"For anyone responding to a call to the ministry, this book will be an excellent guide." --Jimmy Carter, Thirty-ninth President of the United States and Nobel Peace Prize Winner The Fund for Theological Education (FTE) annually invites our nation's premier preachers to address a group of young adults who are considering a vocation in pastoral ministry. As part of the FTE's honoring of their outgoing president, Dr. James Waits, for his remarkable service, they have collected these superb sermons. These eight sermons on vocation offer an important resource for high school and college students making vocational decisions, for older adults considering vocational changes, and for all who teach and mentor in the area of vocational discernment and who help others sort out a commitment to professional ministry. The purpose of the Ministry Conference, and the sermons delivered at the event, intersects well with Abingdon's mission to help form pastors who will serve the church faithfully and effectively. The preachers are highly recognizable and respected individuals who will serve as trusted and wise guides for discerning a ministry vocation. They include Fred Craddock, Walter Brueggemann, Tom Long, Barbara Brown Taylor, and Brad Braxton. The volume includes an annotated bibliography of publications on ministry as a vocation, and a foreword by Dr. James T. Laney, former Ambassador to South Korea, President of Emory University, and Dean of Candler School of Theology. He is currently a faculty member of Emory's Center for Ethics. He chairs the United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia, is a trustee of the Henry Luce Foundation, and chairs (with Andrew Young) The Faith and The City Program in Atlanta.
An experienced pastoral practitioner writes with poetic insight and reflective discipline about the practice of ministry and the life of the priestly person. Doug Purnell is also a professional artist and the book shares many of his drawings as part of the text. His book will touch you deeply. It will not be a gentle read, but it will be ministry shaping. You will think in new ways about ministry and about the role of the priestly person as a result of reading this book. You will be enriched.
Young adults often encounter mixed messages about vocation from their families, friends, and churches. On the one hand, they are encouraged to look at their gifts and passions to discern their particular calling; on the other hand, they are told that God may ask something of them that they don?t want to do or aren?t prepared for. The discontinuity between these messages has led to frustration for many. Seeking to ease that frustration with this book, Doug Koskela carefully distinguishes between ?missional calling,? ?direct calling,? and ?general calling.? Koskela clarifies the relationship between gifts, passions, and vocation even as he offers practical guidance for the process of vocational discernment. This is a book for those who want to use their time, energy, and abilities faithfully as they move with purpose toward the future. Watch a 2015 interview here:
Leading is a calling from God, but that doesn't mean it is easy. There are choices to be made about what your congregation believes, how your church organizes for effective ministry, and how your church serves the settings of which you are a part. The good news is that others have gone before you.Author Larry L. McSwain's forty years of experience can help guide you through these choices. Rooted in research, The Calling of Congregational Leadership teaches a three-pronged approach to congregational leadership: being a good leader, the knowledge needed by the leader, and the managing of ministry leadership. By using this practical, holistic approach to leading congregations, McSwain shows you how to use your church's potential for conveying the power of God in the lives you touch.The Calling of Congregational Leadership is for those who seek to enlarge the understanding of their leadership to make their communities of faith more vital and more reflective of the mission of God in the world.
What am I going to do with my life? is a question that young people commonly face, while many not-so-young people continue to wonder about finding direction and purpose in their lives. Whether such purpose has to do with what job to take, whether to get married, or how to incorporate religious faith into the texture of their lives, Christians down the centuries have believed that God has plans for them. This unprecedented anthology gathers select passages on work and vocation from the greatest writers in Christian history. William Placher has written insightful introductions to accompany the selections -- an introduction to each of the four main historical sections and a brief introduction to each reading. While the vocational questions faced by Christians have changed through the centuries, this book demonstrates how the distilled wisdom of these saints, preachers, theologians, and teachers remains relevant to Christians today. This rich resource is to be followed by a companion volume, edited by Mark R. Schwehn and Dorothy C. Bass, featuring texts drawn mainly from fiction, memoir, poetry, and other forms of literature. A study guide is available from Programs for the Theological Exploration of Vocation (PTEV) on their website: www.ptev.org
For the past fifty years, scholars in both pastoral and practical theology have attempted to recapture human religious experience and practice as essential sites for theological engagement -- redefining in the process what theology is, how it is done, and who does it. In this book Bonnie J. Miller-McLemore shows how this trend in scholarship has led to an expanded subject matter, alternative ways of knowing, and richer terms for analysis in doing Christian theology.
In Exploring Practices of Ministry, Pamela Cooper-White and Michael Cooper-White share insights from their extensive experience as parish ministers, church agency executives, and seminary educators in diverse multicultural and international contexts. The book engages readers seeking to deepen theological reflection and expand skills as ministry practitioners, including preaching and public speaking, teaching, leading worship, counseling and care, and serving as organizational and public leaders. This book is a companion journal for pilgrims on the way to becoming confident practitioners of ministry.
The distinguished contributors to this volume -- ministers, scholars, and theological educators -- share personal reflections on the sometimes-difficult transition from being a seminarian to becoming a minister. Based on their own life experiences, they address the two related but different "worlds" of theological school and ministry settings, each with its own set of expectations, values, challenges, focal points, and rewards. Contributors: Wallace M. Alston Jr. Ray S. Anderson M. Craig Barnes Elizabeth F. Caldwell Allan Hugh Cole Jr. Pamela D. Couture Kathy Dawson Carrie Doehring Michael Jinkins L. Gregory Jones Susan Pendleton Jones James F. Kay Cleophus J. LaRue Thomas G. Long Loren B. Mead Bonnie J. Miller-McLemore Earl F. Palmer Stephanie Paulsell Anthony B. Robinson Carol L. Schnabl Schweitzer Theodore J. Wardlaw Traci C. West William H. Willimon J. Philip Wogaman Karen Marie Yust
Pastors say goodbye to congregations. Sometimes their goodbyes are timely and sweet; sometimes they are jarring and painful. But as they leave, they face a unique journey of grief, one shaped by their role. They face both the outward grief of leaving people behind and the inward grief of leaving an identity behind. In The Graceful Exit, Lutheran pastor Mary Lindberg shares insights from her experience of ending her service to a congregation, as well as wisdom from other pastors who have changed their life work. Lindberg invites readers to pull apart the strands of self and role, individual and community; confront regrets, confusion, and dislocation; and figure out where and who God is at this juncture in their lives. She offers the book she wishes someone had handed her about finding a new church home, about getting a life, about relating to the colleagues who stayed. She reflects on how to be a pastor in a non-pastoral role, how to find community, and how to be graceful in the midst of the awkward unknown. Lindberg acknowledges that as pastors leave congregations, they have to discern how to wrap up their ministry and get out the door without regrets. She recognizes that most pastors will struggle with the spiritual themes of fulfillment, surrender, community, legacy, and separation. But she also believes pastors can face these challenges together. The Graceful Exit invites them into a community of healing and shows them that God walks with them to a new place, even as God keeps on loving the place they have left.
Presented as the letters of a mature pastor to several fictional recipients, Letters to New Pastors delves into the professional, emotional, and spiritual needs of those new to the ministry. In a manner reminiscent of C. S. Lewis's Letters to Malcolm and Reinhold Niebuhr's Leaves from the Notebook of a Tamed Cynic, Michael Jinkins connects readers with valuable pastoral wisdom gleaned from his years of ministry and from the riches of the Christian past. In these letters Jinkins explores such themes as developing one's own spiritual life, finding balance amid conflicting demands, and rediscovering the meaning of Christ's call for the church's future. Written in a comfortable, personal style, Jinkins's Letters to New Pastors is ideal not only for new pastors but also for anyone seeking to better understand the challenges facing those in ministry today.
Based on a qualitative study of more than thirty young adults (ages 18¿35) from diverse denominations and countries serving in various ministry positions, Millennials in Ministry unveils the heart and vision of young leaders for the Christian church today. Highlighting the generational traits, values, and needs of Millennials in ministry, this book offers helpful insights for churches and organizations that are hiring, retaining, and equipping this new generation of leaders.
Every Christian is assailed by the gales of temptation, but those in professional ministry face fiercer storms than the rest. As C. H. Spurgeon warned, contrary to what is often assumed, our dangers are more numerous and more insidious than those of ordinary Christians. This perspective was shared by the unified voice of the historic church, leading some patristic church fathers to initially flee the call to ministry. The same dangers were repeatedly identified in the writings of the early English pastoral theologians as they sought to mentor their proteges in successful ministry. A Most Dangerous Profession surfaces these gems so often overlooked in historic Christian literature, and ends with their practical advice on how to overcome. As both a pastoral and spiritual theology, A Most Dangerous Profession is bound to add an important voice to the ongoing dialog about pastoral self-care.
Today's pastors -- often expected to be multitasking marvels who can make their churches "successful" -- are understandably confused about their role. Craig Barnes contends that the true calling of a pastor is to help others become fully alive in Christ, to be a "minor poet," or poet of the soul. As such, pastors are to read the major poets of Scripture and history in light of the dust and grit of daily parish life. The Pastor as Minor Poet eloquently calls pastors to search for a deeper understanding of what they see -- both in the text of Scripture and in the text of their parishioners' lives. A critical part of this poetic vision involves discerning key subtexts beneath these texts, which allows pastors to preach the heart of the Word and to understand the hearts of their people. Written with a seasoned pastor's depth of understanding and a poet's sensibility and sensitivity, this book will minister to and inspire pastors everywhere.
Many pastors today see themselves primarily as counselors, leaders, and motivators. Yet this often comes at the expense of the fundamental reality of the pastorate as a theological office. The most important role is to be a theologian mediating God to the people. The church needs pastors who can contextualize biblical wisdom in Christian living to help their congregations think theologically about all aspects of their lives, such as work, end-of-life decisions, political involvement, and entertainment choices. Drawing on the Bible, key figures from church history, and Christian theology, this book offers a clarion call for pastors to serve as public theologians in their congregations and communities. It is designed to be engaging reading for busy pastors and includes pastoral reflections on the theological task from twelve working pastors, including Kevin DeYoung and Cornelius Plantinga.
Whether they leave out of preference for another ministry or due to serious conflict, pastors who relinquish parish ministry face misunderstanding and even hostility. Pastors in Transition brings clarity to this little-examined aspect of the pastorate by examining the main reasons why pastors in five Protestant denominations have left parish ministry. The fruit of careful sociological research, Pastors in Transition presents the findings of the largest-ever study of recently ended ministries. More than 900 ex-ministers, representing the Assemblies of God, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Lutheran Church?Missouri Synod, the Presbyterian Church (USA), and the United Methodist Church, were surveyed or interviewed. Besides gathering facts and figures, the book contains personal stories, forthright opinions, and concrete recommendations from former pastors for strengthening parish ministry in the future.
Travel with revered preacher and author Fred Craddock through his early years as he considers what made him take to the pulpit. "For some reason, I felt I had to say 'Yes' or 'No' to the ministry so I could feel free again. My siblings and friends talked almost casually about options and preferences as to careers, but with no evident sense of urgency. Not so with me. I did not then, nor do I now know whether the burden of choice was a trait of personality, a kind of super-conscientiousness, whether the calling to ministry itself carried a weight, a burden, peculiar to the task itself. Rightly or wrongly, when I thought of possibly becoming a journalist, that would be a choice, 100 percent mine. When I considered becoming a minister, that was not totally my decision; I was responding to God's will for me. Of course, I had been told that journalists, lawyers, teachers, merchants, farmers-all could understand their lives as a vocation, a calling, but what I am telling you is that I perceived, I felt, I experienced the idea of being a preacher as different, and that difference was sobering, even burdensome. That's why advice about not being in a hurry, taking my time, was not helpful even if wise. If it was my decision, why could I not make it now; if it was God's decision, why did not God tell me, or at least tell my father or my mother? I prayed for the ache to leave me." -Excerpt from Reflections on My Call to Preach.
What does it take to have fruitful ministry over the long haul?The stresses of pastoring are well known and can be a match for even the best-prepared, most experienced in ministry--multiple tasks, long hours, taxing responsibilities and, yes, some challenging personalities. Too often the results can be burnout, being run out or just feeling worn out.To find out how pastors can thrive as well as survive, the authors undertook a five-year in-depth research project among working pastors. Here in this ground-breaking book is the distilled wisdom of dozens of pastors who have been on the front lines of ministry. We hear from them what works, what doesn't and what distinctive issues people in ministry face.The authors uncover five key themes that promote healthy, sustainable ministry that lasts--spiritual formation, self-care, emotional and cultural intelligence, marriage and family, leadership and management. These themes are unpacked from the vantage point of ministry on the ground. Questions for personal evaluation and reflection are included throughout the book to bring home the significance of each section.This is the perfect companion for a peer cohort of pastors to read together. It can also be of value to church boards and others who want to better understand how to help sustain their pastors in ministry.In short, this is a book pastors can't live without.
The Spirit's Tether: Eight Lives in Ministry tells the stories of eight men and women from their days as students at Union Theological Seminary in New York through their work today as pastors in local congregations over thirty years later. Since 1976 when they entered Union, Malcolm L. Warford has documented their experiences, first in theological education and then through their ministries. Finally, he has asked them to reflect on their vocational journeys and express what their calling has meant to them personally and professionally. The book reveals eight richly textured narratives full of the insight, heartache, and delight that go hand in hand with the practice of ministry--unvarnished truths from eight who have been formed by this work and calling. The Spirit's Tether is a distinctive resource for ministers, congregational leaders, and those in theological education whose role it is to prepare women and men for their sojourns into ordained ministry.
Starting with Spirit is a spiritual and professional resource for new pastors, their family members, and congregations, as well as ministers in every season of ministry who seek to grow in vitality and skill in the ongoing adventure of ministry. For more than thirty years, Bruce Epperly has followed the call of the spirit, moving through his vocations as a congregational pastor, university chaplain, seminary and university professor, and seminary administrator. Drawing on these experiences, he addresses the new pastor's transition from seminary student to congregational leader; pastoral authority; the 'honeymoon;' boundaries; death; the pastor's spiritual life, health, and relationships; the role of the associate pastor; and continuing education.
This Odd and Wondrous Calling offers something different from most books available on ministry. Two people still pastoring reflect honestly here on both the joys and the challenges of their vocation. / Anecdotal and extremely readable, the book covers a diversity of subjects revealing the incredible variety of a pastor?s day. The chapters move from comedy to pathos, story to theology, Scripture to contemporary culture. This Odd and Wondrous Calling is both serious and fun and is ideal for those who are considering the ministry or who want a better understanding of their own minister?s life.
"Homelessness, violence, troubled schools, fraying families - how can people of faith address such deplorable public realities? Through interviews as instructive as they are inspiring, Travelers on the Journey brings readers face-to-face with six socially engaged pastors who serve congregations and communities from rural Arkansas to urban Atlanta."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved
In these chapters, John R. Gunn mentors preachers and seminarians with "cogent, biblically-based reflections" in which he "confronts the realities and stereotypes of ministerial practice and character. . . . His advice, to young and old . . . is a salutary challenge to who we are and what we are to be about." (James L. Waits, president emeritus, The Fund for Theological Education). Men and women led to serve God through church leadership will find this book unfailingly insightful and inspiring.