As boy I had a sunny disposition. For the most part, people around me reflected back to me warm affirmation. Our home was largely free from conflict; I cannot remember a single instance when someone in my family raised a voice in anger. I always had a close circle of friends, and although we would often tease each other, we all knew that it was done with affection. I approached the world with an openness as wide and trusting as the outstretched arms of someone anticipating an embrace. In other words, I was completely unprepared to deal with the criticism that comes with being a pastor.
At the annual banquet of the University of Chicago Divinity School, first-year student Rebecca Anderson knocks ’em dead with a stand-up comedy routine. But then she should: she was previously a stand-up comic. “When I tell people here I grew up in a fundamentalist family, they treat me like I just got out of a POW camp. 'Oh my God,' they say, 'Are you OK?'"
No one can accuse Dorothy Bass and Craig Dykstra of thinking small. In this volume they tackle the macro questions: What is life abundant? How can we live it more fully? How does the church foster it? How do pastors lead it and lead others to it?
In a time when people are profoundly confused about fundamental identity issues and desperately trying to construct life as best they can, it is critical that pastors recover the poetic dimension of their ministries. What the congregation needs is not a strategist to help them form another plan for achieving a desired image of life, but a poet who looks beneath the desperation to recover the mystery of what it means to be made in God’s image.
Conversation must be private and pastor must be acting as spiritual advisor
Sep 23, 2008
A conversation with a religious leader is not protected from being revealed in court unless it occurred in private and the leader was acting as a spiritual adviser, a New Jersey appeals court has ruled.
Worship is over and I am standing in the doorway shaking hands. In front of me is a couple I do not recall seeing before. I say, “Good morning! I’m Martin Copenhaver.” By my manner and my tone of voice you might think that I am greeting long-lost friends, rather than introducing myself to these people for the first time.
Martin Copenhaver’s insightful “Handshake ritual” catches the preacher’s attention. The more I am in this business the more ambivalent I feel about the traditional ritual of greeting worshipers after the service.
There is no end in sight to the mainline denominations’ debates over whether gays and lesbians will be fully integrated into the life and leadership of their churches. While that debate is important, so too is the need for congregations to meet the immediate pastoral needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, as well as people who are questioning their sexual orientation.
Recent surveys have indicated that clergy are generally quite satisfied with their profession. But what about the men and women who are in seminary or who are fresh from seminary and face the demands of congregational service or the challenges of other ministries? How do they feel about ministry?