Five Themes of Resilient Ministry

fullsizeoutput_abeThis week, I am spending time in reflection about what it means to be a pastor, what ministry is all about, and what it means to be the church. Earlier this week I shared some insights from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together about the church and from Dallas Willard on the nature of ministry in a consumer society. Today, I want to turn my attention toward pastoral ministry.

In their book Resilient Ministry: What Pastors Told Us About Surviving and Thriving, Bob Burns, Tasha Chapman and Donald Guthrie outline five themes of resilient ministry that I have found valuable as I reflect on what is most meaningful in my life as a pastor. They write:

After seven years of studying our [pastoral] summit participants (including their marriages, families and ministries), we learned a lot about what it takes to survive and thrive in ministry. Five themes, each with multiple factors, stood out as the keys for pastors to remain resilient in fruitful ministry for a lifetime.

In chapter two, the authors introduce those five themes, so here they are in summary form.

Theme One: Spiritual Formation

The study reveals that focus on personal spiritual formation within the life of the pastor is incredibly important to pastoral resilience. “In our work with pastors, we have come to define spiritual formation as the ongoing process of maturing as a Christian, both personally and interpersonally” (19, italics mine). This is not something that has been attained, but is an ongoing process in which leaders give attention, as any disciple of Christ should, to their ongoing growth with God. Along with this, the authors emphasize that pastoral resilience arises when this emphasis on spiritual formation is not only persona, but interpersonal. That is, spiritual formation must involve others and, though this can be a problem for pastors to find, must involve safe places for vulnerable disclosure.  They quote Diane Langberg, who says “Before you were called to be a shepherd, you were called to be a lamb” (21).

Theme Two: Self-Care

As pastors take steps to live out self-denial with intentional spiritual growth, they must also give attention to appropriate self-care. “The idea of self-care involves the pursuit of physical, mental and emotional health” (21). The work of ministry is very demanding in terms of time, life issues, and the sense that it is a 24-7 role. However, in the midst of those stresses, we cannot lose sight of taking care of ourselves through meaningful physical exercise, good sleep and eating, activities outside of the church, and some life-giving hobbies. As someone once said to me, “The best thing you have to offer to the church as a pastor is a healthy you.”

Theme Three: Emotional and Cultural IntelligenceRead More »

Descending [Life of Joseph, part 1]

This past weekend at Eastbrook Church we began a new series “The Life of Joseph: God’s Sovereignty in Our Suffering” by looking at the beginnings of Joseph’s story in Genesis 37.  Joseph’s story begins with dreams, parental favoritism, and family tensions. His father’s favorite son, Joseph quickly finds the disagreements with his brothers boiling over into his faked murder and sale into slavery. What do you do when everyone seems to turn against you?

You can view the message video and sermon outline for this message below. You can follow the entire series at our web-site, through the Eastbrook app, or through our audio podcast. Also, join in with our daily devotional that accompanies this series during Lent.

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Family Secrets

Family-Portrait-ThumbnailThis weekend at Eastbrook Church I continued our series, “Family Portrait,” with a message entitled “Family Secrets.”

My message was a reflection on the life of Jacob, culminating in his wrestling match with the angel of the Lord in Genesis 32:22-32. My main point in the message is that we need to face into our family secrets, brokenness, and sin so that we can move into redemptive freedom by God’s power.

You can listen to my message at the Eastbrook web-site here. You can also follow the RSS feed for Eastbrook sermons or follow Eastbrook Church on Twitter or Facebook. The message outline is included below:Read More »

You Belong in the Family (discussion questions)

Here are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “You Belong in the Family,” from this weekend at Eastbrook Church.

Discussion Questions:

1. When you hear the word, ‘family’, what do you think of?

2. This week, we are beginning a new series called “Family Portrait.” Whether on your own or with a group, begin your study by asking God to speak to you.

3. We are looking at some broad themes in the Scripture. To do this, we will explore a lot of Scripture. Read the following passages and consider what you think these verses are saying about the concept of ‘family’ and what it means to be a part of a family as Christians:

  • Matthew 12:46-50
  • 1 Corinthians 7:1-16
  • 1 Timothy 5:1-16

4. One of the key concepts in the New Testament related to family is our adoption by God as His children through the work of Jesus Christ. Read and reflect on what each of these Scripture passages says about adoption by God:

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You Belong in the Family

Family-Portrait-ThumbnailThis weekend at Eastbrook Church we began a new four-week series entitled “Family Portrait.”

My message this weekend focused on understanding God’s people as a family adopted as children of God through Jesus Christ. I built the message chiefly around Matthew 12:46-50, Galatians 3:26-29 and Revelation 7:9-10.

You can listen to my message at the Eastbrook web-site here. You can also follow the RSS feed for Eastbrook sermons or follow Eastbrook Church on Twitter or Facebook. The message outline is included below:

Read More »

Family Portrait

Family-Portrait-Web-Rotator

This coming weekend at Eastbrook Church, we are beginning a series entitled “Family Portrait.”

The family is a significant part of God’s plan in the world.  At one level we are all part of the family of God, as Paul writes: “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household” (Ephesians 2:19). What does it mean for the church to truly be a family together? At the same time, what does it look like for us to have families in the church who are healthy and reaching out to our broken world? Let’s put the picture together in this series on a God-inspired family portrait.

Our weekly message topics are:

April 20/21 – “You Belong in the Family”

April 27/28 – “Ideal Family?”

May 4/5 – “Family Secrets”

May 11/12 – “Homecoming”

Alongside of our series, we will be offering seminars during the first two weeks of May, both on Sunday mornings and during the week, on a range of specific topics applicable to everyone. You can find out more info here.