Surf’s up on religious doubt. We’ve heard about millenials leaving the church in droves (although—trust me—young folk are not alone in disenchantment with organized religion), the spiritual-but-not-religious, the backlash against SBNRs, and atheists holding Sunday go-to meetings. Now we are turning to the Janus of doubt/faith.
In the past year or so, we have started using the term "faith formation" at my congregation. In the past, we talked about "Christian education," or we talked about "Sunday school" or "confirmation." Or maybe, "adult study." Words like that.
Solvitur Ambulando, “it is solved by walking.” I first encountered this phrase in Thomas Long’s book What Shall We Say: Evil, Suffering, and the Crisis of Faith. (I recommend this book to everyone who asks and even to those who don’t ask; it is that good.)
An interim ministry position is a funny gig. The Interim is not called but hired. S/he is not installed, not permanent, and often not paid as much as the “permanent” (or “settled”) pastor. I knew early on that interim work is viewed as a second-tier career track when a guy at a nursing home said, “You’re a pretty good preacher. I’ll bet you could be a real minister.” I didn’t bother to tell him I’ve been a “real minister” for 25 years.
In his role as prophet to the nation, Martin Luther King, Jr. drew on the ancient wisdom of both the Greeks and Hebrews. From Aristotle he learned that the character of an orator is of prime importance, but not in the ways we moderns might imagine.
I once had occasion to meet with a potential confirmation student at a Subway restaurant. He was 6 feet tall, dressed like a punk and played in a rock band. I fed him a sandwich and tried to explain why he should invest two years of Sunday afternoons studying the art of Christian discipleship.
In ministry, there are sometimes moments when something unexpected happens, something that spills out of our careful containers of planning and order, something that points simply, poignantly, and powerfully to the hope of the gospel in a way that no eloquent sermon or finely crafted liturgy ever could. I love these moments. Even when I don’t notice them.