At a recent clergy gathering, one of the other preachers said that the problem with the church is that we aren’t asking the right questions. He said that the only question we should ask is how many people we have brought to Christ this year. When he said that, everyone sort of turned their heads and looked at him sort of funny, not sure what he was actually saying.
I said no to something recently, something pretty cool. Not because I wasn’t interested, or because it wouldn’t be beneficial in some ways. I just knew that saying “yes” meant I could not do that, and probably many other things, as well as I should. So I said no.
At first they sounded to me like the names of medieval cricket teams, but it turns out that mendicants and anchorites were actually two different types of ancient monastics. Mendicantswere nomadic monks who never acquired property. They travelled around and lived by begging from strangers.
Since I am curious about new versions of the Bible, I picked up a copy of The Books of the Bible, an edition without section headings or chapter and verse divisions. Simply the plain text, in the NIV translation, in a single column format.
This past week I have shifted into a new phase of ministry, which has necessitated saying goodbye to the congregation that I have served with joy over the past ten years. I was sad to leave, but excited for new possibilities.
I was especially good at holding my emotions together over the entire transition, and though I am notorious for “losing it” in worship at the first sign of sentimentality, I held it together through all of my lasts—until it came to the last moment I would be at the church with my now eight-year-old son.
If you graduated from college, you know the drill. Every so often a magazine arrives in your mailbox, full of glossy photos of happy, successful people. Some of them might be the professors who taught you oh so many years ago. Some of them might be silver-haired philanthropists who are leaving a legacy for their beloved alma mater. And some of them are younger than you. . .
A while back I spent a good chunk of a week at a denominational pastors' retreat in the Alberta foothills just north of Calgary. One of the things we did during our worship times each day was spend some time “dwelling in the Word.” The specific text we focused on each session was Luke 7:36-50, the story where Jesus is anointed by a “sinful woman” at the home of Simon the Pharisee. It’s a scandalous story—a woman of ill repute showing up a bunch of religious elites, crashing their party with her sensuous, inappropriate display of penitence, love, and devotion.
A couple of articles are making the rounds among my friends right now. The first is this Century article by Craig Barnes (the new president of Princeton Seminary), who provides his reflections on why pastors cannot (or should not) be friends with parishioners. Of course there can be close and intimate relationships, and pastor and flock are friendly to one another. But Barnes argues that the clergy role is such that true mutual friendship is impossible, or at least inadvisable.
The second article is about a pastor of a large church in Charlotte who’s on a leave of absence at a treatment center after struggling with depression and alcohol abuse.