Charlotte’s Web 1.0

Here, I go!

This is my first public blog post. I have blogged in my role as an online teacher, but never for such a potentially broad audience,. I don’t know where this journey will take me, and how I will find time for it, but I know that deep down I am feeling called to put some things out there. So all my life, the “Charlotte’s Web” thing has been mentioned especially when I meet knew people. So I asked my friends and colleagues on Facebook, what I should name my blog, and guess what they recommended! Thanks Matthew! Interesting analogy on so many levels.

It is time.

I have been writing and teaching about Web 2.0 technologies, now referred to as Social Media, for many years. So the question, “do I want to do a blog” has been in my thoughts at different times. But I didn’t want to become another “dead blogger” in the blogosphere. However, lately, my reading on “communities of practice” is challenging me to put some thoughts out there, because helping ministry leaders become competent and confident is my passion. Last week, a colleague shared with me that they thought the diversity of my ministry and the insights that this experience brings might be beneficial to other ministry leaders. I am not sure if that is true, but I do know that I am feeling called to “practice what I preach” so to speak. Well, I really don’t preach, but I do teach, and I do believe that as ministry leaders we are called to work together to bring about the kingdom.

In my day…

When I started thinking about it, there is a lot of diversity to work and service I contribute towards the mission of the church. I bet when we all sit back and think about our ministry, we may realize that we are doing a diversity of things. For years, in presentations I have joked about the ministry “slashers” who serve the church: DRE/Youth Minister, Confirmation Coordinator/Music Director, Parish Secretary/DRE, or the Youth Ministry/Young Adult Minister. I think you get the point.

As for my ministry “slashing,” I work actively, right now in lots of diverse settings and areas, such as:
• the setting can be physical or virtual
• the context can be local,diocesan, national or even international
• the topic or issue can be youth ministry research and practice, lay ecclesial ministry, certification, ministry formation technology, learning style theory and e-learning, and communities of practice, just to name a few.

When I think back on my service as a youth ministry leader in the eighties and nineties (that was 30 years ago, how can I be that old!), I remember it was a web of activities (pardon the pun) as well. Any typical day could include any of these things: listening to a young person, teaching a class, meeting new parishioners, serving on committees, leading retreats, teaching confirmation, planning lock-ins and dances, facilitating parent education sessions, meeting with the parish staff, adult training, and volunteer management.

Than was then…this is now!

The Church’s current experience provides evidence of the growing diversity of ministerial roles. The reality of ministry “slashers” has been confirmed by my own longitudinal research on youth ministry leaders. In it I noted the great diversity of titles in the field. Most people have more than one area of ministerial responsibility and maybe even more than one parish location that where they serve. The research out of the Emerging Models Project from the National Association of Lay Ministry (http://emergingmodels.org/the-changing-face-of-us-catholic-parishes), confirms that ministers today experience the same diversity in their ministries and responsibilities. “More than one in four parishes (27 percent) are utilizing multi-parish ministry where the parish is most often “clustered” or “linked” (among other arrangements) to another parish.” My research on youth ministry leaders found the same percentage working in these clustered environments. Just knowing that reality has to change the way we think about how we engage in effective ministry.

A blessing and a curse?

So many of us are multi-tasking, multi-serving leaders trying to faithfully serve God’s people. Is dealing with such a broad scope and multiple audiences a blessing or a curse? The reality is it can be both a blessing and a curse. I know for me it has been both. But then I really am a “both/ and” person instead of “either/or.” I am looking forward to reflecting on these blessings, challenges, opportunities, and insights with those of you who want to come along on this journey!

So what can those that read or follow this blog expect? The regular sharing of random thoughts and experiences related to the many topics listed above, and then more. My goal? (You got to have a goal!) To continue to do what I can to contribute to the understanding of and formation of competent, faith-filled ministry leaders in today’s church!

Charlotte’s web 1.0, let the journey into the blogosphere begin!