Yesterday I was in Grand Rapids — speaking twice at GR Theological Seminary. First, in chapel (more below) and then later to the Faculty (about future seminary education — I’ll keep this under wraps for now). It was good to see Doug Fagerstrom and Peter Osborn again, but I’m making enough friends there that I can’t mention any more names. And, it was great to see John Frye and some Mars Hill folks in chapel. Here are some observations:
(By the way, Jeremy Bouma has a link to the chapel talk here.)
Before I say any more, let me say how much I like what is going on at GRTS. They have developed a new church planting program and in the last 4 years or so they have planted more than 50 churches. They are also deeply involved now supporting the pastors in the inner city of Grand Rapids … I could go on. These are the sorts of things that visionary and creative leaders and schools are now doing.
In chapel … although I must have originally said something about addressing Spirituality and Empire, as the time passed I was prompted more to speak about the reality of pastoring and how to prepare for pastoring. (After all, I was speaking to future pastors.)
I began with Daniel Gilbert’s Stumbling on Happiness: humans have a frontal lobe in which the brain can “next” (make linear logical connections) and “imagine.” Imagining a future triggers emotions of happiness and much of our happiness, truth be told, is based on a future that is not likely to happen.
Future pastors are prone to think of “what it will be like when they begin to pastor”.
Then I suggested that the Roman forum, filled with destroyed and corroded and broken and no-longer-existing columns and buildings, is what many of our imaginings and hopes of future pastoral ministry is like … (negative, to be sure).
So, what to do? We turned to James 1 and I brought up three points that speak to the need to let ministry flow out of the present realities of our own spiritual life …
1. Be receptive to the Word (1:21)
2. Do what you hear (1:22-26)
3. Be holy and compassionate now (1:27)
(I finished with my blue parakeet story — which story will have to be restricted in analogy when the book comes out next Fall).