It's a huge privilege being able to make time to talk to people about their story, to hear about just how much they have experienced, the skills and talents they have and what they have given and are giving to the life of the Church and community. And these meetings were humbling examples of that privilege.
At one of these coffee based encounters I spent some time talking to one of those responsible for the St John the Divine Twitter & Facebook presence. Bob is a creative guy with experience in newspaper editing and legislative record keeping (as well as other things) - he is also a Twitter and Facebook person himself and in the course of our conversation he said something which struck me: "I don't share as much about myself as you do." It wasn't a criticism, just a comment on the way I have chosen to make myself present on both my twitter and facebook pages.
To give some context, this was particularly in the light of a recent tweet which shared a short video made as a possible 'sales pitch' for a TV show that never was
a RT from earlier The TV show that never was https://t.co/L0WfzqljVB - still makes me laugh, my own slice of Devon Heaven.....
— Alastair McCollum (@revdal) October 22, 2013
This show was one where I would have been a part of a group of people who were all interesting, diverse, perhaps even a bit unusual. The one thing that would have been shared would have been that they were all people I have got to know in the course of my duties. One of which was my good friend Steve (that's him on the left) from 'Cranberries Luxury Hideaway' a self made man with more ideas buzzing around his head in a day than i have in a week! Another group were those attached to the Yarcombe Inn where I was part of the group who set it up (also as part of a TV show) as a Community Run venture. Last but not least was my biker buddy Chris, of Chris' tat shack, who was going to do me some ink, probably live on TV if he got the chance!
In the course of our conversation I did acknowledge that I had a tattoo, two in fact and there has been the inevitable embarrassing Facebook sharing of a picture of them both. I also shared something of the fact that as a minister I found early on that I was a public person - someone who was known in public, whose face and details and lifestyle and phone number were in the public eye. My response to that has been to be as transparent as possible - and to try and disabuse as many as possible of the idea that Clergy are in some way distant, superior or different to the rest of us.
I do get concerned sometimes that this might be perceived as some huge ego trip - or indeed that it might be some huge ego trip on my part! But I hope that in being as authentic as possible I am not simply bolstering my own ego, but being part of a movement which is abroad, intentionally or not, amongst my sisters and brothers who are in ministry - lay and ordained. This is a movement that says being a Christian, and serving the church, does not separate us from reality, and we don't see ourselves as better than anyone else. We are who we are, we are who God has made us, though by the Grace of God we aren't quite who God will have us be.
So we invite you to walk with us in our becoming. And see us warts and all.