From this theologian’s perspective, the central challenge for pastoral ministry today concerns the most important mark of good ministry: the ability effectively to mediate faith as an integral way of life to persons, communities and cultures. This has been true throughout history, in every culture and for every community of faith. In our time, however, communities of faith seem to be falling short precisely at this point.
If the number of people actively engaged in religious practices in our nation were the only relevant indicator, one could think that on the whole communities of faith were as successful today in mediating faith as a way of life as they were decades or even a century ago. And yet the faith that people embrace is, arguably, shaping their lives less and less. The faith seems not so much an integral way of life as an energizing and consoling aura added to the business of a life shaped by factors other than faith.