Thursday, December 22, 2011

When we say "God"

It's hard out here for a pastor. The tendency towards professional expertise in our cutlure has formed pastors into the kinds of people who separate leadership, spiritual formation, social justice, evangelism, and education (so that we actually know something about the Christian tradition, the bible, and theology) from one another. Go to any church and pastors will embody one of these things more than the others. My problem is that I think that's okay. I think pastoring looks like all of this in a variety of different forms. The Spirit gives different gifts to different people, which means that every pastor has a different mix of what these things look like, which makes for very kinds of pastors.

It doesn't justify that a pastor who is better at leadership should not also read theology or know something about prayer. The problem comes when people push towards one of these aspects as more important than the other. To me, these are the ingredient (and there are probably more) that God uses to shape and form different kinds of pastors for different kinds of work in the world.

We need the leadership pastor that can organize and streamline processes. We need the wise sage who is really good spiritual formation, who knows how to ask the kinds of questions that melt away the resistance. We need the justice oriented person who reads newspaper and listens to politicians and knows when the city council is meeting and organize rallies and protests and shelters. We need deep readers of the faith who know the bible, tradition, and theology. We need these people!

And we need them (me, us) to work together!

But is there a way to bring it all together?

An article by Stanley Hauerwas seems to help me here. In the article he is talking about what it means to be a theologian, but I don't separate very much being a "pastor" from being a "theologian" and vice versa. I think the end is same for both, it just comes in different ways (again, the spirit gives gifts). What Hauerwas says about being a theologian I want to also say about being a pastor:

"It is important to ask some to do nothing with their lives but to think about what we say when we say 'God.'"

What do ya think?

UPDATE: Click here to read the article.

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