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He is navigating new territory. It is difficult because there is no Global Positioning System (GPS) for this territory. It is old school navigation: reading manuals, interpreting policies, and trying to get ahold of people to make decisions.

We have had a ministry intern at our church for the last two years. He is in the home stretch of his seminary education. He has a call to serve as the pastor of a church. However, he has some ecclesiastical requirements to fulfill before he can begin his ministry. The requirements are outlined in our Book of Church Order. The requirements are open to interpretation and if you haven’t been a part of the system, they are a little fuzzy. I have tried to serve as his human GPS whenever possible. Communication is necessary and important, but people have to communicate and often people are the problem. You would think modern technology would help, but that is not always the case.

Navigating new territory can be difficult.

I am in the process of navigating the territory of Social Security and Medicare. Talk about confusing! These programs have their own language, own culture and are filled with assumptions. Frequently I have discovered things in this process and asked myself, “How are you supposed to know this?”

There is Medicare Part A which is usually described as hospital insurance, but it doesn’t cover doctors, surgeons, anesthetists and other services that you get in a hospital. Plus you don’t have to be hospitalized to get services under Part A because some of the services are provided outside the hospital, or even in your home.Medicare Part B is known as medical insurance. There are lots of services covered under Part B, but you also pay a premium to get those services. I won’t even go into Medicare Parts C and D!

The Social Security and Medicare system can be so difficult to understand that there are consultants who make a living guiding you through the system. They make sure you ask the right questions, access that right benefits and fill out the proper paperwork. (The government is big on paperwork.)

Navigating new territory can be difficult.

Because of my long-time services to colleges, I have helped parents understand and navigate the admission and financial aid systems. It has a language and culture of its own.

When you start a new job, it is wise to take some time to figure out the procedures and culture of your new employer.

Whenever I have started to serve in a new ministry, I have given myself a year to understand the culture of the congregation. There is a church of our same denomination a block away from us as the crow flies that shares our polity, theology and doctrine, but we are very different.  We each have a unique history and cultural story.  We serve unique segments of the population in unique ways.  Some people have attended both and have a hard time believing we are the same denomination.

Navigating new territory can be difficult.

It is an important principle to remember when people move into your neighborhood, or join your team, or your family.

It is important for all of us to remember what is like to be new when someone new enters our world.

Navigating new territory can be difficult.

~ Rev