I was given a copy of Under the Unpredictable Plant – an Exploration in Vocational Holiness as a Christmas present and read it over the weekend. I haven’t read many Petersen books and often found him on a different page to myself in many regards.
This book I enjoyed on many levels. It is not a difficult read – which is always nice! And it also says some provocative and challenging things – Eugene the prophet coming to the fore.
Essentially he argues that pastors are not to be Messiah’s (people who fix it all) or Managers (religious program co-ordinators) but to be spiritual directors – those who help other grow in their connection with God. I find ‘spiritual director’ a bit of a trendy term at the moment.
He laments the mess the church has got into as we have tried to be a religious service provider and the damage this has done to pastors who willingly buy into this paradigm of ministry. He calls us back to a much simpler, more intentional expression of community without all the bells and whistles but with a strong focus on helping people become more like Jesus.
If you’re a program management freak then you’d be advised to stay well clear of this book!
He has some great things to say about how the work of ministry so often leaves us as people who are hypocrites, leading others to a God we don’t know and rarely experience. He argues that a significant proportion of a pastor’s time ought to be spent God and then with people. And in that he is a big fan of long term ministry. Petersen has added the vow of stability to the other more common vows of purity, simplicity etc.
When I get a minute I’ll post a few quotes from the book.
In March Steve Timmis is coming to Perth. I have never met Steve, but as I read this article I feel a strong resonance with the vibe of what he is doing. It sounds quite a bit like us!
I’ll post dates of where he’ll be and what he’ll be doing up here soon.
I am 41.
That is not young, and by today’s standards I should have at least around 40 decent years left.
I am also a bit obsessive about fitness (I would say ‘health’ but my diet betrays me on that one!) however over the last few years my body has been falling apart.
As a result of some bad practice in my youth (running on hard surfaces) I have developed tendonitis of the ilio-tibial tract – the band that runs down the outside of the thigh and joins up at the lower leg.
I went from being able to run 12kms easily to 6kms to 4… to the point where last year I was no longer able to actually run that distance without pain and inflammation. I can walk for an hour, but it just doesn’t feel like real exercise. I want to exercise in such a way that I really expend some effort!
I have tried cycling and quite enjoy it, but it also inflames the tendon… So – looks like its swimming or maybe hopping!…
After several years of visiting Drs and medical advice I am about to have 3 cortisone shots and then its surgery as a last resort.
Swimming is an option but I just find it so borrrring…
Any thoughts on alternative medicines?
The monthly WA Baptist newspaper came out this week. Sarah Green does a great job compiling a newspaper that is actually interesting and well worth reading.
This month’s has a great story on Marisa one of our new Forge interns as well as an article on blogging.
If you’d like to enter the wide weird world of Baptists then click here and you can read on…
Lately I’ve been doing a lot of preaching around the place with quite a bit more to come.
Strangely enough, the last few times I have been to church have left me feeling like I am missing something in my own experience at the moment. I have very much enjoyed being involved with the three churches I have been preaching at and I am trying to hear what God is saying to me in that. At times I have loved being in a community with the spectrum of ages represented, at other times I have found the music has helped me connect with God, and as well as that I have just enjoyed the diversity of people you meet in a larger group.
Now before anyone reads this and thinks I am about to pull the pin on Upstream, I’m not. Not at all. I love what we are doing and I feel deeply committed to it, but there has been a disturbance in me over the last few months as I have found myself missing some aspects of regular church life.
I have often said that my reason for the shift wasn’t because I didn’t enjoy the sing and sermon format, but more because I know there are many we would hope to connect with for whom ‘sing and listen’ just isn’t going to work. (In this sense what we are doing in Brighton constitutes a sacrifice of sorts for me. And I’m fine with that – such is the life of a missionary.) We are also concerned not to invest huge slabs of time in a Sunday gig and end up creating a monster that we need to then ‘feed’ and sustain. Travelling light and making our gatherings simple and reproducible is important to us.
I am currently trying to process what God is saying to me (maybe to us) in that. I don’t think it is for us to start something similar.(Crikey – Brighton has way enough ‘sing and sermon’ churches.) But there is a nagging disturbance that I haven’t been able to pin down.
I’ll write more as my head de-fuzzes.
I woke this morning and realised I don’t want to buy into someone else’s argument like I did yesterday with the Driscoll / McClaren post.
While I am happy to give my opinion, (and still find the whole censorship thing absurd) I found myself actually enjoying the biffo more than I should. A bit sick I realise but there you go… Stuff like this doesn’t bring out the best in me, so I have removed the two posts and probably won’t have anything more to say about it.
Its a reminder to me how easy it is to type words online and give opinions but lose sight of the real people at the end of the line.
I hope Driscoll and McClaren can find a way forward that allows them to disagree, but doesn’t become the fiasco it is now. They are obviously people who have much that is valuable to say to the church.
And in the words of Gump ‘That’s all I have to say about that’.
Well here we go…
I will risk an all out assault from the fundy fringe by asking the question, is the Jonah story a legitimate historical account or is it allegorical in nature, or are there other options? You are not allowed to answer with ‘does it matter?’!
We are about to explore it in our community gatherings and as much as I am loving studying the book, I am interested in this particular question.
What do you think and how do you know?…
BTW – he’s one grumpy bugger isn’t he?!
A few momths back I started a looking back series and then got distracted. It continues here…
I was 26 when I started in youth ministry at Scarborough Baptist Church, my home church, a place where I stayed another 5 years.
In the second year of youth min I also took up a job teaching at Scarborough High School, which meant that on Friday afternoon I taught 30 year nine boys Health Ed and the on Friday night I had them attend youth group. The connection did get tenuous at times!
One of the best things to come of my time as a teacher at Scarb were the surfing camps that I ran during the school holidays. We ran them thru the church, but I’d usually have 5 or 6 of my school students come along to join in.
The old Nissan E20 van went everywhere!
It was rugged old bus with moss growing in the window sills and a motor that was notoriously unpredictable. If it wouldn’t start I would flip the passenger seat to expose it – whip off the air filter and spray a continuous stream of ‘Aerostart’ down the carby until it kicked into action. One day the spray actually caught alight – kinda scary!
When I look back now the thought of taking 10 year 9 boys away on a surfing camp sounds like sheer lunacy. to do anything with 10 year 9 boys s madness, but to go surfing in some of the most dangerous waves in the world was verging on foolishness.
There were times when I drove out of the carpark saying ‘thank you God’ as we managed to put 10 boys in the water and take 10 boys out of the water. That infamous surf at Moses Rock when it was bloody huge was a case in point. What was I thinking to paddle out there myself let alone take those kids with me?! ONe sat out the back nearly the whole time while another got washed in about 1 km up the shore… Funny thing is, 2 of the boys are now top surfers and you see their name in competition schedules around the place.
Perhaps the most memorable experience were the 3 days we had at Windmills, a swell magnet out near the lighthouse. It was 4-5ft and perfect for 3 days straight and we had it to ourselves. (Hey who wants to hang out with 10 young boys!)
Occasionally I think I’d like to do it all again around here, but I’m not sure I am quite as patient or as surf crazy to make it a goer!