Well, after a marathon of moving and driving and unloading, and then a quick run to the coast to check in on three of my five children and their significant others’ I’m here in the parsonage at Nobleford beginning to learn the ropes. Oh, while on the coast I got the great news that my married (middle) son and his wife are expecting, which means I must be old. If all goes well I’ll be a grandfather for the first time in about 7 months.

In this post, besides announcing I’m here, I have two other things to do. One is introduce my dog “Reef” and give some guidelines about how to meet him if you happen to encounter him. The other is to give a beginning outline of a plan.

First, Reef. Here he is: Image

He’s a “Blue Heeler” or Australian Cattle Dog. A very interesting and unique breed. Very smart!

Blue Heelers are bred to round up range cattle. They are a mix of Dingo and English Sheep dog, with some Dalmatian in them too. They nip the heels of the livestock (and sometimes are known to grab the tail or the flank to motivate movement) and that is why Heeler is part of the name. They are not doctors or nurses. They are a breed that makes very loyal one person companions. Unlike other breeds, Reef is not interested much in humans or human affection. I’ve had him three years and he finally knows my daughters well enough to let them cuddle him.

His name is the one he had when I took him over from some surfers on Vancouver Island.

I am a dog owner who believes that leashes are a sign of human failure. Failure to understand dogs and manage them. I am not an expert, but my experience is that loose dogs that are socialized well to dogs and who see their human as pack leader are the best and happiest way for dogs and humans to co-exist. See Caesar Milan’s National Geographic videos to see more about that.

Here are a few things I want to warn you about:

Reef is NOT used to children. I’d prefer if church kids did not approach him unless I was present. In fact, I’d like to have them help me get him used to kids. But because he will nip if he feels threatened, I don’t want any of us to risk a hurt child so I want to manage the interaction.

Reef will, if he sees you before I do and is off the leash, will bluster and bark his way right at you. IGNORE him, and he will stop. He might sniff you, but even that would be a lot of interest shown. React by screaming or running, and you reward him. Lately I’ve been practicing making him lie down when I see someone, and then he has to wait until I’ve said hello and invite him to come. Keeps me in the pack leader position, and lets him know he does not need to be my protector when it comes to that person. There, you know the main things to know about dealing with Reef.

Plans:

I will take about 2 weeks to get more or less completely set up in the house. I have a lot to unpack and organize. Just ask the guys who carried in just my books alone! In those two weeks I will only attend meetings and prepare for worship. Shortly after the two weeks are done, I hope to have a plan for visiting every household. More on that when I have it. Suggestions welcome. I want to have met everyone within about 2 months time.

After that, I hope to begin to ask people to be part of what we call the Transition (Steering) Team. They are a team of people who help me organize the events by which we will gather useful information in three main stages:

  1. Who have we been, a look at the stories of Nobleford’s past and inquiry into what has worked well for you in the past.
  2. Who are we now, and what is our context?
  3. Given that, who do we feel God is calling us to be, and what kind of pastor do we need to help us get there.

That is the simplest way to describe their work. There is much more to it, which I will share over time.

STM’s do more observing and question asking than leading. I will do some leading in the sermons I chose to use, but in the end the directional choices are to be worked out and owned by the TT, council and congregation together. So do not be bothered if I am in some meeting but am not taking a leadership role. That’s not my job.

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