A Return to Tent-Making?

April 8, 2013

Does the Church need full-time ordained leadership in the local context?

I have been wondering about the viability of the full-time ordained clergy in the near future. It used to be that the clergy were more often than not, the only educated person in the context of the local congregation. The knowledge held by the clergy, as well as the skills of reading, teaching, and public discourse often set the clergy apart from the parishioner. But that day has long been only found in the past.

What then is the purpose of a full-time clergy person? Is it a quaint holdover from “how we have always done it” or are we afraid of what might happen to the ‘orthodoxy’ of the Faith if the clergy were displaced from their ivory towers?

Now as a full-time ordained clergyperson, I do have a financial benefit in holding a call in a local congregation. I also have security in a future pension, healthcare, paid vacations, time and money for further education, and still some status in the surrounding community because of my position. Why do I question a good thing? Because I believe that we have stifled the Gospel by making it safe and comfortable. We have also diminished the ‘edginess’ of the message when it is wrapped in a corporate structure and institutional understanding.

I believe the ministry has suffered because of the time spent in administrative necessity in reporting a ‘successful’ ministry to the higher structural authority. The transformational power of the Gospel has been made palatable so that the financial supports may be protected while people continue to be suffocated with the status quo.

The Church needs to reawaken to the transformational power of the Resurrection if it is to continue to survive in a way that is true to its Commission. Change (conversion) is what this world needs, and if it cannot begin in the midst of those called together by the Author of Creation, we are truly a pitiful lot.

For those wanting to see our guide for d

September 22, 2012

For those wanting to see our guide for devotions you can now find it on my new website
http://transforminggrace.org/prayer/ Use away.

Renewing Contemplation

July 18, 2012

I just finished a week long silent retreat focusing on centering prayer (which is a method of prayer that leads into the prayer of contemplation). It was great. I must say that I was so deeply impressed by the wisdom contained within this simple practice and the possibilities of transformation that it holds.

The part the I especially connected with was the ways in which, by opening our self in silence to God’s presence and action in our lives, our deepest injuries, our false selves and sin begin to emerge from our unconscious and are healed. I was amazed as I could watch this happening with in me, and now as I am back at work, how this continues to open me up to God’s grace.

It makes me wonder what a church, rooted in contemplation, would be like. I wonder if this is a part of our path to renewal. That we can be renewed when each of us, in silence, opens the core of who we are to be healed by God’s grace, so that that grace can flow through us to heal each other.

Perhaps it is the structures of our false self that need to be transformed so that there might be new life.

To learn more about centring prayer visit contemplative outreach

Holy Spirit: Renewal

June 26, 2012

Lately I have been wondering more and more about the Holy Spirit.  In a conversation the other day with Preston, he mentioned something quite important along the lines of – “Every renewal movement of the church has been a movement of the Spirit and rooted in a renewed piety.”

I am sure that this is enough to send chills down many a Lutheran spine.  Yet there is something profoundly true about it. We try to restructure churches, we try to reason out new theologies, but it is usually only people’s experience of God that moves and motivates people. Further, one of the things I learned from my research into transformation is the importance of habits. It is not great decisions or great treatise that change our world; rather it is the ongoing daily patterns that, like the water of a stream, move mountains.

So where do we turn first? There is only one place, to again turn to God’s Spirit, to pray that we might be open to its movement, open to its renewal and that we renew this commitment in daily prayer, in daily reading scripture and in our daily practice of love. 

Convention – and I am excited.The church

May 22, 2012

Convention – and I am excited.The church is in upheaval, the rescue plan is dead on arrival and the faithful gather. Its Holy Spirit time!

What if? – There was still more to understand

January 31, 2012

Where are we in our faith journey at this moment in history? Have we come to an understanding of faith and the Church that will serve us for the rest of time? Have we fulfilled what Jesus came to show us?
I just started reading “Integral Christianity: The Spirit’s Call to Evolve” and have already found it quite telling in opening a new understanding about where the Church is and where it may have yet to reach. Paul Smith, a pastor for almost 50 years, uses an understanding of Ken Wilber’s integral psychology to delve into understanding the Church through its history, as well as where some churches have already embraced the possibility of going beyond the “traditional” understanding of the faith.
In conversation with a number of people from diverse backgrounds in Christianity, the Church, faith, and even other religions I have noticed a great number of differences in how one approaches “faith” and “belief”. Understanding these differences through the lenses of integral psychology and developmental psychology has given me a chance to reflect upon the strengths and weaknesses of each stage of faith influenced worldviews. This book presents in an approachable way how we can better understand one another as we work and live out the life to which we have been called to in Christ.

Models of Vibrancy

November 14, 2011

I have been spending some time pondering how the wider church could most effectively help congregations renew. The challenge is that most of us don’t even know what renewal could look like. Lets face it, most of us have grown up in and been trained in a model of church that seems to be struggling. As a parish pastor, what would help me is to see and lean from other churches that have found ways of thriving in their mission and ministry.

What we often forget is that there are many congregations out there that are thriving and in the process learning things about what it takes to thrive in our present age. What we need is for people to learn about these congregations and make available the lessons they have learned and the models that they have created. Thankfully someone has started this process. Luther Seminary and the Lilley foundations are undertaking such a project. It is called the Vibrant Congregations Project. It is still in process, but well worth keeping an eye on. Perhaps it is also something we could think about doing in our own contexts.