Students at commencement

Ministry in Context

Finding blessing in the ordinary

The extraordinary season of Lent and Easter is over. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Now we enter into the Easter season, which can seem to be a strangely ordinary season. Not as many festivals. Not such depths, nor soaring heights. Of course, the Ascension is yet to come, but in the lives of most congregations things are calming down a bit as they settle into being Easter people.

If you are midway into your internship year, you may feel this

The simplicity of Easter

Easter is not a simple time for a pastor. I've been reflecting a bit on how complicated this high holy day, the Resurrection of our Lord, can be for pastors.

My first Easter Sunday sermon was the longest sermon I've ever preached (except for a worship service in our companion synod in the Central African Republic, where long sermons are required). It lasted more than half an hour, because I felt compelled to say everything possible to those who showed

Good gifts, good growth

If I were going to boil down the essence of the early six-month evaluations that I'm reading from supervisors and internship committees, it would be this:

  • God has given good gifts to this intern.
  • We are seeing some good growth in this intern.

The specifics, of course, vary. The particular blind spots or areas of struggle differ from one to another. The areas of particular giftedness range widely. The yet-to-be learned ministry skills are not the same. The

Trust is essential

"This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy."   (I Corinthians 4:1-2)

This text from the ELCA ordination service is a deep reminder of who and whose we are as Christians and as pastors. And it is a clear word that, while a faithful and effective pastor can be "not so good" at many things, one cannot be "not so good" at being trustworthy.

On watching the teacher

One of the books I'm currently reading is a new publication from the Alban Institute entitled Welcome to Theological Field Education. It is edited by Matthew Floding, and has 11 helpful chapters from various practitioners in the area of practical/contextual theological education.

One chapter I found particularly evocative was written by Dr. Charlene Jin Lee of San Francisco Theological Seminary. Lee writes:

"For one year before beginning grammar school, my parents

How's your prayer life these days?

For you who are now several months into your internship, has it changed any? I was thinking about you (a common occurrence) this week. It was Thanksgiving weekend, which quickly moves into the Advent-Christmas season. Last year, for most of you this season meant moving from one break to another. Family, friends, feasts, down-time from classes. This year? Well, your life is probably more like breakneck speed than break time.

A person with a gift for gross over-simplification

The meaning of leadership

What sort of leader are you being called and equipped to be? What does it mean to be a Christian public leader? What does it mean to provide leadership in a congregation and/or community?

There are all sorts of books being written about leadership. Again and again, in classes and in conversations, you engage the topic of leadership. You learn varying styles or modes of leadership. You try to ascertain what your particular gifts/strengths/capacities might be, and how that will