Category Archives: Ministry

Timely Quote

While preparing for my sermon I read the following.

Today people are fundamentally consumers: they want what they want when they want it, even in the church. If they do not like what is happening or what they hear, they leave and start shopping for a better deal. Meanwhile, the pressure is constantly on preachers to increase attendance, to raise the budget, to grow a church–to do whatever it takes to improve market share. Be nice; be funny; make promises; do not offend. There is an inordinate desire for approval, for applause, for appreciation on the part of pastors today. To Paul’s queston, “Am I seeking human approval, … am I trying to please people?” (Gal 1.10), many preachers today would have to answer, in all honesty, yes. When preachers are captive to public opinion, when churches too easily become purveyors of gospel gimmicks, offering the religious goods and services people want, what is sacrificed is the ability to be a slave of Christ in service to his unchanging gospel.

–Heidi Husted Armstrong

“Galatians 1:1-12,” Feasting on the Word, Year C, Volume 3, pg. 90.

I am not planning to use the quote in my sermon because it does not fit the congregational context. I’m the visiting preacher and the church spends most of its energies reaching out to the local deaf community and African refugees. Yet the quote resonates with other voices I am hearing lately. For example, Chris Seidman at the Branch Church was a guest lecturer in my class on practical theology. I asked him to talk about his ministerial identity and relate how it connects to practice. He spoke about Jesus’ baptism and how Jesus began his own ministry after the word from heaven, “This is my son whom I am well pleased.” Chris spoke about how ministry springs forth from the blessing and grace of God and not from the approval of people. The examples he gave convicted us all.

I am part of a team that facilitates healthy matches between churches and ministers. It is satisfying work. Yet there are times when both parties would do well to commit themselves to the ability to be a slave of Christ in service to his unchanging gospel. The church might actually get smaller if such matters were practiced. As Fred Craddock often noted, It is not bad preachers that people will not listen to; it may just be very good ones.

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Filed under Lectionary Text, Ministry, Practical Theology, Preaching, Reflections

Beautiful Churches Built on Sacred Ground

Recently, I wrote a blog post for Charis. The link is found here.

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New Publication

THE EUCHARIST IN AN UNARTICULATED WORLD

The article that I blogged about a few years back is finally published. You can read it here.

Abstract

Ethnographic data from the lived experiences of teenagers participating in the weekly observance of the Eucharist provided rich data for an application of Bakhtinian approaches to discourse in order to inform current practice. Bakhtin’s understanding of dialogism and heteroglossia asserts that all discourse communities are located in historical situations that involve complex interactions. Each utterance takes meaning from its “actual social life.” Bakhtin gives priority to utterances that occur in context and focuses on the intentional negotiation of meaning and interpretation between author and reader, or, in this case, researcher, participant, and community. The research provides opportunity for teenagers to “answer with their lives” the meaning of the Eucharist.

KEYWORD: Eucharist. Bakhtin. Dialogism. Heteroglossia.

“The Eucharist in an Unarticulated World.” In Bakhtin and the Eucharist. Edited by Angelo Cardita, Institute for Bakhtin Studies. INTERAÇÕES: Cultura e Comunidade 10.18 (Ago./Set. 2015): 140-161. (See http://periodicos.pucminas.br/index.php/interacoes/article/view/P.1983-2478.2015v10n18p140 ).

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The Effective Practice of Ministry

I recently was interviewed about  “The Effective Practice of Ministry,” dedicated to Dr. Charles Siburt.  You can watch my interview with highlights on the book here.

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