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« The Age of the Abundant Church | Main | An apologia for Gospel realism »

May 04, 2007

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DennisS

I mostly agree with what you have posted. I didn't think about storytelling as sharing how the text has affected me - even if it is to throw up my hands.

While I agree that most people want a pastor who loves them, I think it might be more likely that people are really thinking of the pastor as the representative of God, and if this messenger of God loves me, then I am loved by God. On the other hand, it seems that some actually expect that God actually hates them.

I'm still a bit uncomfortable with the pastor actually embodying the message. I can accept that the pastor will mirror the message, and strive to be authentic to it, and seek to compare how well the message and my life are the same - yet I believe it is possible for one who doesn't embody the message to be an effective preacher (either as an example of what not to be, or as one who has the knowledge but not the passion to pick up the cross and carry it. This is possible because of the work of the Holy Spirit. I'm not suggesting these ways, but I want to suggest it is possible for the Holy Spirit to work through one who does not embody the Good News.

I like to think that I am refining the terms and understanding - not that I'm nitpicking. I'm thinking about things may or may not be taken care of if a pastor can "communicate genuine, authentic love". Sure, a it would be tough to try to run out of town a well-loved pastor. Being loved doesn't take care of lots of things. It doesn't necessarily educate or challenge. These can be done in love. A pastor who is loving can also become a doormat, a person with compassion fatigue, a person who can never say no, etc.

I'm rather hesitant to throw up my arms and say that I don't know what it means for our lives today. If there is a text which cannot be preached with a purpose for us today, then why not select a different text?

I think I see the visionary as a prophet, and I don't remember their message as being very positive.

Ed Brenegar

Dennis, you are right that quality discipleship will impact other aspects of a church's life. I've never found "evangelism" compelling as a separate function of the church. Instead it is one of the functions that transcends all aspects of the church.
I see the emphasis on storytelling no different than emphasis on expository preaching. It is simply a technique.
What makes a sermon compelling is the authenticity of the pastor embodying the message in his or her life. That can come through stories, or it can come through a more intellectual, philosophical exposition. I suspect the only thing that really needs to be in the sermon, other than scripture (obviously) is an answer to the question, "What am I to do with this text?" And even if the pastor throws his hands up and says, "I don't know." It displays a reality and honesty that demonstrates that authenticity. While I don't advocate making this the standard by which we measure ourselves, I believe that what most parishioners want is to know that their pastor loves them. If they can communicate genuine, authentic love, then the rest will ordinarily take care of itself.

DennisS

"... So telling stories, being positive, and preaching to the community all relate to the preacher's role as a visionary."

What do you recommend for someone who isn't a storyteller, equates being positive all the time with being false, and finds more comfort and more response in one-on-one conversation?

"... Entrepreneurs are leaders who embody the values and ideology of their mission."

Can we change "embody" to "exude"? If I embody that which belongs to the mission, then isn't the focus upon me? But if I exude this, don't I share (or even cast upon others) the values and ideology?

I'm really struggling with the positive persona. I wonder if it's possible for some of us to do this in an authentic way. Maybe make sure to be positive on the occasions of sharing vision?

DennisS

I think that much of this is dependent upon the context. I wonder what context Paul Borden has in mind, as that second item, regarding recruitment of lay persons, still has me wondering.

I've seen two models which had success.

First, the pastor is highly evangelistic, met people lots of places, spoke with them, and invited them to church. The problem was the revolving back door. Until myself and another fellow stepped up to build relationships with those brought in by the pastor, it seems people didn't stick around but a couple of months. And after the other fellow and I left for seminary the congregation started shedding members.

Second, the pastor is very driven by prayer and strong biblical preaching. He is an introvert, and tends to hide away from the crowd and from new people. He is after quality. The congregation has continued to grow for years, with most people in small group Bible study.

In the first, the pastor is central. In the second, the program is central. In the first, the pastor brings people in. In the second, the programs bring people in.

But the real difference I saw was that the people took initiative in the second congregation. They started new ministries, they organized things. The first congregation had newer Christians, as it has been a church plant for aobut 17 years, while the second has people who have been worshipping there for several generations.

It seems to me that a focus upon discipleship would truly benefit the first congregation, though they have such high turnover among those who are employed.

I hope these examples clarify why I'm uncertain that lay recruitment is primarily the role of the entrepreneurial pastor.

DennisS

I'm a little confused by this. The primary task of a pastor is to communicate vision - fine and agreeable so far.

Recruitment of lay people? What does this mean? Does it mean bringing people in the doors, signing them up for classes and membership, finding their gifts and putting them to work?

Attention to stewardship seems reasonable, but it also seems a subset of vision.

What I see in this is a heavy emphasis on the left half of the diagram, with Vision and Recruitment of people (largely relationships). I would rather see a strong balance between Vision and Mission. And maybe this is present, and the wording is throwing me a bit.

Vision and Mission seem a bit like chicken and egg - which comes first? I see a similar question between discipleship and evangelism - which is to take priority? Do we primarily value the growing of disciples (quality), or evangelizing to increase the number of disciples (quantity)? Yes, of course we want both, but we all tend to emphasize one over the other, and when talking with someone who puts the priority on the other, we tend to disagree on many things.

Personally, I believe we need to work on quality (discipleship) before emphasizing evangelism. And this feeds back to my question about "recruitment of lay people", and what that really means.

Pastor as entrepreneur is true in many ways.

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