I’ve been an associate minister for two years. I love associate ministry. While I understand that it is a stepping stone for a lot of people, I feel deeply called to this role--both in general and in the specific context of the church I serve.
I used to be in solo ministry. When I made the transition, there were surprisingly few bumps--in large part due to my wonderful colleagues. And one of the big differences between solo and staff ministry is the increase in opportunities to work collaboratively.
My church's adult Sunday school class ended up doing a six-week study of one of John Ortberg’s inspirational and easy-to-read books. A member of the class loved the book and wanted to share and teach it—and who can argue with six weeks off as a teacher?
Before that, we’d been through many of N.T. Wright’s “For Everyone” study guides, and we'd organized a successful unit on Islam and Christianity, taught well by an instructor from our county college. We’ve read Adam Hamilton; we've added online conversation to our Lenten study. Now what?
A woman came to my house recently whose
husband I had helped put in jail the day before. One day she felt afraid of his
violence. The next she felt ambivalent about her choice, and she wanted my help
to get him out of jail. While I had helped her call the police, I wasn't
willing to pay his bond.
Fresh out of graduate school, in my first faculty appointment as a professor of English, I was invited to teach an undergraduate course on “The Bible as Literature.” I’ve never stopped teaching it. For over three decades I have had the privilege of guiding students in the encounter of the biblical texts.
The New Interpreter's Study Bible
Walter J. Harrelson, ed.
The Jewish Study Bible
Adele Berlin, Marc Zvi Brettler and Michael Fishbane, eds.
A cartoon in the New Yorker shows a man making inquiry at the information counter of a large bookstore. The clerk, tapping on his keyboard and peering intently into the computer screen, replies, “The Bible? . . . That would be under self-help.”