor anonymous information. If you send me a letter without a name, I will read it, but I cannot do anything to respond to it. If you come to me and say, “Some people…” or, “I can’t tell you who…”, I will listen to the complaint, but I will not respect this as honest communication.

I know no one likes conflict. But let me say that the pattern that I have stated above works. In fact, it is a modified version of the way Jesus recommends how to handle offense among Christians. I believe that the only holy and right solution to conflict among believers is speaking to one another in love about the things that hurt us. Offense can, and does, destroy churches. So if I have offended, I want to heal the wound in order to save the church.

What is something we must absolutely know about you?

I study personality types. I put a lot of stock in how personality guides actions and effects relationships. You have to absolutely know what my personality type is.

I am an introvert. That means that I have to retreat into seclusion to recharge my mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual batteries. It does not mean that I am not a people person. I love to be around people. I love chatting and socializing. But in order to function in that way, I have to have some cave time. That means I have to hide in my cave until I’m recharged. A great example of this is Sunday afternoons. After two services, I’m wiped out by Sunday afternoon. I do not like to schedule a lot of activity in the afternoon on that day. It doesn’t mean I won’t do something. It just means I prefer to do little.

I am a thinker. I operate in a realm of ideas and possibilities. I see things in my mind and wish they could be reality. I’m not a dreamer, per se. But theory and ideas are my playground. I work out problems in my head.

I’m an analyzer. I sit back and take information in before I make a choice. I research and gather data before making a decision. I weigh the matter out in logical terms. If I’m not speaking, then I’m listening. I will speak when the opportunity is right or when I have something to say.

You may perceive me as being arrogant or anti-social. I am a self-avowed weird person. It may appear that I don’t have any emotions or that I’m overly critical. The truth is that my personality is such that, to many people, yes that is exactly what I am. But please understand that I am not being rude. I may have my head wrapped around something or I am on my way to an objective. It doesn’t mean I’m a snob or I don’t like you. I’m just focused. I may seem arrogant. But the self-awareness and confidence I possess helps me survive in the settings I find myself in. I do have emotions. I just don’t swing between emotions. I don’t get overly emotional in happy or sad ways.

But that is me in a nutshell. Or I’m a nut without a shell. I’ll let you decide.