Hi fellow Pastors!
How do you understand God’s call in your life to ministry? For many of us responding to God’s call brings great personal rewards but potentially it can also come with great costs.
There is a danger, I believe, in rationalizing God’s role in any call when maybe it may be more about meeting our perceived needs. This can manifest itself in various ways. For example, in desperation to find a fresh ministry position we may rush into what may be a toxic situation to later find ourselves in a really tough place. On the other hand, we may place an overabundance of conditions upon God in being only available in certain geographical locations, if certain conditions are present, or if particular ‘entitlements’ are available, etc. While understanding that there is a breadth of practical considerations, including family needs, I wonder at times how much we are attentive to what God may be saying to us. How attentive are we to listening to God’s Spirit? At times God may call us to serve in places that will be real challenges not just places where we feel most comfortable. We also need to be cautious that we don’t see any ministry position as just a ‘stepping stone’ as part of some kind of professional ambition.
I recently read another related article by Matt Bloom, Associate Professor of Management at Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, entitled ‘Flourishing in Ministry’. He argues that ministry is and should be rewarding in that he believes God wants all of us, particularly pastors, to experience meaning in our work. Those who appear to him to be flourishing in ministry are those who are able to draw a line between the sense of really giving their best while also being able to say, ‘I don’t have all the answers, and I’ll rest easy knowing that god will fill in the rest.’
In his studies, Bloom found that meaningful work is usually closely aligned with a person’s core values. One of the challenges for many of us is to learn how we can live out our core values in a ministry context that can at times appear hostile.Despite the many challenges of pastoral ministry, pastors are right to expect meaning and even joy in their work, Bloom says. He see, that whatever the job, it’s about the integration of a person’s sense of self – our gifts, graces, personal values and personality – and how this is reflected in our work that may be the most important determinants of meaning in our ministry. He sees that pastors who find meaning in their ministry have the highest capacity for innovation as they find profound importance in what they do. I encourage you to read the full interview with Matt Bloom on www.faithandleadership.com/multimedia/matt-bloom-flourishing-ministry.
UPDATE on the IMPLEMENTATION of DIRECTIONS 2012 DECISIONS
The Baptist Union Executive has been overseeing the implementation of the Directions 2012 decisions. Some of this implementation has included agreement to appoint a Communications Officer early in 2012, the expansion of Regional Ministers and the appointment of the Pastor to Pastors. The training of church consultants will continue plus strategies to give greater support to pastors. Further discussions continue in raising financial commitments to support these initiatives.
The Vision Committee, which I have the responsibility of chairing, has been given the task of developing an overall vision for the denomination that reflects the decisions of Directions 2012 last May so this can be clearly articulated amongst our churches. This relates to the support of the missional health of our churches and planting new mission-focused churches both locally and globally. The committee met recently and will also be spending November 7 & 8 together framing the purpose, values and direction for our movement of churches. Following these days, members will then interact with the Constitution Committee plus numerous focus groups representing the breadth of pastors and churches to sharpen the vision and mission statements and to ensure it reflects what the churches decided in the Directions 2012 decisions.
The Constitution Committee has also been very active formulating a new constitution that reflects the governance decisions. They hope to have an initial draft by the end of November and to distribute a final draft in January for consideration at the AGM in March. The committee is aiming to produce a plain English document that captivates our purpose, values and how we might enable the vision that God has been giving us. The intent is to then proceed with appointing an interim Assembly Council who would initiate a process to appoint a Director of Ministry followed by an Associate Director for Administration and Finance.
Please continue to pray not only for those who are actively engaged in these implementations on behalf our churches, but also those who will be significantly impacted by the transition.
August 17-18will be the occasion for our Revive Conference in 2012 with Matthew Barnett co-founder of the Dream Center, Los Angeles, being our keynote speaker. This will be held at the same venue as 2011 so please put these dates firmly in your diary. Planning is well under way in regards to musicians, workshops, etc. For those who may not be familiar with Matthew or the Dream Center you might like to read his book, The Cause Within You, co-written with George Barna or look up google to see part of their story.
DIRECTOR of YOUTH and YOUNG ADULTS
As indicated in a recent press release, MSD has appointed Steve Dixon as the new Director for Youth and Young Adults. Steve has been the Youth and Young Adult Coordinator at Gymea Baptist since 2002 and is also Vice-Chairman of the Sutherland Board of Christian Education. MSD welcomes Steve and Renee (with Sage and Amos) to the MSD Ministry Team. Steve will commence in this role in mid January 2012. Please pray for them as a family as they finish well at Gymea and relocate.
Pray too for Andrew Palmer (with Cathy and the family) as he moves from this role into being the State Director for Global Interaction.
IMPORTANT NOTICE FOR AUTHORISED MARRIAGE CELEBRANTS
Have you attended a Marriage Celebrant’s Refresher course within the past four years? If not, then you will need to ensure you attend a refresher course within the next 12 months if you want to retain your registration as a celebrant. The Attorney General’s Department requires all celebrants to have undertaken professional development in this area and we need to guarantee that all celebrants are familiar with the Marriage Act.
Last month we also received an email from the Births Deaths and Marriages Registry indicating that they are responsible to ensure they receive the appropriate paperwork for all of the marriages that occur in NSW. The Registry is to planning to conduct an audit of the marriages that we have been conducting. I’m not sure how far back they will be looking. Where it appears that the Registry has not received the appropriate paperwork they will also be writing to the authorised celebrant who has solemnised the marriage. They want to ensure all authorised celebrants adhere to the Marriage Act 1961. This occurred a few years ago with Civil Celebrants resulting in a significant number having to resign as celebrants as some of the marriages they conducted were in breach of the Act.
We will be holding another Celebrants Refresher Course on Tuesday 29th November 2011 at the Baptist Ministry Centre, Epping 9.00am – 11.00am. We will also hold another 4 refresher courses throughout the state in 2012 which I am now finalising. After then, those who have not completed the course will most likely not be able to retain their registration.
PASTORAL TEAMS TRAINING DAY
This year’s teams’ day on October 28 at the Baptist Ministry Centre, Epping is entitledBuilding and Sustaining Teams: Corporate Skills, Kingdom Perspectives. Sometimes churches decry the ‘corporatisation’ of the church, fearing that some of the skills from the world of business might damage the vital Kingdom perspective of the Christian community. That need not be the case. Used wisely and prayerfully, business skills can greatly increase the power of a team and a church ministry. The presenters on this day will bring the perspectives of both the business world and church-based ministry, particularly when it comes to leading and developing effective teams. Further details and registration can be found at www.msd.org.au/resources.
SPEAKING on SENSITIVE ISSUES
At times when responding to sensitive issues where we have a strong view or matters that we are quite passionate about, our rhetoric or defence of the issue may not always be helpful in progressing the matter forward. I know that occasionally I’m guilty of doing just that. We are tempted to introduce irrelevant material, exaggerate or imply extremes are the norm, preying on others’ fears, anxieties or guilt. Rather than moving towards understanding and dialogue and possible resolution, such adversarial positions potentially escalate the issue. This doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for standing firm on our core beliefs, or presenting an apologetic or defence but more about the way we interact and relate to others.
While this is relevant to how we respond to each other within the church and between various Christian groups, it is also relevant to how we interact with sections of society with whom we have a very different worldview. I must admit that sometimes the kind of demonization that goes on deeply disappoints me and negates the opportunity to enter respectful dialogue and interaction where we might otherwise have some positive impact. Mark Durie provides some helpful comments on his blog which can be found athttp://markdurie.blogspot.com/2011/08/vilification-and-speaking-on-sensitive.html. While this article refers primarily to vilification issues on more public issues, I think there are some useful reflections for a range of broader matters.
If you also have an article or link that you would like to share with your colleagues in ministry, please pass it on so that I can include it in further newsletters.
Director of MSD