July 22, 2016

The ministry of the heard Word of God

This post continues a series examining key points of Andrew Purves' book Reconstructing Pastoral Theology: A Christological Foundation. For other posts in the series, click a number: 1, 2, 3, 4. 5, 6, 7.

Abide with Me by Liz Lemon Swindle
(used with artist's permission)
We looked last time at the ministry of the spoken Word of God (in preaching and pastoral care). Now we'll look at the ministry of the heard Word of God. Jesus is the focus in both, for as Purves notes, as the incarnate Word of God, Jesus "not only speaks God's Word to and for us...as a man he hears and receives God's Word on our behalf" (p. 166). This is truly good news, because left to our own devices in either aspect of ministry, we are cast back on ourselves---left helpless and without hope.

Jesus: speaking God and hearing man

As Purves notes, Jesus is "speaking God and a hearing man, and this for us." Indeed, the gospel declares that the God-man Jesus, being our representative and substitute, both speaks and hears (and in hearing obeys) God's Word on our behalf. That being so, "at all points the ministry of the gospel is a ministry of God's grace" (p. 167). Some object to this teaching, wrongly thinking it means there is no calling (imperative) for us as persons to proclaim and hear/obey God's Word. Purves is well aware of this objection and gives this response:
That which has been heard vicariously [by Christ on our behalf] can by God's empowering Spirit be heard by us for what it is, the Word of God with its claims upon [our] life. Yet even then, let there be no doubt, that later hearing is itself a hearing "in Christ," a hearing, that is, in which [the individual] person participates in that which Christ has already heard on her behalf... Our human hearing of the Word of God always happens in union with the actuality of Christ's hearing for us, so that the hearing of the Word of God is, as with everything else, a gracious gift of God in and through Jesus Christ. (p. 168)

The basis of our assurance

It is on this basis that we gain true assurance of salvation, for salvation, from first to last, is God's work on our behalf, not our own work. Purves comments:
While a [personal] response is called for, we are saved by God in, through, and as Jesus Christ. This means that the hope of salvation rests in God's goodness, not in a required response or behavior... (p. 169) 
This is good news for those who are cognitively impaired (like who suffer with Alzheimer's disease, or for babes in arm). It is also good news for the rest of us, particularly when we take seriously how deep the "stain of sin" affects us all, for  the effects of the fall are truly pervasive.

Is this universalism?

Don't misunderstand Purves' point here. He is not teaching universalism. As he is careful to note, in the case of those who in Christ can hear and respond (and thus have response-ability) a response is called for and by the Spirit is enabled. Nevertheless, we all (no matter what our limitations) can, and should, rest assured that the imperfection (feebleness) of our response does not jeopardize our salvation, for in the end, Christ has heard God's Word and on our behalf has already said "yes." As pastors we can, and with confidence should proclaim this word of comfort. It truly is affirmation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

But what about faith?

Lord I Believe! by Liz Lemon Swindle
(used with artist's permission)
Unfortunately, especially since the Reformation, the Latin theological tradition (North American Evangelicalism being a primary example) has tended to emphasize heavily the faith of the believer, which has been elevated to a precondition for salvation. But if that is the case, how is a person to know if they have enough of the right kind of faith to be reassured that they truly are saved? This is a huge pastoral issue. Sadly, the "bottom line" of salvation for many is this factor of human decision---a paradigm that, according to Purves, leads to "a religion of...conditionalism" (p. 170). He comments:
A fully evangelical [Christ- and gospel-centered] perspective on faith does not cast persons back upon themselves, whether upon religious experiences of some kind or the assent given to statements of belief. Here, as at all other points of Christian faith and experience, the primary reference is to Jesus Christ as the one who stands in for us, doing for us what we do not and cannot do for ourselves. In this case, Jesus Christ is the one who, in the flesh of our humanity, hears and responds disbelievingly and faithfully to the Word of God. Before we have faith, he is the believing human into whose faith we are engrafted, so that at the last we are cast upon his faithfulness and not our own. This is not to dispute the faith that grows within, which is the Spirit's gift. Neither is it to say that in the freedom of Christ's faith for us to which we in the Spirit are engrafted we may not with perversity and ingratitude walk away from faith in unbelief to our judgment. This is surely a great mystery. Nevertheless, the whole movement of the gospel is away from us and toward Christ, in whom we have faith. Faith involves our trust in God's gift rather than confidence in our choices. (p. 171) 
In the end, "our faith" as we might refer to it, is not our own, but what God, by grace, has done in our life as a special gift of the Spirit who joins us to Jesus, including to his faith (faithfulness) on our behalf. "In union with Christ, that which is his becomes ours" (p. 171).

What should we do as pastoral ministers?

Think now about our response to all this as pastors and ministry leaders. Our calling is not to "throw people back on themselves" (as in urging them to "work up" faith), but to encourage them to throw themselves on Christ---to trust in him fully, including relying on his faith, not their own. Remember the statement in the Gospel of Mark: "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief" (Mark 9:24 KJV). What we do in ministry must always be shaped by the Christian truth that in all things we, and those we serve, do not stand before God on the strength of our own piety, good works or faith. Rather, because the Holy Spirit joins us to Jesus we share in everything that he is, has done and will yet do---all involving both hearing and obeying the Word of God on our behalf. Ministers of Christ, I implore you---proclaim this gospel truth to your people and then minister accordingly.

July 8, 2016

The ministry of the spoken Word of God

This post continues a series examining key points of Andrew Purves' book Reconstructing Pastoral Theology: A Christological Foundation. For other posts in the series, click a number: 1, 2, 3, 4. 5, 6, 8.

Lost and Found  by Greg Olsen (used with permission
As noted by Purves, the pastoral ministry of Jesus has four aspects: 1) the ministry of the Word of God, 2) the ministry of the grace of God, 3) the ministry of the presence of God, and 4) the ministry of the reign of God. This post begins looking at the first aspect, which Purves views as inherently "apostolic and priestly... grounded at all points in the vicarious humanity of Christ and enabled... through our union with Christ by the power and act of the Holy Spirit" (p. 156). He also notes that Jesus' ministry of the Word of God is threefold: 1) speaking the Word, 2) hearing the Word, and 3) obeying (responding to) the Word. This time we'll look at what Purves considers the two principal aspects of speaking the Word: preaching and pastoral care.

The ministry of the spoken Word of God in preaching

As pastors, teachers and other pastoral ministers, when we think of preaching, we often think of preaching techniques and tools Though these are helpful, our principal concern must be to participate with Jesus in the proclamation of the Word of God as it is addressed to our audience (typically a congregation in the case of preaching). In this proclamation, our primary goal is not to illustrate the Word or to show its application, but to proclaim it clearly in all its inherent power. Purves comments: "Through union with Christ, the proclamation of Christ Jesus as the living Word of God to and for us speaks on its own terms as Christ's Word" (p. 156). The proclamation of the Word is God's gift to the congregation---a gift "not within our power to engender or manipulate...a happening that is not ours to control" (p. 156). As the Apostle Paul discovered, the proclamation of the Word (which for him had to do with announcing the Lordship of Christ) is ... 
...the means by which the living God reached out with his love and changed the hearts and lives of men and women.... When Paul announced [the] gospel message, it carried its own weight, its own authority, quite independently of the rhetorical or linguistic skill of the herald. (pp. 156-7, quoting N.T. Wright)
Since, through our union with Christ, we share in the life of Christ, the sermon is "an enfleshment in speech today of the one historical and always eternal and living Word of God." The sermon is thus a "theological act...whereby God speaks [his] personal and actual Word of address to the people gathered through the voice of the minister" (p. 157). Purves emphasizes that preaching, at its core, is the "announcement of the gospel... [whereby] the preacher tells about Jesus... as he is attested by Scripture" (p. 157). The content of this gospel message is summed up by Paul in 2 Corinthians 13:14 (NKJV): "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit."

Certainly, preachers should develop their craft in terms of preaching knowledge (eg: homiletics) and skills, but they must always be aware that the power of preaching is not in them, or in technique, but in the Word of God. Thinking otherwise shows "a lack of confidence in the efficacy of Word and sacraments"---the primary means by which Jesus, the living Word of God, is "present with us in truth and power" (p. 159). So let's remember, preachers, that we are called to preach not our message, but the message concerning Jesus (the gospel). As Purves notes, our "homiletical skills must at all points be controlled by the subject matter, the gospel to be proclaimed, that by God's grace is proclaimed, and that is the content of God's address whereby people are brought to faith and into the church" (p. 160). In short let's preach the Word!

The ministry of the spoken Word of God in pastoral care

For Purves, it is vital that we view pastoral care as a principal aspect of Jesus' ministry of the spoken Word of God. Sadly, however, it's often grounded elsewhere---in psychology or certain aspects of sociology, for example. Though these areas of knowledge have their place in informing pastoral care, the basis (ground) of that care must always be joining with Jesus in speaking the Word of God into the lives of those we are called to care for. Purves (at time quoting Eduard Thurneysen) puts it this way:
Pastoral care exists in the church as communication of the Word of God to individuals... [It] can be nothing else than a communication of the Word of God in a particular form. Hence, pastoral care can be concerned with nothing else than the proclamation of forgiveness [justification] and the sanctification of man for God... a conversation in which both parties listen to and respond to the Word of God for it is God's Word alone that ultimately interprets and heals the human situation. (pp. 160, 162)
With this approach to pastoral care, the person we seek to assist is, appropriately "cast back upon Jesus Christ, who comes as he is, the Word of God, attested by Scripture" (p. 162). Our primary job as pastor is not to "fix the problem" of those we serve, but to help them explore their presenting problem in ways that lead to a discussion of the deepest truth about themselves. This discussion thus serves as an "on ramp" to the source of true healing for them, namely their union with Christ. In that way, we are helping our congregants build on the ground of their baptism as we move "the conversation away from inner resources or external fixes to a ground in the gospel" (p. 163).

There are, of course, various human skills that help a pastor enter such deep, gospel-centered conversations with congregants---skills like empathy, sensitivity, focused listening, biblical knowledge, etc. But ultimately, what we do in pastoral care (when it is fully Christian) is to help congregants listen deeply for "a word from the Lord." Indeed, the heart of evangelical pastoral practice is sure knowledge that only Jesus, the living Word of God, is able to reveal and then heal the content of the human heart. This evangelical approach to pastoral care takes seriously at all points that Christ, through his vicarious humanity, is sharing life redemptively with all people. This means that pastors "listen to their people in the context of the Word of God and seek always to return them to that Word" (p. 164).

Pastoral care certainly does take up the understandings and tools presented by psychology, philosophy, sociology, etc.---there is much to be learned in studying these areas of knowledge. However, eventually the Word of God "surpasses these preliminary perspectives" (p. 165). As Thurneysen notes, "Pastoral care built upon the Word of God travels into  territory where psychology cannot go, namely, the ultimate mystery of the human condition and its redemption in, through, and by Jesus Christ (p. 165).

As we lead those we are caring for to Jesus, and to his Word to them, there will oftentimes come a crisis---a decision will be called forth, and that event often will lead to struggle.We as pastors/counselors are there to help them in that time of need, not deliver them from the struggle, but to assist them in this "confrontation from Jesus," for he is the only one who transforms and heals the lost, hurting, and sin-sick. And that, ultimately, is what pastoral care is all about.

So those are key points about the ministry of the spoken Word of God in preaching and pastoral care. Next time we'll look at the ministry of the heard Word of God. Stay tuned. 

July 1, 2016

The missional character of the church

This post continues a series examining key points of Andrew Purves' book Reconstructing Pastoral Theology: A Christological Foundation. For other posts in the series, click a number: 1, 2, 3, 4. 5, 78.

For All Mankind by Liz Lemon Swindle
(used with permission)
Purves now addresses the essential missional character of the church, noting that by our union with Christ, we have both opportunity and the calling as members of the body of Christ (the church), to participate with Jesus our one High Priest, in what he is now doing, by the Spirit, to fulfill the Father's mission to the world.

The broad scope of Christ's mission

That calling, which is for the whole church, involves sharing in what our Lord is doing to redeem every aspect of human existence: spiritual, social, economic, etc. Purves comments on this broad scope of mission:
There are no limits to the compassion God has shown toward the human race in Jesus Christ [thus] there can be no limits upon the scope of the church's mission in union with Christ to the whole of the human family. (p. 102)  
Of course, not every Christian or congregation can share in all aspects of what God, in Christ, by the Spirit, is doing in the world. Our participation will, necessarily, be limited by our spiritual gifts along with God's provision of other mission-critical resources. Nevertheless, the scope of the church's mission to the human race, when considered as a whole, is unlimited, "just as the love God has shown to us in Jesus Christ has no limits" (p. 102).

Our calling to mission includes evangelism

As a case in point, consider the missional activity of evangelism. The church is called to participate with Jesus in what he is doing to reach out to the people of the world who do not yet know his love for them. Understanding that Christ loves and has died to save all people, "nothing could be more inhuman and unloving than to withhold the proclamation of Christ from any of the world's people" (p. 103). Therefore the church is committed to evangelism, though one congregation can not reach all people. It must decide which people it will focus on and how it will go about reaching those particular people. Understanding that such missional activity is imperative, Purves notes that "we must reject [any] non-missional understandings of the church" (p. 103).

On mission in a christological pattern

Purves notes that the church's calling to be on mission with Jesus is not optional---it's a matter of obedience to Christ, who told his disciples, "I am sending you." (John 20:21). We are go where and as he sends us, living out our calling to mission in a pattern of life that is fully christological:
The ministry of Jesus on earth is the "place" where God's ministry in, through and as Jesus Christ intersects with the church to form the church's ministry. Therefore the development of a theology of ministry looks to the Gospel accounts for its content, and Christ's ministry on earth, in which we participate, is given as the christological pattern in such a way that the ministry of the church is correlative to the ministry of Christ.... By its baptism the church is baptized into Christ's own baptism and as such is engrafted into this ministry of Jesus Christ, to share in his life and to be the present form of his ministry on earth. (pp. 124-5)

Participation---not merely imitation

As we've noted before in this series, the ministry of the church is not one of merely imitating Christ, but one of real participation in Christ's ongoing missional activity in the world. This participation is "enabled at all points by the reality and power of [Jesus'] vicarious humanity to which we are joined through the Holy Spirit." As we think through what this means, we will begin to see that our approach to pastoral ministry, "must be converted from pragmatism to sharing in the work or ministry of God in, through and as Jesus Christ" (p. 152). We will realize that Jesus is not a mere point of reference for our ministry, nor a set of principles by which we would govern our ministry. Instead, as Purves notes, Jesus...
...is inherently and irreducibly a practical and personal Truth. Whatever else pastoral work is about, if it would be Christian it concerns directly Jesus Christ as the living and personal Word of God. Pastoral work has no other basis or validation than Jesus Christ; he alone is its self-sufficient basis. (p. 153)

Four aspects of Christ's pastoral ministry

Purves notes that the pastoral ministry of Jesus, into which we are called by the Spirit, has four primary aspects: 1) the ministry of the Word of God, 2) the ministry of the grace of God, 3) the ministry of the presence of God, and 4) the ministry of the reign of God. We'll finish out this series in Purves' book by examining the implications of all four to pastoral ministry in our day.

June 23, 2016

What is the ministry of the church?

This post continues a series examining key points of Andrew Purves' book Reconstructing Pastoral Theology: A Christological Foundation. For other posts in the series, click a number: 1, 2, 3, 4678.

Friends by Liz Lemon Swindle
(used with permission)
Having noted that authentic (fully Christian) pastoral ministry is gospel- and trinitarian-shaped, Purves examines what that ministry looks like in "practical" terms. He begins by reminding us that pastoral ministry is "empowerment for faithfulness," which God does in and through us by "joining us to the faithfulness of Jesus" (p. 43). He also reminds us that our obedience to God, expressed as ministry, involves "sharing by the Holy Spirit in Christ's [own] obedience" as our High Priest (p. 44). In making these points, Purves wants us to understand that ministry is not something that is up to us, for "Jesus Christ is the primary minister (Hebrews 8:2), and our ministry, [being] derivative, [is] participation in the apostolic and priestly ministry [of Jesus]" (p. 44).

It looks like this

But what does our participation look like? Purves replies by noting that rather than being an obligation that involves mechanical application of pragmatic ministry models, our participation with Christ in ministry is gospel. It's a gift of grace, lived out freely and creatively in a Christological pattern. It means sharing ministry with Jesus in ways that are in sync with (or we might say "entrained with") the patterns (or we might say the "rhythms") of what Christ, by his Spirit, is actually doing in ministering the healing grace of God to a sin-sick world.

Jesus: God's word to man and man's obedient response to God

Fundamental to understanding the Christological pattern of Jesus' ongoing gospel ministry is recognizing that he (the incarnate Son of God) comes to us both as God's saving Word to humankind (gospel); and humankind's perfect, obedient response to that Word (gospel-shaped ministry). With that in mind, we can begin to grasp the truth that the Holy Spirit enables us to participate in Jesus' twofold ministry that is both apostolic and priestly (Hebrews 3:1). When Jesus says he is "the way, and the truth, and the life" he has in mind not only faith and piety, but also ministry, "For it is in union with Christ that we can walk the way, know the truth, and live the life of those who serve in the name of Christ" (p. 45).

That said, it's vital that in approaching ministry we not throw ourselves, and those we mentor and supervise, "back on themselves." We do that when we fail to understand that as ministers of Jesus we do not heal the sick, forgive sin, raise the dead or even comfort the bereaved. Jesus, by the Spirit, is the one who accomplishes these ministries through his word (proclamation) and deeds (acts). Our calling is to be actively present with him in the lives of others as he accomplishes this gospel-shaped ministry.

Purves then proceeds to examine various tasks of pastoral ministry from this vital, realist perspective. He does so by reminding us to look to "what it is that the Spirit of the risen Christ actually affects in and through the church at the point of the exercise of his priesthood." That priesthood has ministries that are both diaconal (diakonia) and eucharistic (eucharistia)

Diaconal ministry

Jesus Washing Peter's Feet by Ford Maddox Brown
(public domain via Wikimedia Commons)
Jesus' diaconal ministry is sacrificial servanthood lived out in accordance with Jesus' gospel pattern seen in John 13:14-15. There Jesus the servant washes feet, and calls his followers (fellow ministers) to join him in so doing. As ministers of and with Christ, we minister "according to the pattern laid down by Christ," in a ministry of "personal sacrificial sharing in Christ's self-sacrifice and self-offering to God for the sake of the world" (p. 100).

Eucharistic ministry

Jesus' eucharistic ministry is seen most clearly in the Lord's Supper (the Eucharist) where Christ comes to us in both word and the elements, "bringing God to the people" and taking "the sacrifice of praise and in his own name... offering it as rational worship to God (Romans 12:2)." Purves continues: "In the Eucharist Christ is truly present with his people and by the Spirit binds them to himself in bread and wine and to his priestly self-offering to the Father" (p. 100).

As those who officiate (preside) at the Lord's Table, we do so knowing Jesus is truly present---he is the host (not we), and we, as officiants, minister to the people of God alongside their Lord. To serve well with Christ at his Table certainly requires that we be appropriately called and suitably trained, but service as an officiant is not exclusive to a certain class of Christians as though they were the ones in control of the Table because Christ is absent. Purves comments:
No one by virtue of gender or race can be excluded from sharing in Christ's ministry, eucharistic or diaconal. The limiting of eucharistic ministries to men only is a deep and sinful violation of Christ's encompassing and inclusive priesthood given for all in incarnation and atonement. (p. 102)
Next time we'll take a look at other aspects of the ongoing ministry (mission) of Christ to which we are called and equipped by the Spirit for active participation with Jesus in the world.

June 16, 2016

Trinitarian-shaped pastoral ministry

This post continues a series examining key points of Andrew Purves' book Reconstructing Pastoral Theology: A Christological Foundation. For other posts in the series, click a number: 1, 2, 3. 5678.

Icon of the Trinity by Rublev (public domain)
Purves views the doctrine of the Trinity as "the basic framework of meaning within which we live our lives as Christians" (p. 30). Many readers of this blog devote their lives to pastoral ministry, a calling Purves addresses in noting that "the doctrine of the Trinity is the grammar of all talk of God [including] every theological understanding of Christian ministry" (p. 31).

Rather than mere theory with little practical relevance, Purves views the doctrine of the Trinity as the principle means of understanding all of life (ministry included) in the context of the reality of 1) who God is (in his being and doing), 2) who we are as beings created in God's image, and 3) how we may live (including pastoral ministry) in ways aligned with who God is and who he has made us to be. This realist theological understanding is beautifully expressed by the apostle Paul in the Trinitarian benediction with which he ends one of his epistles:
 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen. (2 Corinthians 13:14 NKJV)
Utilizing the Son-Father-Spirit sequence of this benediction as his template, Purves goes on to discuss pastoral ministry with a "Trinitarian shape." Let's follow along.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ, who in his own person is the grace of God, is the heart and core of a pastoral ministry that is truly Trinitarian-shaped. Purves reminds us that Jesus, as the "actuality" of God (Colossians 2:9), is "the reality of grace" (p. 32). Jesus is grace incarnate---a grace that is fundamentally Trinitarian in that it "implies both the whole of God [who is Father, Son and Spirit] and the full message of the gospel. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ is the mission of God to save" (p. 33). As the mission of God, Jesus comes to us "full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). Grace is who and what Jesus is in his very being, and thus in all his acts. Through his grace-filled ministry, Jesus comes to us "not just as one who forgives, but also as one who restores us to a new relationship with the Father" (p. 34). That is who Jesus is and therefore what Jesus does (and is doing).

As pastors, we are called and empowered by the Spirit, to live as bearers (messengers) of the grace of God that Jesus is in the lives of those God has sent us to serve. In the name of Jesus, we proclaim that people, in Christ, are forgiven. In so doing, we proclaim the "indicatives" of who, in Christ and by Christ, these people actually are. And then, also in Christ's name (meaning by his authority and bearing his power), we give them instruction (catechesis), coaching and opportunity to live out that grace as followers of Jesus. Thus the indicatives of grace lead on to the imperatives of grace (p. 35). In that way, our proclamation of the gospel of grace leads to people being discipled in the way of grace, which is the way of Jesus. Purves comments:
Pastoral work should be concerned to assist people to identify grace in their lives in its specificity as forgiveness of sins and to equip them to be faithful in thankful response of Christian discipleship... lives of fruitful and joyful discipleship in the power of the good news.... Pastoral work [thus] has its marching orders from the great evangelical truths of justification and sanctification... (p. 35)

The love of God

The ministry of God---and here the focus is on the Father---arises out of the very being of God, which is love (1 John 4:16). That love is the eternal communion between the Father, Son and Spirit, a being (and love) expressed in God's acts---above all, his acts within history through Jesus. We know who the Father is (and thus the very nature of God) because we see Jesus. In Jesus we know God as the one who is love in his very being, and who acts in love toward us. Purves comments:
God loves his creation out of the eternal plenitude of [his triune] self-love and... can no more cease to love than he can cease to be God or act toward us in a way other than God has acted toward us in and through Jesus Christ. (pp. 36-7)
We see the love of the Father expressed in the compassion of his incarnate Son, Jesus. That compassion gave expression to Jesus' redemptive/healing ministry--a ministry of personal, compassionate presence.

As pastors, we are called to join Jesus in that ministry---to be his personal, compassionate presence in the lives of hurting people, so they may know the love of the Father, and in knowing, by the power of the Spirit, experience healing.

The communion of the Holy Spirit

How can we humans, who fall so short of the glory of God, experience the grace of Jesus and the love of the Father? The answer is the empowerment that comes through the Holy Spirit. Purves puts it this way:, "The Holy Spirit is the personal presence of God by whom God [the Father] brings us into communion with himself through relationship with Jesus" (p. 39). The communion of the Holy Spirit is an "event"---one that is "Christ-related, God-glorifying, person-empowering, and church/mission-creating" (p. 39). Purves notes that "the Spirit calls the church into existence to be a community of worship and ministry through our union with Christ" (p. 39).

What does this mean for pastoral ministry? Perhaps the most important thing is that we are called not to help people merely mimic Christ (as though he were absent), but to participate, by the Spirit, in the ongoing ministry of Jesus who is actively at work in our world. In short, we have been called to help people share in Christ's ministry (or we might say, "share in Jesus's life and love").

That sharing, that participation in Christ's ministry, occurs through the communion of the Spirit found in and through the church. Sharing in Jesus' ministry is never an individualistic endeavor ("Just me and Jesus!" is how some state it). Purves comments:
To assume one can be Christian without attending church and participating in the life and mission of the fellowship is to misunderstand the meaning of being joined to Jesus Christ. Communion with Christ involves communion with one another and sharing together in Christ's mission to and for the world. (p. 41).
A Trinitarian-shaped pastoral ministry thus focuses on helping people to be involved in the worship and service (ministry) of the church---a ministry that cares for those within the church and reaches out to those outside the church. Why outside? Because the church, is fundamentally a "sent" church---sent into the world on mission in and through the Son, on behalf of the Father, by the Spirit. As pastors, may we hear and obey his command to go, and as we go make disciples of all people as we do. Amen.