The day of the professional pastor is fading away; the day of the missional pastor has come. The maintenance "movement" of congregational leadership did not end with a noisy explosion. It is fading away quietly and predictably through gridlocked congregational meetings, declining worship attendance and burned-out leaders. The symptoms of its demise are self-evident in the decline of "mainline" denominations. Some of us experience its decline in our own congregations.
But now we are witnessing similar results in evangelical, Roman Catholic and non-denominational congregations. And it is not accidental that so many congregations today are hemorrhaging, struggling and asking big questions.
The underlying issues are not just about recession and Churchwide Assembly votes. The issues cut deeper. The traditional way of being a professional pastor, with its understanding of the nature of leadership and ministry, may function reasonably well in a churched culture. But that way of doing ministry is lost on a mission field. Ministers of church maintenance do well in a Christian culture. However, put them in an unchurched culture, like our own, and they are lost.
During this year, we have been working hard as faculty, staff and community to lay down a solid foundation for institutional growth. Our ultimate goal, however, is not to merely achieve growth for Luther Seminary's sake. Our motivation is to grow into God's mission. We are Moved by the Promise to strive to be faithful to the mission that we have received from God; namely, to raise up faithful and effective leaders to discern God's will for their communities and lead in mission.
One of the most central theological categories of our time is "mission." We are together God's missionaries on one of the richest mission fields on the planet: North America. Thank God it's Easter time!
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Select.. January 2015