I met with a group of Princeton students last night to talk about how missional theology translates into the parish. With Dr. Guder, author of Missional Church: A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America (Gospel & Our Culture) present, I shared my critique of missional theology - it lacks an active pneumatology. I believe active missional theology requires an active pneumatology. Discerning what the Spirit is doing within individuals and amidst the people creates the backdrop upon which the leader leads.
Missional Theology argues that people in church are called out to the world from the church. Well, yes. Of course. To me, that is simply the definition of church. And I'll admit that my congregation carries a mission statement that argues that each of them are ministers. I am the pastor; they are the ministers. And as their pastor, I cultivate missional theology by discerning he spirit's work within this group of people. That has less to do with Jesus' way and/or mission and more to do with believing that people carry God within us.
We could learn from our Eastern Orthodox brothers and sisters who believe Jesus became human so that we could become divine. We westerners don't like that language. We'd rather constantly point to Jesus – look at this man, this palestinian Jew who lived 2000 years ago, whose message remains today to love God and others. Believe in this man.
Believe in this man? Or believe that this man imbedded the Holy Spirit into each of us?
If we believe the latter, if we believe that God is working and active within us, that there is a force, an energy that moves inside of us... well then we become missional people. The pastor's job is to cultivate the spirit within. And more importantly to dare to call that spirit, God. That's pastoring. Calling what is. Naming.
Hi. I'm a pastor and I name things.
Sometimes it sounds prophetic – sometimes it sounds ordinary. But I'm called to name things that are and even those things that aren't. Isn't that what Paul was talking about in Romans 4? “God calls things which are not as though they are.” Pastors are some of the people (not the only ones for sure) who look for things that are becoming and calls them out. We name them.
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