Wednesday, 14 December 2011

On Being A Pastor

Being a pastor is not a job, it is a way of life.

'I can be hired to do a job, paid a fair wage if I do it, dismissed if I don't.  But I can't be hired to be a pastor, for my primary responsibility is not to the people I serve but to the God I serve...In our present culture the sharp distinction between a job and a vocation is considerably blurred.  How do I, as a pastor, prevent myself from thinking of my work as a job that I get paid for, a job that is assigned to me by my denomination, a job that I am expected to do to the satisfaction of my congregation?  How do I stay attentive to and listening to the call that got me started in this way of life - not a call to make the church attractive and useful..., not a call to help people feel good about themselves and have a good life, not a call to use my considerable gifts and fulfil myself, but a call like Abraham's "to set out for a place...not knowing where he was going," a call to deny myself and take up my cross and follow Jesus, a call like Jonah's to "go at once to Nineveh, "a city he detested, a call like Paul's to "get up and enter the city and you will be told what to do"?

How do I keep the immediacy and authority of God's call in my ears when an entire culture, both secular and ecclesial, is giving me a job description?  How do I keep the calling, the vocation, of pastor from being drowned out by job descriptions, gussied up in glossy challenges and visions and strategies, clamouring incessantly for my attention?'  Eugene Peterson, The Pastor p 165

I am a pastor, a minister of the gospel.

I am not a business man.

I am not a strategist.

I am not called to be successful.

I am not called to be powerful.

I am not called to run a business, make money, plan strategies, do five point plans or be ambitious.

I am called to be pastor, a minister of the gospel.  I am called to be a friend, a servant, a sign of love and voice of hope.  I am called to love, care and support people.  I am called to help the helpless and be a person of peace and justice.  I am called to be person who puts relationship and people first.

I am called to love and worship God with all that I am and walk with Him in obedience, faithfulness and love.  I am called to be a blessing in what He is already doing.  I am called to share His Story through the life of the church, inviting people to become a part of the Great Story.

I am a pastor, a minister of the Gospel.  

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Junia Is Not Alone - A Book about woman leaders

I have begun reading Junia Is Not Alone by Scot McKnight: Breaking our silence about women in the Bible and the church today.

It is excellent.

The book contests that woman in the Bible and throughout church history have been overlooked, neglected and left out of our retelling of the Grand Story.

Junia is a woman apostle who is mentioned in Romans 16:7, 'Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.'

Now throughout church history woman have been told that they cannot be teachers within the church because that is a role that is exclusively for men.  It is argued that apostles are only men.  In the New Testament and early church apostles taught the Scriptures, planted churches, evangelised, discipled and were key to the life and growth of the early church.  Many have argued that this was a male only office.

Junia was a woman.  However somewhere in church history Junia was turned into JuniaS.  Junias is a man's name.  And so those who promote male only eldership and teaching have partly been arguing from Romans 16:7 believing that Junias was a correct translation.  McKnight shows that it is a mistranslation and that the New Testament Greek shows it actually to be Junia and the early Greek speaking church fathers always translated Romans 16:7 as Junia, a woman.  A woman apostle.  A woman apostle who is outstanding among the apostles.

I haven't read it all but it seems that McKnight is calling the contemporary church to repent of its mistreatment of woman.  Many churches today still do not think woman should teach in church or have the 'eldership' role or be Ministers or Bishops.  This book goes a long way to debunking that notion and proving from the Bible, through not only Junia but many other notable woman, teaches that woman should be in these roles.  If we are to be faithful to Scripture and the will of God, then woman MUST be in these roles.  The church must wake up, repent and sort itself out so that woman are no longer silenced and ignored.

Not only that but we must encourage our daughters, sisters, granddaughters, mothers, grandmothers and woman throughout the church to lay hold of God's call in their lives and pursue it without hindrance.  We must tell stories of the amazing woman of faith who have been silenced in church history.  We must teach about those amazing woman in the Bible whom God used.  We must readdress the balance and make sure woman are being encouraged, helped and supported to be the leaders that God has called them to be.

I'm looking forward to reading the rest of it.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Joseph, a man of faith

At the beginning of this time of Advent, this time of waiting for the birth of Christ and looking forward to the return of the Crucified, Risen and Ascended Christ, I have been reflecting and reading the accounts of Jesus' birth in the gospels.

This man seriously stepped up and acted with real integrity, godliness, faithfulness and honesty in what must have been extraordinarily difficult, confusing and scary circumstances.

It made me reflect on our own society and the how we today could learn so much from the character and behaviour of Joseph.

It made me think about how he didn't cry that he was a victim and throw out his dummy and walk away.

It made me think how he saw the need to be a man, not a boy, and act with honesty and integrity.

It made me think how he did what ever he could to protect Mary and Jesus, how went to great lengths to ensure their safety and to live within the will and heart of God.

I see in Joseph a man who put the needs and love of others ahead of himself.

I get concerned when society gets into the blame game and we always see ourselves as victims.

I get concerned when church lacks integrity and honesty and we don't speak truthfully and honestly about who we are and who God is.

I get concerned when church gets turned into a marketing machine, when woman are sidelined, when men won't grow up, when the gospel is not preached, when selfish desires are put ahead and above the community.

At the Christmas time the church and the community can learn much from the story of Joseph and his response to a terrifying, unique and history changing event.  HIs story enables us to see what truth, honesty, authenticity and faithfulness looks like.  We see love in action.  And that is a valuable and needed truth to hold onto this Christmas time.