Ministry Support Services

Karen Lunney: Consultant, Speaker, Educator

Fishing opportunities in the Sede Vacante

Fishing opportunities in the Sede Vacante

Fishing opportunities in the Sede Vacante

There has been a lot in the media during this time of the Sede Vacante. (Empty Seat – i.e we are between Popes) There’s stuff about the upcoming conclave, Benedict’s retirement, and who could be the new Pope.  There has also been a fair bit of conversation around it, some in places I wouldn’t have expected. now I know that the Vatican is landlocked, but I reckon those in the know there  have been fishing….

I was in the car driving to a meeting with a friend. She’s younger than I am, but our kids are the same age, and we’re studying together so we spend a fair bit of time in each other’s company. I don’t think she has any particular religious affiliation, she’s certainly not mentioned a denominational leaning. Anyway, she introduced the topic of the Pope’s resignation and my thoughts on it all.  I was honestly surprised that during the last conclave she and some friends watched the news avidly – to the extent of taking time off school to stay at home and watch TV.

This seems to be one of those great moments for conversation. It’s not every day a Pope resigns. How are we taking this unique opportunity to have faith conversations with young people, or even with others who know we are catholic and want our opinion? How are we dealing with the questions that come up, and turning them from a factual answer to an invitation, an opportunity for evangelisation?

I’m not a person who goes fishing. I’d prefer to sit by the water without dangling a rod, but the image of being a fisherman is part of the gospels and it does make sense.

However I do know that there are a couple of methods.  One is casting out into the deep and sitting quietly, not moving and waiting for a bite. Another seems to involve using an eye-catching fly and flicking it about – short sharp flicky movements and catching it that way. Both are useful depending on the fish you want to catch.

So, with our evangelisation, I think we need to master both methods. There is the fly fishing method of being up front and grabbing the attention, looking for the nibble so that we can make an impact. Then there is the deep slow waiting- the need for developing relationships so that people can see the gospel lived in our lives and in our community.

At the moment, there is a lot going on – Media headlines, Facebook and twitter feeds are full of things Catholic – from great cartoons to serious explanations.  It seems there is a lot of fly fishing going on. And I wonder a little if the delay in the conclave is to extend this opportunity for “good press” with the media headlines.

However, we are also in Lent. There is a lot of the deeper conversation going on, in Lenten groups, Lectio Divina and in preparation for Easter. There is the need to take the time to stop, think and pray. We need to go deep – both with our prayer and with our relationships. The Cardinals need to go deep in their discernment.

As we develop relationships with people, and we all know that evangelisation is about relationships, I think this fishing analogy can work for us too.

We need to develop skills in both fly fishing and deep water fishing.

And I pray our next pope is gifted in both….

Advent in January

Advent Hope Ministry Support Services Karen Lunney Blog

A blog theme was running through my head during Advent – all about being a time of expectant waiting, of quiet hope, of preparing for Christ, of seeing the good/ seeing God in all situations.

Of course, it stayed in my head rather than being written down and got lost amongst the usual December busyness as well – preparing for family visiting from interstate, cleaning the house, finalising work projects for 2012.

Now we are into January. Well into January.  In a way, much more than Advent in December I find that January is my waiting time. A quiet time. More time for prayer. A time of hope.

For my youth ministry colleagues, January has usually been either a down time when offices are tidied and storerooms are sorted through to make space for the New Year or a time of frantic activity as a major event or retreat is hosted. Fresh calendars are put up with new and exciting ideas and events populating them.

This January is a quiet one for me. The usual routines of playgroup and library time don’t start until school does. My son is back at crèche two days a week and I’m contacting people about my availability. The calendar is slowly being populated with tentative work – waiting to be confirmed when boards next meet, or schools and universities ease into the New Year. The home office is quiet – but it calls to be properly cleaned, sorted, projects retired and folders archived.

I’ve been working on getting things like business cards and nametags done. It’s a “hurry up and wait” scenario. It seems there is a snag in every step – printers not getting things right, me trying to design stuff myself, then realising that there are some things that should be left to the experts (in this case Matt Price) It is a cause of frustration and I wonder what’ God’s plan in all this is – to teach me to not try to do everything myself or to spend too long trying to get the best price, and just going with people and businesses I trust? Using that time wisely in prayer instead?

I’m also looking for part time work to balance and complement Ministry Support Services, and there is the waiting time and praying time that accompanies this exercise. Waiting for jobs to be advertised, getting the application prepared by deadline and then waiting for a response. Of course it is all in God’s hands and I know that either way God will provide (sometimes providing a “learning experience” instead of a job!)

I get so much more done when there is a lot to do, and a deadline to do it by. In the busy times I long for a lull, but living in it is a bit like the boat on the becalmed sea. I know that it is a time to cherish and not wish away.

My call for this time is to take the time that I was snatching in between busy life in December to do more than “snatch” the Advent awareness moments. Now I intend to be slow, with deliberate awareness, to live and pray, waiting in joyful hope through the next month.  I may not be waiting for the birth of Christ at Christmas, but I am waiting and praying to see what God has in store for 2013.

Happy “January Advent” – may the start to 2103 be a time of joyful hope, of prayerful preparation and of looking for God in the moments of everyday life.


R u u online?

Online Identity at Ministry Support ServicesBack when I first started in a paid youth ministry position in 1998, I went to an ecumenical conference in Melbourne called “Signing” We had a panel hypothetical on youth ministry 20 years in the future. I remember making the prediction that identity and the search for meaning would still be an issue for young people, but with the added complication of an online identity vs. a real life identity. So, there are a few years left to go til the twenty year mark, but I believe it’s been an issue for some time. There are a lot of scholarly articles and research into the subject, so I’m not going to go there today.

What I didn’t think about at the time is identity online being an issue for those in ministry.

In an age where widespread self disclosure is almost the norm, all the big important bits of life are mirrored online (Hey world – here’s a photo of my firstborn son)– along with many of the somewhat boring and inconsequential (I had three types of cheese in my sandwich today- here’s a photo)  I think we have somewhat lost the sense of boundaries in our online identities.

If you were a youth ministry co-ordinator (or teacher) five years ago, you may have had a pic of the family in the office and refer to them in a normal casual manner with colleagues and young people– “Fred took his first step yesterday”. But you wouldn’t put that news in your monthly newsletter or daily bulletin – you’d save the page real-estate for information on upcoming events, or to celebrate achievements of the young people in your ministry. You keep your audience in mind in your communications.

But with social media – your audience is often everyone you know.  So as someone in ministry, how do I tailor my online presence?

For me it is a matter of mindfulness. I have a fairly new twitter account @karenlunney. There are a number of things I’m interested in and people I’m following. My feed includes stuff about ministry, prayer, youth and the kind of things that relate to my passions in this area. But as an individual, I’m also interested in what is going on in Bendigo, local markets and produce, and parenting and breastfeeding related issues. I’m aware that all the people who follow me are very rarely going to have the same broad range of interests, so I’ve chosen to focus my tweets and retweets in the areas of church, youth and ministry.  If I find something online about a new cafe that I really like and want to share, I’ll let the others in my Mum’s group know through our Facebook page.  Or even better, ring someone and go and check it out!

So, yes, I’m really me online, but I use my different online options for different “audiences.” I don’t think of it as being compartmentalised, but in exactly the same way I have a slightly different conversation at a party with someone who is really into Doctor Who (can’t wait for second half of this season…), and someone who is wanting to ask my opinions of publications of St Mary’s Press (fabulous stuff!).

Same party, same me, different conversations. Depends which party hat I’m wearing at the time.

Official Launch

Well, I’ve officially launched – First Sunday of Advent!

After a couple of years operating on a word-of-mouth basis, I have a web presence with this site and my facebook page, as well as my twitter tag of @karenlunney

I’m planning to use this space to blog about experiences with Ministry Support Services, musings on ministry, reflections on readings and the like.

Come back to see what I’ve been thinking…