Mission as a way of seeing

January 27, 2011

I was handed the latest United Church of Canada periodical, “Touchstone: theology shaping witness” and told it might speak to me.  The issue is titled, “Ministry, why bother?”

An article written by Hugh D. Reid struck me as I read it this morning.  He tells of the ministry experience of a man named Christian.

“He met hostility and suspicion from the people to whom he was sent, people who could believe more easily in their rejection by the world and their insignificance to the world than they could believe in a God who loved them, but Christian was equipped with joy.  He said, “in the face of their antagonism,” he was sustained, “by the truth about them that they did not know.”  His task was not to coerce or to manipulate them into recieving this truth for he was more than a conqueror; he had only to patiently be for them until they could own for themselves the love and significance that was theirs.  He has seen many lives transformed from the street to stability, from violence to community, from death to life as the redemption that has been accomplished took hold.”

Do I have the eyes (and the patience!)to see in others the truth about them that they do not know?

Lord, you have given me the desire, give me also the grace to complete this task.

 


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Healthy pastors, healthy church

January 20, 2011

It’s true, this year I did make some quiet half-verbalized resolution to be more healthy.  Too many hours at my desk or in my car is making me soft – and I was feeling it!  But for me, health is more than just exercise, it’s about ensuring that I put my priorities in order.  How do I spend my time?  Is ministry about desk-work?  Is the time I spend driving about town helping me connect with my neighbours?  The question is less about my exercise, and more about joining God in the work he’s calling me to.  How do I stay healthy in the work I do?

An article in the Fall 2010 edition of Neue magazine says this,

“From obesity to depression, clergy burnout has become a major concern.  A Duke University report found that in teh Evangelical Lutheran Church alone, 69 percent of ministers are obese, 64 percent have high blood pressure and 13 percent take anti-depressants.  Of all Christian clergy, 76 percent were overweight – 15 percent higher than the general US population.  With ministers working up to 60 hours a week, experts say they must make room for sabbatical, Sabbath days and healthy habits.”

Do you think there is a connection between the overall health of our pastors and the health of our churches?  Thoughts?


Elements of Renewal – Keeping The Main Thing The Main Thing

January 6, 2011

At Advent there is a conversation that seems to keep coming up. What are we really about? The answer is fairly obvious. We are about discipleship and helping people grow in their discipleship. Now this involves many things, such as sharing the gospel, justice, care for each other, worship etc. At it heart though it is about placing Christ as the centre of everything we do. It is amazing though how easy we get distracted from this.

Just over the past several months we have been distracted by worrying kids being noisy in worship, parking, who can use the church when, coffee making, the debate over same-sex blessing, broken photocopiers . . . The list could go on. There are even more subtle and seductive distractions. Things like focusing on getting more people, bigger budgets, better programs and simple human politics. These are things that need to be attended to,  but if focused on corrupt.

If we are to be renewed, Christ must be the centre of what we do, and discipleship must be the central things that we develop, otherwise any renewal we experience is only a poor illusion. So with so many distractions how do we keep the main thing the main thing? That is one key to renewal. We are starting by asking a simple question when we make decisions. “Where is Christ in this?”  If you have ideas about how we can keep the main thing central. Please share.