March 14, 2009

The Shape of Pastoral Life Over the course of our six-week sabbatical, it became evident that there was a theme to our reading, our reflection, our prayer, and to a certain extent even our experiences. We were discovering the shape of pastoral life. From our time in Vancouver Island, visiting Mark Buchanan's church, watching and conversing with a pastor who knows his people by name, to our time away in Florida reading Eugene Peterson's Under the Unpredictable Plant, where he tells the story of his 30 years of pastoral ministry and challenges a return to the sacredness of our call, pastoral ministry was at the core of our reflection and prayer. It even emerged from the pages of my recreational reading of choice, Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring-- though I'm certain it wasn't Tolkien's intent! More on that at some point. So, over the next few posts, I want to share a few thoughts. Some of the things Holly and I read and reflected on are still fermenting in our hearts so to share them would be pre-mature. But other things have already begun to take root and might be worth a discussion. Working the Angles was written by Peterson before Under the Unpredictable Plant, yet they share a similar core and expound on each other. In Working the Angles, the operating geometric metaphor for pastoral ministry is a triangle. In a triangle, the most obvious parts are the lines, yet what gives a triangle its shape are not it's lines, but its angles. So in pastoral ministry, the most obvious elements-- the lines-- are preaching, teaching, and administration. But what gives pastoral ministry its shape are less obvious, more hidden things. They are described in Working the Angles, but expounded on with personal story and the Jonah story as a metaphor...

Glenn Packiam

Lead Pastor, new life DOWNTOWN, New Life Church, Colorado Springs, CO. Author and songwriter.

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