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.
November 1, 2011
I was just sitting with one of my parishioners, working on how we can rework an old website so that it can be more interactive. Before this I was visiting a parishioner who had been in hospital. Before that I was leading a bible study and before that a staff meeting. While I did use a few bits of knowledge that I gained in my seminary education, I must admit that both what I learned in seminary classroom and and the very setting of a classroom somehow antiquated or perhaps out of touch with the reality of contemporary pastoral ministry that I experienced in this one day. The skills that I used today involved working with and leading a team, facilitating discussions, creating a healing relationship and technologically based communication. I must admit that I am not sure how any of these skill can even be taught in the setting of a traditional classroom. Perhaps it is time to not only rethink what is taught in seminaries, but even how we teach. What if seminary education was moved primarily out of classrooms and was instead in sites of practice. What if the focus shifted from knowledge learned to skills and competencies gained? This is now a question that many seminaries are exploring. If you want to read more you can read this article in the Washington Post.