Christlike Justice and the Holiness Tradition
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In seminary, you learn all the skills: how to interpret scripture, how to plan and conduct worship, how to preach and so on. In the context of ministry, you realize that it is much, much more of an art: knowing when to be pastoral and when to be more prophetic and all of that. I had a problem with a staff person a while back.
Other colleagues have been largely helpful as well. Two of my heroes are in a way contradictory forces, but they share the same trait: courage. The first is Mary Albing, a Lutheran pastor in Minneapolis. Mary was always the face of calm in the midst of the storm over sexuality. She reminds me that sometimes ministry means being faithful when the way seems uncertain.
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He is a kindly man, but we happen to disagree on issues related to sexuality. After he said this, he started to cry.
Though we were not in accord on this issue, he still thought of me as a fellow Christian—and he saw our relationship as important. It took courage to do what he did, and he reminds me that as a pastor and a Christian, I am called to love those who may not share my views. But then I remember that God called people like Gideon, who were not the most highly qualified but ended up being the leaders that they were called to be.
BELIEFS + THEOLOGY
Along with the challenges, has your disability brought specific gifts or blessings to your ministry? This can be helpful in pastoral emergencies. The other gift is that I live in the moment. I tend to just do things, without always thinking about the consequences. But I think it has its plusses, especially in the context of my work. Churches tend to be waiting for something to happen, the right pastor or youth leader or whatever to come their way and change things. But I tend to feel that now is the time.
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On the basis of your ministry experience so far, how would you want to change your seminary curriculum? I can think of two areas. The first is administration. I would have appreciated more of a focus on budgets—not just how to read a spreadsheet, but how to get the most out of declining resources.
Pastors also often have to oversee a staff, which means we need a knowledge of managerial skills. The other area is communication. We do, however, need to figure out how to use all this technology to spread the gospel. Evangelicals have the edge on using the media to communicate the faith. I am glad to see mainline Protestants like Presbyterian Bruce Reyes-Chow dragging us into the social media age.
Now we just need to see seminaries follow his lead.
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It really sets limits on how much I can do in ministry at the parish level. My communications job with the Twin Cities presbytery is pretty demanding. As author Carol Howard Merritt has pointed out, being bivocational means having divided loyalties. But this is an emerging model of ministry for mainline churches. Growing up in an African-American church, I remember that a lot of the pastors also had other jobs—this was in Michigan, so many of them worked in the auto industry.
Bivocational ministry has been the lived reality in African-American and evangelical churches for quite some time, and increasingly it will be part of the reality in mainline churches as well. We will have to learn to adjust. Is there also some symbiosis or mutual enrichment that happens, despite the time and energy demands? I wonder about this, especially given that both of your vocations directly serve the church. I think there is some symbiosis going on. Being a pastor enriches the job I do at the presbytery because it brings theology into communication. And being a communicator has helped me as a pastor to see how important it is that we learn how to share our lives with one another through social media.
This is an area I really need to work on. One very helpful thing was a midweek prayer service I took part in this summer. I worked with Jen Nagel—the pastor of Salem English Lutheran Church, one of our partners at SpringHouse—and together we planned worship services based on Prayers Around the Cross, a contemplative service that comes from the Lutheran tradition.
The simplicity and quiet were restorative for me. But the rhythms of the service, the candles and the quiet moments allow me to be calm. My active brain and body get a few moments of rest, and this really centers me. I grew up as a Baptist and came into the Disciples tradition in my twenties. Both then and now, the most meaningful thing for me is the centrality of communion. Disciples partake of it every Sunday. We may disagree with each other, but we will welcome each other at the table.
I would like to see the church become stronger in the area of adult education as well.
The goal is to help make strong disciples, to be able to articulate what it means to be a Christian and what that means for how we live in the world. One day I was talking to a member who was rather upset that the church no longer did anything for children. That really got to her, and she started thinking.
In a few months she was able to come up with a Sunday school program that made use of her talents in the arts. Seeing the kids gather and get excited about learning the faith allowed the church to see that it had a future. Incarnational tradition keeps the death and resurrection life of Christ central in our worship and our faith relevant to every aspect of life.
click Exalt theology believes how we live shows what we truly believe. A tree is known by its fruit. Our theology includes our thoughts but also includes our whole person — heart, soul, mind, and strength. Our lifestyle and worldview accurately reflects what we truly believe in our souls.
We are called to be spiritually vibrant, intellectually curious and honest, relationally warm and healthy, emotionally healing and life giving, missionally relevant and inspiring. There are truths we know from scripture, Christian tradition, and personal experience. We also acknowledge our knowledge is finite since we are fallible human beings and knowing God is an adventure which will continue for eternity future. The health and truth of our worldview is shown by the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives and fellowship. Healthy thinking is essential to healthy living and healthy living is essential for healthy thinking.
All is found in Jesus Christ. John Hence the most important commandments are relational; love God, love one another. We are privileged to join their sacred dance of spiritual intimacy which is deeply practical for every aspect of life. Exalt Church believes our theology should be changing our lives for the better with positive impact upon our homes, community, and world. Normal people who happily are seeing their lives becoming more like Christ Jesus. Exalt Statement of Beliefs. Come live the life God has dreamed for you. Our Premise. Our Theology. Our Theological Practice.
Our Theology is Trinitarian. Exalt, reverence, worship God the Father Abide in, follow, emulate Jesus the Son Be led by, be filled with the Holy Spirit We are called to be spiritually vibrant, intellectually curious and honest, relationally warm and healthy, emotionally healing and life giving, missionally relevant and inspiring.