This two-part audio series “Searching for Greatness in Ministry,” is taken from Zack’s recent visit with pastors and ministry leaders who participate in the Spurgeon Fellowship in Portland, Oregon. Out of his daily life in local pastoral ministry, Zack seeks to encourage us in our common vocation in Jesus.
“Ah, look at all the lonely people,” the band sang in the old song.“Where do they all come from?” This question hums with haunted melody, as the song searches out the lonely lives of a priest, his congregant and the church they both serve. Why is it that those who give their days to a vocation charged with the enjoyment, love and glory of God remain so vulnerable to the loneliness and isolation that any human being can feel? Anton Chekhov’s short story, The Bishop, helps us. Without spoiling the story, I’d like to tell you why. Continue reading “Why are we Lonely in Ministry?”
This gifted writer, has as an atheist, given those of us who serve in Christian ministry, a rare gift. Without spoiling this novel for those who’d like to read it, I’d like to share a few reasons why pastors and ministry leaders are wise to notice the mirror Faber offers us.
In part one, we talked about how volunteers come with a story. This story shapes their expectations more than they realize. To pastor volunteers begins with managing expectations and helping future volunteers see the beauty as well as the difficulties they may unwittingly bring to a team.
Unwisely, Santa offered a teddy bear to James, unaware that he had been mauled by a grizzly earlier that year.
Receive an email titled, “concerned” or an invitation for dinner in order “to talk,” and a seasoned pastor can suddenly resemble little James in the cartoon above. So it is when someone risks making an appointment with the pastor, risks joining a small group, risks seeking a role to play as a volunteer.
Two dear friends of mine reject the God of the Bible because of passages like this one. It don’t blame them. Over the years I too have grown fatigued with callous doctrinal academics or simplistic Christian clichés. I feel like a child trying to describe mysteries, like an adult grappling with God amid the beauties and true horrors in the world. Continue reading “Does God Need Anger Management?”
“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Jesus)
When Jesus talks about some people not entering heaven, some of us feel repulsed. We are tired of intolerance of any kind, but especially intolerance done in God’s name. Jesus just sounds like one more bigoted religious figure power hungry to create barriers between persons. Too many of us have known this kind of pain. And yet, have you ever noticed that if someone comes to your house . . . Continue reading “Isn’t Jesus Intolerant?”
“I am the way, and the truth and the life, No one comes to the Father except through me” (Jesus)
Jesus sounds narrow minded and arrogant. He suggests that we locate God through no other way but His. This kind of exclusive claim disgusts many of us. We are wore out with the mean dismissal of human beings on the basis of our believing differently from one another. No wonder we feel this way. So many have claimed that they alone possess what is true, that a great deal of harm and hurt has resulted over the years. And yet, despite this terrible harm that arrogance in the name of God has caused us human beings, it startles us, doesn’t it, to admit how important it is on some occasions to give thanks for what is exclusive? Continue reading “Is Jesus Arrogant? Musings on Exclusivity”
Lingering among silences makes us feel like toddlers entering the nursery on Sunday mornings. When our parent drops us off, we feel abandoned. We either tantrum about, or we cling to anything or anyone that promises to hold us.