Showing posts from March, 2014

What is a pastor?

The Relational Pastor, part 6 For other posts in this series, click on a number:  1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 7 , 8 , 9 , 10 , 11 , 12 ,  13 , 14 ,  15 . The last post in this series, which is examining Andrew Root's book,  The Relational Pastor ,  concluded with this rather provocative quote from Root: "To be a person is to be our relationships" (p67). This trinitarian, incarnational understanding of personhood as "being-in-relation" leads Root to ask and answer an important, related question:  What is a pastor? If we define persons as their individual functions and interests, then a pastor's job is to attend to those functions and interests. But if persons are their relationships, then a pastor's job is relational, not functional. Root comments: We could try to define a pastor by his  or her functions, and it has been en vogue for the last century to do so. The pastor is the one who preaches, gives the sacraments, runs the meeting, visits the si

What is a person?

The Relational Pastor, part 5 For other posts in this series, click on a number: 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 6 , 7 , 8 , 9 , 10 , 11 , 12 , 13 , 14 ,  15 . Last time in this series exploring the book  The Relational Pastor , we noted Andrew Root's definition of ministry as place sharing. This perspective is framed by a trinitarian, incarnational anthropology that embraces the biblical view of persons as beings-in-relation. From this perspective, personhood is understood to be rooted in and defined by the tri-personal being of God who created humankind in his own relational image. This view contrasts sharply with the predominant Western-modern idea of persons as singular, distinct individuals. Root comments: There is simply no [human] life in being alone, no such thing as a singular person.... We could even stretch it to say that hyperindividualism, is the very judgment of God.... There is no humanity without relationship... [without] being bound one to another, through indwelling a

Ministry as place sharing with Jesus

The Relational Pastor, part 4 For other posts in this series, click on a number: 1 , 2 , 3 , 5 , 6 ,  7 , 8 , 9 , 10 , 11 , 12 ,  13 , 14 ,  15 . In The Relational Pastor , Andrew Root defines Christian ministry as place sharing . This post explores that definition, which sets the stage for the rest of his book. It's common, these days, for Evangelical authors to urge Christians to practice ministry in a way that is "incarnational" or "relational" (terms often used synonymously). Their exhortation to us is to, "do ministry like Jesus." Though it's laudable to want to be like Jesus and do ministry like he would, the reality is that we can't actually be "incarnational" like Jesus. Why? Because as the one and only incarnate Son of God, he is the unique God-man who, alone, is fully God and fully human. This being so, it's more accurate for us to refer to our ministry as our sharing   in the incarnate ministry that Jesus is do

A Trinitarian definition of ministry

The Relational Pastor, part 3 For other posts in this series, click on a number:  1 , 2 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 , 8 , 9 , 10 , 11 , 12 , 13 , 14 ,  15 . This post continues looking at Andrew Root's book,  The Relational Pastor . Last time we ended with his call for redefining Christian ministry. We begin this time with his proposed definition: "Ministry is nothing more and nothing less than joining in God's continued action in a [particular] time and place" (p24). This definition is quite different than many that have arisen in the body of Christ during the modern era. But a new "missional era" of ministry seems to be emerging, in part because modern practices are being found ineffective in our increasingly post-modern, post-Christendom world. Ministry-as-usual simply will not do. What will replace it is unclear. What is clear is that Christians are searching for more faithful and effective ways to define and practice ministry. The Spirit seems to be ca

Ash Wednesday

On Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, I'm reminded of the words Job spoke to God: "I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes." (Job 42:5-6, NRSV) Job's experience is typical - when God reveals himself to a person, a crisis inevitably results. Why? Because to be shown God in the fullness of his goodness and grace is to come to the crisis of decision - will we embrace the revelation and be transformed (as was Job), or will we turn away in self-imposed ignorance? In this season of Lent - a time of reflection leading up to and including Holy Week - may we receive with open and tender hearts God's revelation to us of himself. Of course, that revelation comes not merely as a book, a set of doctrines, or a theological treatise. Rather it comes to us as a living person - the incarnate Son of God, Jesus Christ. Indeed, in the person of Jesus, God is revealed to be who he truly