A Few Notes (And Thoughts)
Today I am out at Claremont School of Theology for Founders' Day. I took some notes during Bishop Willimon's opening address.
Bishop Will Willimon – Founders Day 2008, Claremont School of Theology
Around 1951 the transition in language and vocation from Preacher to Pastor became more prevalent.
This transition meant that ministry was transformed from prophetic preaching to therapeutic caregiving. Ministers became administrators rather than homileticians.
To be a preacher is to be called to love God more than our congregations.
Culture today says we (ministers) have no greater purpose than our congregations.
And yet, we are supposed to be willing to risk everything for the joyful subservience to the Word.
We are called to interject Jesus into the conversation; to talk as God talks.
The Gospel is NOT pragmatic and utilitarian.
We are trying to teach people to describe their life and world in a very different language than the world around them (kind of like being a High School French Teacher)
Today’ challenge is to present Christ in a culture of Godliness, versus the challenge of the 50s and 60s secularism.
Preaching resurrection in an age of immortality juxtaposes the dichotomy of incarnational theology and spiritualism.
The line between Pastor/Enabler/Caregiver has been increasingly blurred (Easum). Whereas, it ought to be that the pastor is a TRANSFORMATIVE leader, based on DISCIPLESHIP. Pastors have gotten better at avoiding controversy than creating and dealing with controversy.
The demand on the minister that should be paid forward to the congregation, from God, is “Get out of yourself!!”
Calcedonian Theology proclaims that God wants to reclaim the world for Himself. Are we preaching this message? If we hold onto the church mentality “We did our work; God had better show up this time,” we will always fail. It should be, “God made the ‘to do’ list, and it is our responsibility to take up the jobs to get the work done.”
As pastors we should bend ourselves to God’s dilemma. Worship the Trinity who speaks and discusses, rather than shape ourselves to the conversations the world wants to have.
Wesley railed against the preacher who panders to the tastes of the congregation.
Christianity is supposed to be Culturally Dissonant, not culturally relevant.
We’ve lost the skills as pastors to know evil, and to point it out.
Are we challenging our congregations with our sermons? (Bishop Wilimon is waiting for a letter from a congregation displeased with the poor preaching, because that is the primary concern, rather than the usual complaints about the pastor who didn’t give “appropriate” pastoral care to a congregation member.)
He has been asked if his preachers have an opinion? Are they willing to take a stand about what the rest of us are dealing with, on TV, in our world, in our community.
Paul Borden, “Any pastor who is overworked is incompetent” – we have taken on too much of the baptized church’s responsibility.
Neibuhr has noted that the current purpose of ordained ministry seems more about rushing to and fro to meet the needs of the cultural definition of ministry, than ministers defining the vocation for the culture.
Preaching says “God means for you (the congregation) to understand the Word.”
We must, therefore, do more than glean, we must dig, till, weed, harvest, and lie fallow the Word among the congregation each week. We must adhere to the challenge to give up what we know to those who do not, and teach God’s stories rather than telling our own.
This is contrary to the authorities of today, and we must remember that Jesus mocked the authority, wasn’t about the nationality or the religion of faith, but about transformed moments, and people.