Transforming Pastoral Ministry: Our Primary Calling

It’s easy for a pastor to convince him or herself that our primary calling is to the role we play within the context of the congregation we serve.

It’s natural to assume that when we are with our people, we are there in a particular capacity that demands a specific role.

For example, when I am engaged in pastoral care, in the privacy of my office, I am often tempted to play the role of ‘fixer,’ or ‘advocate,’ or ‘super counselor who solves everyone’s problems with ease and grace,’ etc.

Then, when I am in a meeting with elders, deacons, or various ministry teams I sense a need to play the role of visionary, leader, team-builder, or manager.

The Danger of Distance and Despair in a Role

Once I convince myself that the primary calling of my life is about the roles I play in my life, then it becomes easy for me to distance myself from the people I serve.  As the distance grows (subtly but with certainty), the voice in my head tells me that I sit above, apart from, or over, as an ‘expert’ of sorts, the dear members of my congregation.

Continue reading “Transforming Pastoral Ministry: Our Primary Calling”

Transforming Pastoral Ministry, 6: Called to “Curate”

I love lemons.

They are, by far, one of my favorite fruits!

I most enjoy lemons in the vast array of pies, tarts, cookies, and cakes Melissa takes the time to bake.

To enjoy lemons, in any form, dozens of things must happen first.

I won’t list all of those things (because I don’t know them), but I will note a handful that are helpful for our analogy of cultivating/curating.

  1. A seed is planted.
  2. A tree must grow in soil that is conditioned and nurtured to encourage its growth.
  3. Bugs, insects, and a variety of other air-born pestilences must be vigilantly guarded against.
  4. A bloom bursts forth.
  5. A fruit grows from the bloom.
  6. The fruit ripens on the tree.
  7. Eventually, someone picks the fruit.

Well, you get the picture!

At some point, I finally get to sink my teeth into some form of lemon-infused dinner, drink, or dessert!

An Ancient Art!

In order for any of this to take place, however, the soil in which the lemon is first planted must be healthy soil that’s been nurtured, tended, literally arranged and organized in order for a fruit or plant to grow from it!

Continue reading “Transforming Pastoral Ministry, 6: Called to “Curate””

Transforming Pastoral Ministry and Leadership, 5: Soul-Care IS the Mission!

This past Sunday I experienced a moment that reinforced the why, how, and what that supports and sustains Transforming Pastoral Ministry efforts.

The moment came through Tom Rhodes.  Tom is a personal friend and an active member of the Pillar family.

Tom has been a friend of mine for nearly twenty years.

Eight years ago, when we launched Pillar, I let Tom know what I was up to and invited him and his family to join us.

Tom and Sophie joined us shortly after we began worshipping as a congregation.

When they first showed up at  Pillar, they looked a little like that worn-out disciple to whom I referred in my last post.

I don’t remember my exact conversation with Tom and Sophie during the days they first chose to attend Pillar.

I probably told them the same thing I say to just about everyone who shows up at Pillar:

Continue reading “Transforming Pastoral Ministry and Leadership, 5: Soul-Care IS the Mission!”

Transforming Pastoral Leadership: What, Why, and How!

Transforming Pastoral Leadership: What, Why, and How!

As I said in my first post, these reflections on pastoral ministry will be rolling out piecemeal.  With this installment, I am going to hit the pause button.  Really, the rewind button and take you back to 1995.

I married Melissa, my wife of nearly twenty-three years now, on July 29, 1995.  Within two weeks of our wedding day, we were invited to join a church and serve in a position of Associate Pastor of Youth and Children.

The church was Oak Grove Church of God in Tampa, Fl.

I’ve loved everywhere I’ve served.   I’ve even enjoyed the churches that weren’t so loving during the time of my service with them.

But Tampa was special.

Many of the kids who were a part of our first ministry are now grown with families of their own.  Some of the most enjoyable correspondence Melissa and I have is with these grown men and women with whom we began our first ministry assignment.

Just a couple of months before starting at Oak Grove, in May of 1995, I graduated from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.  As is the case with most seminary graduates, I left with the confident assurance that I was going to show a church how ministry should be done.

Answering Questions No One Is Asking

Also, of course, I was coming with all the answers in hand.

Continue reading “Transforming Pastoral Leadership: What, Why, and How!”

The Story of a Church: A Disruptive and Dynamic Journey!

Spiritual Formation as a Disruptive and Dynamic Journey!

God’s Kingdom has come (already begun) with the birth, death, and resurrection of Christ. This is an indisputable biblical fact.

It’s also true that his kingdom rule continues to be contested!  The powers that once ran and sought to ruin his good world through sin and shame continue to exert notable force.

Even as the often slow but certain Kingdom-coming continues to make its presence known!

These two realities

  1. That God’s reordered rule in and through His son, our Messiah, has already begun, and
  2. That the powers and principalities of this present age continue to resist,

have real-time consequences in this life.

A lingering consequence of these two truths is that spiritual formation is often more like a disruptive and dynamic journey, rather than a linear and progressive trajectory.

Continue reading “The Story of a Church: A Disruptive and Dynamic Journey!”