These days and for the next few weeks I’ll be living the “Viva Loca”(cue the Mariachi band) with school, committee and church stuff wrap up for the year. Things are exciting but it will be busy and no doubt stressful. I am looking forward to Christmas this year and just relaxing – or trying to anyway…
I bought and finished the book “Preaching Re-imagined” by Doug Pagitt this week and it was one of the most challenging books I have read on preaching. I am not saying I agree with every thing Doug says but he make some valid points and compelling critiques on preaching as speaking and offers what I think is a viable alternative (although I still have questions and concerns with it). He echoes a lot of the sentiments that I have felt and others I know have expressed when it comes to the typical way of preaching and speaking. I have a lot of questions about how “progressional preaching” would actually function and work and hope that I would watch it in action some day. Regardless, he makes several great points and even if you disagree with his solution his critique of the current style/process of preaching as speaking is compelling and worth reading.
I just finished reading Gordon MacDonald’s book, “Ordering Your Private World” for class and I was struck but the following quote:
“Almost every pastor is judged on the basis of whether he/she has a vision. And this usually means a vision of how the church can grow, grow, grow. The pastoral care of the people – which for hundreds of years has been the aim of a church – is less important in comparison to the gathering of more people.” (Page 35)
I was struck not because it was a new idea for something I have never heard of before, but because it was speaking to something inside of me. Maybe it is part of my personality but there has always been a drive in me – a voice telling me to do more, grow more ministries, or get more people. I am not sure why that is and there is probably a deep physiological reason for it I’m sure, but it is there and our North Americian church culture doesn’t help it. I’m a creator, visionary and entrepreneurial by nature, all of which are qualities I’m proud of but I am prone to what Gordon MacDonald describes. That is my fear – that my drive becomes vision, growth and ministries rather then people. The Kingdom of God is not an institution, ministry or a human creation but people. I know that by my effort I can grow an institution and maybe even a ministry but I can not under my power or effort grow the Kingdom of God and that is what I am commissioned and called to do. I love people don’t get me wrong, but maybe like you, it is hard to consider successful what our world (and dare I say even some churches) doesn’t seem to consider important.
I just got back from Pastor’s Prayer Retreat and had a great time connecting with the rest of our church’s staff as well as my friends who pastor from other churches. The most enjoyable times at those things are the meals and even the times when I step out of the main sessions and have a good, hilarious and meaningful conversation with like-minded friends.In our trip we also connected with our good friends Derek and Cicilia and we loved it – hanging out at the Keg and laughing and just enjoying friends you can be completely real with. They are awesome!!!
This last weekend was my friend Mike’s last day as Pastor of Youth Ministries at our Church. I am saddened because I know they are moving and will miss watching “guy” movies (movies our wives won’t watch) together, chatting about heart issues and meaningless issues (including what happened the night before on “The Daily Show”) and working on ministry stuff together. This last weekend was especially fitting and sad as I preached and Mike wrote and played a song based on the message. My hope and prayer for him is that God will use these next few years as he goes back to school to sharpen his skills and soften his heart. Anyways, Mike, if you read this, you are a great friend and gifted pastor and our family will miss your family very much – God’s speed.