- Pastoral Identity, including self-care.
- Theological understanding of ministry.
- Vision for ministry
- Implications (what courses or training do we need to take in light of what we talked about in the paper)
I'm coming to understand more that ministry happens where it happens, and that more often than not, the modern church with its social club mentality is more of a hindrance than a help to creating disciples of Jesus Christ. Even a good modern church that is missionally-minded, one where disciples are made, and one that takes seriously the call to transform lives and the world...doesn't jive with what I see myself doing as a pastor. We are really taught to be chaplains in ministry - caring for those in the congregation, trying to bring more people (and more money) into the church, and trying to teach and nurture them so that they can participate more in the life of the church.
I wrestle with this. I don't think pastors and the church should simply create church-goers, and equipping the laity for ministry shouldn't just be about mentoring people so that they can organize church suppers. The church exists for the sake of those who are not a part of it - those on the margins of our communities, those who need help - because that's who Jesus would be hanging out with, hoping to transform their lives.
I have been thinking a lot lately about what it means to have the seed of the gospel planted in a community or culture and have it grow. We are called to incarnate the gospel wherever we are, so the church in one place may look a lot different than the church in another community. We are called to be relational, as Jesus was relational, and our primary relationship is our individual and collective relationship with Jesus. We are called to be missional, as we are to be sent out into the world as opposed to waiting for people to come to us. Jesus called us to go out and make disciples. There is nothing about people coming in and becoming church-goers that give out of their pocketbook and sit and attend a worship "serve-us" for an hour.
So why I have to sit here and attempt to fill 10 pages what I can articulate in the space of a couple pages is beyond me. Though it has gotten me thinking that our modern church is pretty sick, and unless we figure out how to incarnate the gospel in postmodernity (whether that means incorporating more emerging elements into our churches, planting more churches with pastors who don't have a modern mindset, or figuring out something else entirely), our denomination is doomed.
Wesley was really on to something back in the 18th century, with his radical call to discipleship, service to those on the margins, and covenanting together for mutual growth and accountability. I may be a bit harsh in saying this, but if we can't even follow Wesley's example, Jesus' example might be a little too much for us to handle.