I’m now a student at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary. I’m easing my way in, via their M.Div. Online program. I’m very happy that PC(USA) has stepped forward with utilizing technology in preparing pastors. It’s not a degree mill, trust me. This is just me taking one class per semester until the time is right to move to Dubuque and do the bulk of my coursework in residence.
The class I’m taking is “Theology of Mission and Evangelism.” Very excited. Here’s why:
This course begins a series of 3 courses on the contextual nature of the Church’s life in mission and evangelism. It seeks to rethink Mission and Evangelism, seeing them both as part of the essence of the Church and of every local congregation. Beginning with the Triune God as a missionary God this course will focus on changing paradigms of mission and its influence on how we do evangelism in today’s post-modern, post-Christendom, pluralistic society. Thus, evangelism and mission are grounded in a missiological ecclesiology. This required course is part I of the Evangelism/Mission/Contextual Theology sequence.
4 of the 6 books assigned for this class have arrived (alpha by author).
Looks like a provocative selection.
Also, this is turning out to be a really affordable semester. Tuition was $1,485, books were $100, and there were some miscellaneous fees, to total about $1,600. Two ecclesiastical entities I’m tied to kicked in $1,350; and an awesome family from my church contributed $100. So, this class only cost me about $150. What a great way to start off, especially considering I had originally budgeted to spend up to $900 out of pocket.
So… yeah… seminary. I’m excited.
- New pastor
- Swamped @ work
My own thoughts (some hopefully beneficial, some potentially harmful) on just what to do about a new pastor arriving less than a week from today prompted me to draft an open letter to my church. It addresses the “fix-it” list mentality that we can get caught up in whenever new leadership comes into an organization…
January is here! No doubt, this is the month where God’s blessing on us manifests itself in the form of a gifted and passionate shepherd to serve as Pastor and Head of Staff. Thanks be to God! I can’t help but think that our gracious and providing God has a sense of humor. How appropriate that Pastor Bill arrives in January… that he arrives in a month saturated with new beginnings and new chapters, with renewed hope and renewed vitality. Personally and professionally, I’m very thankful for God’s blessing on us. I’m excited to work with a fellow climber, a fellow bibliophile, and a fellow questioning pilgrim, to name a few of Bill’s qualities.
The arrival of a new pastor after a long interim period is great news, but it’s also an occasion for extra diligence. Over the past few months, each of us has probably said that some problem or another will just get better when the new pastor comes. I know I have. But the more I think about it, the more I’m wary of that attitude. Indeed, the presence of a pastor inherently clears up certain potential conflicts. For example, although we could not have survived this period without the leadership of dedicated laypersons who stepped up to the plate, I eagerly anticipate having just one supervisor. Just one person to report to. Where hierarchy exists, it exists most efficiently in simple form. So, Pastor Bill’s arrival itself is somewhat of an automatic solution to certain organizational challenges.
But we know we’re not a perfect congregation. No congregation is perfect. There are still ways for us to streamline the way we carry the gospel out into Durango. There are still ways for us to more enthusiastically fold newcomers into our midst. There are still ways for us to harness 21st-century technology for the purposes of building God’s Kingdom this year. There are still ways for us to become a tighter family of many generations working together.
Join me in rejoicing that our Pastor has arrived, but also let us remain diligent, both as individuals and as a corporate body. Before I ask Bill to make a drastic change that I may personally want to see, may I give him the time he needs to observe us and strategize about how to best lead us. May I avoid the temptation to hand him a “fix-it” list. May I be eager to discern how my unique gifts might best combine with those brought by Bill. Join me in enthusiastically welcoming Pastor Bill in this way!
Let us take to heart how Paul ends his admonition to the believers in Rome: “And now to him who is able to establish us by the gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ… so that all nations might believe and obey him, to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ. Amen!”
“Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man.”
HT: Garrison Keillor