Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

The Crucifixion of Ministry 6

We close our survey of Andrew Purves, The Crucifixion of Ministry, with today’s post … but on Thursday I’ll offer a brief critical interaction with the book. This chp gets down to brass tacks with what ministry, when conceived as union with Christ, looks like on a daily basis.
The chp is called “Having Hitched a Ride: Ministry Today.”
“From the beginning of my ministry I have known that the discipline of pastoral theology has largely lost its way, finding its identity in pastoral counseling theories and practices” (123).
First, it begins with our own formation in Christ, and here Purves speaks of classical spiritual disciplines and appeals to writings like Gregory the Great’s Pastoral Care and Richard Baxter’s The Reformed Pastor and Eugene Peterson’s Five Smooth Stones.
Every ministry is constrained by the ministry of Christ. The issue is always to discern the Lord’s actual ministry at work.
1. Announce the love of God. God is love, therefore all ministry announces the love of God. Here is his way of putting it: “Jesus Christ is Lord. Jesus who is God loves you.
2. Care for the person: the quality of relationship matters because theological discernment can only arise out of that relationship.
Three ways:
a. Bearing witness to Christ: preaching isn’t an occasional task; it is the center of everything we do (he says). We bear witness. “The defining matter of the church’s life is not to convert and bring people to faith (the evangelical heresy!) or to bring in the ethical commonwealth (the liberal heresy!). The defining matter for the church’s life … is to bear witness to Jesus Christ” (132). This means looking for the declarative moment, but it is not the same as didactic/teaching. One must discern to join the person’s life and the gospel of Jesus Christ.
b. Interpreting the life situation: not developed extensively, but his point seems to be to help others discern the presence of Christ and the significance of the gospel for the individual person’s life.
c. Symbolic action: again, not developed, but he believes in sacramental acts and symbols as significant for pastoral care.
Thursday I’ll give some critical interaction.

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posted December 4, 2007 at 1:27 am

Sounds an awful lot like the incarnational, missional, and proper contextualization words that are gaining in some spheres! Very interesting….

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James Petticrew

posted December 4, 2007 at 2:37 am

I am always wary when Richard Baxters work is held up as an example. To me the reformed pastor effectively subverted the priesthood of all believers for generations. It encourages pastors to take responsbilities for minstry that is not theirs and allows members not to take responsbility for ministry they are gifted and called to. It is the ultimate expression of Christendom church.

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Ivy Gauvin

posted December 4, 2007 at 8:13 am

I have not read the Reformed Pastor, however, what you have stated does sound very incarnational, as Peggy #1 stated. It is a good reminder for all Christians, but particularly for those of us preparing to enter into pastoral ministry.
Thank you.
An aside, I got my acceptance letter yesterday from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg for their MDiv. program beginning Fall 2008.

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posted December 4, 2007 at 9:19 am

?From the beginning of my ministry I have known that the discipline of pastoral theology has largely lost its way, finding its identity in pastoral counseling theories and practices?
That sentence alone makes me want to at least skim the book some day and let it sink in a little more.
It is hard for me to imagine the “perfect” pastoral relationship. On the one hand, preaching alone is too distant. People come to church and leave and live the rest of their week. Counseling is more personally involved, but it seems to me to also lack. You see the person on a schedule and are constrained in what you say to them. In some ways, discipleship seems to be a fusion of these two extremes that allow for ongoing personal, theological interaction.

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Bob Smallman

posted December 4, 2007 at 11:19 am

?From the beginning of my ministry I have known that the discipline of pastoral theology has largely lost its way, finding its identity in pastoral counseling theories and practices?
Absolutely! Although I have a masters degree in pastoral counseling (thanks in part to some help from Scot!), I argued strenuously with my professors that we need to move from a narrow model of pastoral counseling back to the broader model of pastoral care. That doesn’t exclude individual counseling (at times) but it reminds us who are pastors that we’re not limited to the tools of Christian psychology (whatever that is), but we are blessed to have the Christian community, worship, the Word and the sacraments.
In my opinion, not only have too many pastors have abandoned these wonderful “tools,” but they spend far too much of their limited time doing traditional counseling that some other gifted people could do. I’m also convinced that we can help equip gifted members of the body to do a lot of this pastoral care.
This sort of approach builds into the body a shalom-oriented focus on spiritual and emotional health and wholeness rather than a medical model of sickness and disease.

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John W Frye

posted December 4, 2007 at 12:34 pm

Purves appears to attempt to free pastoral ministry from the cultural barnacles of therapy and business models. Yet, from your reviews I can’t see how his contribution advances on Eugene H. Peterson’s *Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work.*
I do like his emphasis on care and that spiritual/theological discernment arises out of respectful relationship.

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Dan Brennan

posted December 4, 2007 at 10:01 pm

I am enjoying the review. I think Purves is spot on about the pastoral theology largely losing its identity in counseling theory and practices. For, the pastoral resources are in prayer, friendship (i.e. “pastoral friendship”) sacraments, preaching and worship. This is not to say anything against Purves (I haven’t read the book yet) but I agree with John that Peterson’s book is almost in a class of by itself.

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Ted M. Gossard

posted December 4, 2007 at 11:23 pm

Alot of good, interesting thoughts here. I look forward, Scot, to your thoughts on it tomorrow.

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