Monday, October 12, 2015

Stepping Into Vision, Part 2: The Job Description

Pastor of Spiritual Formation and Soul Care

(For Introduction and context please See Stepping Into Vision, Part 1)

*Caveat: this is a general description and would necessarily take on more specific, concrete forms in the context of a particular people, place and time. It is also an idealized vision and will be lived into wherever there is opportunity.
CONTEXT FOR POSITION: The Current State of the Church
This leadership position exists to plug holes in an increasingly fragmented and weary Christian existence for individuals and groups, a fragmentation that has arisen in our day as a result of the loss of teaching on the Kingdom of Godand discipleship to Jesus as the heart of the Christian life. The “Christian life” is simply living the inviting life of one of Jesus’ disciples in our day to day world. The goal of the pastor is to work alongside Jesus as he restores his church to strength and vitality as a thriving community of disciples dwelling in Trinitarian circles of sufficiency, nurturing, teaching and manifesting ever greater experiences of Kingdom participation in the midst of everyday life. As Todd Hunter has put it, the Church is made up of “Cooperative friends of Jesus living lives of creative goodness in the power of the Holy Spirit.”

General Description
To help people follow Jesus by living the restful and inviting life of a disciple together with them in the midst of their actual lives. Following the way Jesus did it, the Spiritual Formation pastor will proclaim the availability of the Kingdom of God, teach about what life in the Kingdom is like, and manifest the reality of the Kingdom in a variety of relational contexts in the form of loving service.
Works with a team of pastors/elders to help inject congregational DNA with Trinitarian awareness and participation, evidenced through regular, easy obedience in everything Jesus commanded and restful, joyful living even in the midst of sorrow and pain.
*My identity as a disciple of Jesus is always more primary than any role I might perform, including that of Pastor. The chief thing I bring to those around me is the person I become.
Specific Tasks
(based on three things that Jesus did: proclaiming, manifesting, teaching the Kingdom of God)
  • To demonstrate the availability of the Kingdom by being available. Create space for people to walk with you.
  • Provide opportunities for every person to engage with God where they are, at this present time, apart from any notion of earning anything or proving themselves.
  • Proclaim fervently and frequently the grace of God, that is, God working in our lives to accomplish what we could not accomplish on our own. Related, the principle of indirection invites us to do what we can to present ourselves before God in whatever ways we are able, trusting Him to do what we cannot.
  • to help relocate the life of faith in the life of God’s STORY; to help create a storied culture of disciples where people are able to step into God’s story as full characters, beloved, from right where they are. Cultivation of a safe and sacred container for the work of God in our midst is the aim.
  • to contribute to a storied atmosphere of transparent humility and brokenness as the normal Christian life, especially for leaders.
  • to help oversee the spiritual health of the leadership and congregation, developing means of measuring progress that are Kingdom-based (fruit coming from abiding in the vine).

  • My primary ministry is in who I am and who I’m becoming in the Kingdom of God. As I make myself available to others in a variety of circumstances, ways and means, others are invited into the process as well.
  • to initiate, develop and facilitate “discipleship labs” where disciples can come together (preferably in small groups) to discuss issues coming up in their training (problems, failures, questions, etc.) These would be deeply practical and experimental meetings with a minimal amount of teaching but mostly open dialogue about what disciples are experiencing as we seek to follow Jesus together. Obviously a groundwork would have to be laid first in basic teaching and experience.
  • to facilitate guided group and individual experiences of both the presence and the absence of God; to train disciples in practicing the presence of God as underlying foundation to everything else.
  • Spiritual Direction/Coaching: to counsel individuals and groups, to offer interpretive possibilities, to listen and walk with others through life. The Pastor needs to be accessible to those in need.
  • to meet with individuals one on one to help facilitate receptivity and understanding of the work of Jesus already going on.
  • to organize and facilitate regular retreat opportunities for leaders and laypersons as testing/resting ground.
  • to provide opportunities for people to experiment and test their engagement with disciplines
  • In order for leaders to survive the authority they have been given they must intentionally create space for obscurity, silence and hiddenness. Otherwise, their fame will eat them alive. Therefore, I will seek to engage in “Service Sabbaths” on a regular cycle, agreed upon by the elder team, of 1-3 months in length every 1-2 years (for example). During this time, leaders have no other duties other than simple obscure service (e.g., janitorial work, clerical work, etc.) without pay being interrupted. Teach how this would cure many ego problems. This is Philippians 2 in action (e.g., Henri Nouwen leaving the University life to enter into the obscurity of L’arche); cf. Matt. 20:25-28)
  • to live out and help implement systems and rhythms that enable people to regularly let go of outcomes and rely on the Trinitarian action in and among them. E.g., letting ministries die, service sabbaths, etc.
  • to cultivate a raw, authentic hunger for God in worship, prayer and community; to help create a pervasive atmosphere of worship: attending to God, responding to God, participating with God.
  • to provide regular opportunities for disciples to test the Lord’s words in Kingdom living; to help create safety & margin for failure. To provide instruction and encouragement to put Jesus’ words into practice where we live.

  • to provide Kingdom context for all of human life; to teach about the Kingdom of Godand the kingdoms of men and the ways they intersect
  • to demonstrate and teach the Trinitarian sufficiency as the context for all living, our new family of origin. (develop: The Trinitarian Field of Loving Action)
  • to teach and preach regularly, in a variety of settings, the Kingdom of Godand it’s progressive fullness through the Scriptures culminating in Jesus Christ.
  • Reclaim terms and their surrounding thoughts/feelings/practices that have been lost or corrupted through religious activity: disciple, grace, Kingdom, Gospel, Bible reading, spiritual disciplines, etc.
  • to reclaim the area of lament for the church, providing teaching and experiential opportunities for God’s people to give voice to their pain in the context of safe community.
  • to design, implement and monitor a Kingdom process for developing leaders who are disciples
  • to equip the church to be the church, guided by the Great Commission (Matt 28:28-30): resting in the authority of Jesus, being and making disciples, living lives immersed in Trinitarian fullness, and learning to do everything Jesus said; all within the practice of Jesus’ authority and continual presence.
  • to seek ongoing training by attending special events/conferences (Crosspoint Ministries with Plass/Cofield, Potter’s Inn, EHS/Scazzero, Renovare, Dallas Willard Center, etc.).
  • to pursue Enneagram Certification and grow in using it as a discipleship tool

  • Though there are no formulas or “guarantees” to the spiritual life there are reliable outcomes, just as children reliably grow into adults when provided the necessary conditions for growth. The results we are getting are a natural result of the system we are in. To experience different results we must experience a different system.
  • Restful, easy lifestyles as we learn to partner with Jesus and participate in Trinitarian work.
  • Decrease in external pressure put on God’s people in order to get them to do things.
  • Congregational capacity to hold others’ stories without the compulsion to fix or judge
  • Rich and fervent worship times together
  • Fractured relationships healed and addictions (in their various forms) let go of.
  • Growing hope for our individual and corporate future in God (Rev 22:5)
  • People who pursue ministry guided and equipped by leadership but not controlled.
  • Solid people who are ready and able to simply do what Jesus did and say what Jesus said, in his confident peaceful manner.
  • People who are learning to be sweet and peaceful when they don’t get what they want.

What the Pastor brings to the church is who he is becoming, his transformed and transforming presence. Therefore, it is expected that care be taken regarded hours worked so that restful rhythms of soul care are maintained individually and in relationships. Boundaries between “work” and “home” are sometimes difficult to maintain but must be, for the sake of both. That said, no more than 40-50 hours will be worked each week, with at least one day of rest where there is no “church” activity. Monthly and Quarterly evaluations will keep tabs on this.

Prayer commitment:
As a vital part of this process, the Lord has called me to regular prayer along these lines:
Lord, the church needs shepherds who are, first and foremost, disciples of Jesus learning from him how to live eternally-now.
Make me into a shepherd after your own heart (form me)
Create a place for me to shepherd and care for others in the ways that are congruous and fitting to this Way of life. (form your people)
Have compassion on your people, Lord; we stand in desperate need of your Trinitarian sufficiency

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