Friday, October 31, 2014

Book Review of The Maxwell Leadership Bible



The Maxwell Leadership Bible
by God/and John Maxwell
ISBN 978-1-40167978-1
Thomas Nelson
Reviewed by Clint Walker

For decades now, John C. Maxwell has been revered both as a ministry leader and as an expert on business leadership throughout the world. He is known for his sequential, step-by-step "laws" that help people grow and develop as leaders wherever they work and live.

The Maxwell Leadership Bible brings together Maxwell's expertise as a minister and a business leader by developing a "study" bible of sorts that goes through Scripture and uses Scripture to communicate the leadership principles he espouses.

The Bible has sidebars and illustrations of Biblical leadership principles on nearly every page. Every book introduction highlights the leadership issues for that particular part of Scripture. There are a few articles in the front of the Bible that introduce principles of Biblical leadership. In the back of the Bible, the leadership laws that Maxwell has developed. There is also a index of leadership issues addressed in Scripture and in this study bible, As well as summaries of several of Maxwell's other books, and how they apply to what you would find and read in Scripture and in The Maxwell Leadership Bible.

This particular resource could have several uses:

  • A devotional guide for a group of leaders
  • A guide for someone who wanted to do an in-depth study of Biblical leadership
For fans of Maxwell and students of Christian leadership, this is a must have book!


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Apprentice Institute Quick Hits: Talk 1--James Bryan Smith




THE TALK


TITLE: LIGHT DARKNESS AND THE YES OF FAITH

Quote from Hans Urs von Balthasar
"God before us explains himself as love. Love radiates from God and instills the Light of love in our hearts."

Galatians 4:19


Formation for mission includes:

1. Recieving the light
2. Letting the light be formed in you
3. Bringing the Light to a darkened world


Monday, October 27, 2014

Book Review of Fleeing Herod by James Cowan


Fleeing Herod: A Journey through Coptic Egypt with the Holy Family


Fleeing Herod: A Journey through Coptic Egypt with the Holy Family
by James Cowan
ISBN 978-1-61261-304-8
Paraclete Press
Reviewed by Clint Walker

What a unique book! Fleeing Herod tells the story of a pilgrimage of sorts by James Cowan as he makes his way through Egypt in the footprints of the Holy Family. In the process, Cowan discusses the intersection and conflicts between history and scholarship, between the politics of Jesus' day and the politics of today, of his own religious traditions and those of Coptic Christians in Egypt. In the process, he allows us to see the story of the Holy Family's flight to Egypt in new light, allows us to hear from some lesser heard voices in the Middle East, and open the doors for some new spiritual insights.

Fleeing Herod reads like an adventure story, a search for hidden treasure for the soul that will keep most readers turning from page to page. Of course, as with any spiritual autobiography from Eat, Pray, Love to Augustine's Confessions, there are going to be parts of the book that hit home with the reader, and others where one just has to chalk up Cowan's perspectives to who he is. Word to the wise though, Cowan does more reporting than editorializing, even though there are points where his perspective comes shining through)  However, whoever reads this book will learn a lot, grow a lot, and be challenged to think about their lives, the world, and Scripture anew.


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Book Review of Ireland's Saint by J.B. Bury w/ Jon Sweeney


Ireland's Saint: The Essential Biography of St. Patrick (paperback, smaller format)


Ireland's Saint: The Essential Biography of St. Patrick
by J.B. Bury w/Jon M. Sweeney
ISBN 978-1-61261-333-8
Paraclete Press
Reviewed by Clint Walker

Ireland's Saint is a classic biography on the life of St. Patrick. First published over 100 years ago, people still regard this fine work as authoritative and the standard on telling the story of the ministry of St. Patrick. Bury was a scholar of the Greek and Roman Imperial history, and his study of the Early Church's expansion to the Emerald Isle is an outgrowth of that academic interest and its relation to his part of the world. For a person wanting to sift through the history from the legend, and to know more about Patrick than a few fanciful stories, this is a great book to have.

The book has some helpful, albeit rather expansive editorial helps from Jon Sweeney. First, Mr. Sweeney moves the summaries of Patrick's life and ministry, and its lasting impact to the front of the book. This, in my opinion, is a wonderful decision. One first sees the power of Patrick's story with this change, and then is left seeking to know more.

Another thing that Sweeney does is insert little annotations in side bars throughout the book that point to issues of discussion among religious folks or scholars, as well as highlighting some of the best of Bury's thought and work.

The text is relatively short. A small paperback that one could easily make their way through quickly. Pick this book up now, while it is on sale ($3 right now at Paraclete's web site), and then read it during Lent as you lead up to St. Patrick's day.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Book Review of the Way of Grace by Glandion Carney



The Way of Grace
by Glandion Carney with Marjean Brooks
ISBN 978-0-8308-3594-2
IVP Formatio
Reviewed by Clint Walker

Have you ever felt like you could not do the things that you used to do, or wanted to do? Have you ever felt like you life was out of your control, and wondered where God was in the midst of that struggle and pain? Have you ever struggled to find God's presence in the midst of persistent pain, disease, or other challenges? If you have, than you will relate to Glandion Carney, and his journey of faith that he shares in The Way of Grace.

This book is a spiritual autobiography and reflection on what it is like to experience God, and find deeper faith while facing Parkinson's disease. Carney centers his story around the experience of God's grace. Throughout the book he shares his physical, emotional and spiritual struggles, and how he finds God to be more and more faithful even as his body falls apart. The book is raw and confessional, with Carney sharing some deeply personal struggles and giving his readers some insight into some not-so-pretty parts of his thought life. It also has a lot of depth, drawing inspiration from saints that lived both decades and centuries ago.

This book is easy to relate to and easy to read. It is also beautiful. As one reads Glandion's words and testimony, one is prompted to remember and be thankful for the grace in our lives as well

Book Review of JOHN: THE GOSPEL OF WISDOM by Michael Card




John: The Gospel of Wisdom
by Michael Card
ISBN
IVP Books
Reviewed by Clint Walker

Michael Card has been a master story teller in his music for decades. He has focused much of his music ministry toward singing the story of God for the ages--with a special focus on the gospels. So, when Card continues his Biblical Imagination commentary series, and focuses on John--who focuses on lengthy narrative--readers like you and I should pay attention to what he hears and what he has to teach us.

As I opened the book, I was impressed that Card not only understands the narrative arc of the gospel of John and the stories within the story, he also deftly handles some of the more subtle theological themes and fields some of the more challenging questions that the gospel of John presents.

This specific commentary could work both as a devotional for many, as well as a commentary series for those teaching and preaching the Bible. It is deep in understanding, and yet accessible to most. I will return to this resource again and again.


Book Review of Coffee with Jesus by David Wiklie



Coffee with Jesus 
ISBN 978-0-8308-3662-8
IVP Books
Reviewed by Clint Walker

A few decades back I became familiar with a magazine that I came to love. It was called the Wittenburg Door, which was later shortened to The Door. It was a witty book full of sarcasm and wit from a Christian perspective. After a while, the magazine was bought by a group that had an ax to grind against televangelists. While I shared their antipathy for television preachers, I felt that the quality slowly declined in their magazine after the sale.

About a year or two ago, I discovered  Coffee with Jesus and its regular appearances on Facebook. I grew to love this wonderful mix of humor and exhortation as well.  The premise of the comic strip is that Jesus has regular encounters with ordinary folks at a local coffee shop. Most of the characters are close to middle-class and white. Satan also makes an appearance, as does a preacher in his collar from time to time.

Jesus clearly exhibits love and acceptance in these comics, but often "calls 'em as he sees em'". He does not avoid challenging the hypocrisy of folks in his sphere of influence. He also does not play the game of giving "church answers" to questions his friends come to him with. He is smart, witty, painfully honest, and compassionate. And, as you listen to him talk to others, he makes you smile.

This book is arranged topically. This allows the reader to search by issues or seasons of the year. I am tempted to scan copies of this book, and use specific strips in PowerPoint presentations for worship from time to time. The messages are that challenging and thought provoking. But, I am not sure what Jesus might say to me the next time we got together for coffee. :)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Book Review of the Accidental Revolutionary by Jerome Dean Mahaffey



The Accidental Revolutionary
by Jerome Dean Mahaffey
ISBN 978-160258391-7
Baylor University Press
Reviewed by Clint Walker

This book was released several years ago. And, a few years after receiving it, I am just getting down to posting a review of The Accidental Revolutionary by Jerome Dean Mahaffey. Let that not color your impression of this fine book or the reviewer however. The book is not really time-sensitive. And the thoughtful material takes some time to read, digest, and consider.

To make a long story short, Mahaffey's thesis is that George Whitfield's preaching and teaching helped galvanize and form the United States of America, and what he taught gave them philosophical underpinnings and theological justification for the revolt that would come in the colonies just a few years after his death.

Whitefield was unique. He was a Calvinist, and a revivalist. He was admired by the deist Benjamin Franklin, and had along and complicated relationship with John Wesley and his friends. He was born in England, but he died here in America, and his unique and dramatic preaching style was best received in the States.

From early on, Whitefield ordered his life and ministry as he felt led by the Spirit, even if that chafed against his peers and ecclesiastical authority. He took church meetings out of buildings and would speak in outdoor settings (which caused no little uproar, especially in England). He preached without notes. He went more where he wanted to go than where he was directed to go. He was led to faith by the Wesleys, but then adopted some theological beliefs that were not very compatible with them.

Certain ideas began to develop in his preaching and his conversations with folks, especially Americans. He gave people permission, through his preaching, to question authority. And his preaching began to plant the seeds that military revolt was justified in order to experience the freedom that God called his people to live in.

As the Declaration of Independence was written and the Revolution fought, people often felt they were fighting, in some sense, a holy war. Whitefield gave the colonists the theological groundwork to come to these conclusions. That is why some proclaim, "No Whitefield, no revolution" (ix)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Quick Hits about the Kiss of Grace by Michael Frost at Sentralized 2014









THE TALK

Living by the Kiss of Grace


  • The kiss of grace insists that we must be present in the moment
    • Must be present in the moment
    • Must avoid the temptations of fear and laziness
    • Must understand NOW is the only time to respond to him
    • You did not meet Jesus 20 years ago, you are meeting him TODAY, NOW
  • The kiss of grace insists that we must throw all our faith on the goodness and the grace of God
    • Trust in the fundamental truth that Jesus loves you
    • Grace tells us that we are accepted by God just the way we are
  • The kiss of grace insists that we live with gratitude
    • The best motivator for mission is gratitude
    • "No one will remember me, no one will remember you, but we have been kissed by the grace of God, and that is enough

Quick Hits from Bob Roberts presentation at Sentralized 2014




THE TALK

Bob Roberts is a pastor of a megachurch in Dallas. He has had a suprisingly effective ministry with Muslims around the world. In DFW 40 percent of residents are born in non-English speaking countries(this does not include the high numbers of East Indian folks). There are 500,000 Muslims in the Metroplex.

He talked about being a witness in the public square.

"We Christians don't like the public square because we don't know how to be normal when we live in the public square"

Tips

  1. Respect authority
  2. Practice civility
  3. Stay calm under pressure
"The World is Open, We are Not"


Quick Hits from Caesar Kalinowski's presentation Sentralized 2014


Caesar Kalinowski

THE TALK


  1. Don't believe the do=be lies anymore.
  2. Understand that the mission is God's not yours
  3. Be filled with the Spirit
"We treat the Holy Spirit as the weird uncle of the Trinity"
"The point of the cross is to be filled with the Spirit"

What does the Spirit do?

helps, reminds, convicts of sin, leads, counsels, reveals, proclaims Jesus, knows the heart of the Father, advocates, guides. THESE THINGS ARE HIS RESPONSIBILITY, NOT MINE.

Ask "What's next Lord"

Instead of trying to figure out the Master plan, trust the Master who has the plan

Quick Hits from Brad Brisco's presentation at Sentralized 2014



THE TALK

I don't have the best notes on Brad's presentation, in part because much of his talk is also summarized in his book THE MISSIONAL QUEST.

But here is what I have

"There are no unsacred places, there are only sacred places and desecrated places"--Wendell Berry

He referenced Oldenburg--Great, good place

And he talked about three places where we experience life

First places--Home. Our missional practice there is neighboring.  We should offer Biblical hospitality. This is different from entertaining. Hospitality speaks of the LOVE of the stranger. In order to do this we need to have margin in our lives, because "relationships happen in the margins"

Second places--Work

Third place--Where we hang out. Our missional task in these places is twofold
1.  Identify and engage third places
2. Create third places
3. Support and defend third places


Insights from Christena Cleveland at Sentralized 2014


I Peter tells people not to be meddlers. In that context, meddling refers to trying to get non-Christians to be forced to live by Christian standards

The movement of transformation of communities and societies moves in this way:
Incarnation
Reputation
Conversation
Confrontation
Transformation



Kim Hammond's Sentness workshop and Sentralized 2014



THE TALK

We need to ask, are we a selling church or a sending church?

No one talks about postmodern stuff because we are now already there

How do we make the transition from selling to sending?


  • Begin to know the language of the people you want to reach
  • Understand their culture
  • Put yourself in proximity to people outside the church
We need to stop selling to people and start sending people. 10 percent are non-adopters. 10 percent are early adopters. Eighty percent of people in our church are waiting to be trained and sent

We need to share life with people. We are friendly but we don't love each other very much. diatribio--for skin to rub through skin because one is in close enough proximity

TAKE HOME
There is no real mission without proximity to those you are trying to reach


Starfish and Spiders and Church Movements Ori Brafman and Neil Cole at Sentralized 2014

How does one do starfish innovation in a spider organization?

  • Another question: how does one become an adaptive leader
  • Adaptive leaders should
    • Remember: Good artists copy, great artists steal
    • Create emotional bonds via networks
    • Repurpose ideas
In order to create a culture for starfish innovation one should...
    • Invite unusual suspects to the table
    • Create white space
    • Give circles specific models to solve
    • Shed spotlight on success
    • Change context and start again
(Cole)
Multiplication happens from micro to macro
    • start by reproducing disciples
    • then reproduce leaders
    • then reproduce churches....
Instead of joining a movement of God for people we try to create a movement of people for God

Concentric circles in multiplication
2-3-- life change
12-15--connect
25-75--place to train and equip
120-150--a tribe
300-500--a community that can set a culture


Quick Hits from the Missional Agenda for the Neighborhood Workshop by Michael Frost at Sentralized 2014



---Missional is more and different from recruitment to our brand of mission or ministry

--It is alerting everyone to the fact that YAHWEH reigns
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!"--Isaiah 52:7

  • The mountains were places of idol worship
  • This was in Babylon
  • God says, "It is beautiful to proclaim my salvation THERE"
God's reign is utter, total and complete. Even it sometimes appears to be fitful, partial and mysterious.

If the only thing our neighbors know about the reign of God is what they see in you, what would that look like?

Would there be wholeness/shalom
Would it be relational
Would people see reconciliation
Would they see fear and laziness
Would they see justice and equality
Would they see beauty


Quotes from Nathan and Richard Foster's Presentation of Nathan's Making of an Ordinary Saint



"Love is a far greater motivator than guilt"--Nathan

"Virtue and vice are both deeply ingrained habits"--Richard

"We are learning to enjoy God--RELAX"--Richard

"Distraction is the great enemy of the soul today"

Those who have the wind of the Holy Spirit move forward--even in sleep"--Brother Lawrence


Quick Hits from Sentralized 2014--Neil Cole



THE TALK

The church we are accustomed to was born in a previous era and will never be repeated, and the training you have received has not prepare you for what you are about to experience.

Change is the order of the day

How are things different:

            • Credentials loose relevancy in a day
            • Education must be constant
            • A leader is no longer a bridge to the future
            • Resources cannot be banked--everything is unsure
            • Strategic decisions are not planned, but done in the moment
            • Expertise is no longer a currency because change is so fast
            • Traditions are irrelevant

This means we need multiplication growth instead of addition growth

How would you respond if 100 came to Christ in day in your ministry
Or 1000 in a week? Would you be equipped? 

Mulitiplication growth is necessary to reach a growing population with the gospel

This means we need to shed dependency and release control
Be less invested in the "stuff" of church


One of my favorite moments from Apprentice 2014



On Friday morning at the conference I went to last week, I went into the classroom where there was a presentation from Richard and Nathan Foster, based on Nathan's new book. There were two seats available at the front of the room. I sat in one next to a sweet little old lady. We got in a conversation. She asked where I was from. I said I was from Hot Springs, SD. She said, "Oh we were just there!" She recounted how in the last few weeks they had been through town, stayed at the Sundowner Best Western Hotel, got a bite to eat at the Subway, and then spent the rest of the next day visiting Mount Rushmore and Wind Cave National Park, like she and her husband did when she was first married.

Our conversation ranged all over the place. I showed her pictures of my wife and family, which she loved. She talked about her love for the 700 Club. Then she said her family was with her. Her name was Carolynn. Her husband was Richard Foster, and her son was Nathan Foster. They were the presenters today. Her grandkids, she said, were to my left, as was her daughter in law and her kids.

She asked me if I had read any of her son and husband's books. I said I had purchased Nathan's new book, and read several of Richard's books. Buy Nathan's other book, she said, "Because, you know, the grandkids need new shoes."

(I have been tempted to buy the book. But it is about a father and son reconnecting relationally. And since my father seems to have no desire to have a meaningful relationship with me or the kids, I think it would just piss me off)

We talked about weight loss, diet, and she and my wife being breast cancer survivors. It was one of the highlights of the trip. I almost asked her to autograph her son's book, but I am not into that autograph stuff (I think it leans toward celebrity worship).

I spent most of the week in Dallas at Sentralized trying to find ways to be social with folks at the conference, and although some folks were friendly, I found it to be a very cliquey event with a lot of insider culture and a clear lack of openness to other folks that did not seem to be invested in their "tribe". Almost like a denominational conference, only focused on a different organization and the practice of ministry. There were notable exceptions, but that is a general gist of how things felt.

Then I get to this new conference. And someone seeks me out, instead of me having to be friendly. And the person that I met and had one of the best conversations about life, faith, and family with just happened to also be the mother and wife of two of the presenters.

Quick Hits from Alan Hirsch--Sentralized 2014



THE TALK

The talk began by discussing "What does it mean to be a movement"?

Examples of movements were shared. They included:
The Ancient Celts
The Reformation Era Moravians
The Wesleyan movement

Mark of a movement #1--
Embracing the call to REPENT

  • In order to learn, we need to unlearn
  • Must embrace the need to begin again



Mark of a movement #2--
(my shorthand here) PRIESTHOOD OF ALL BELIEVERS
  • Every believer is a church planter
  • Everyone is the seed of a movement
  • Every believer has the potential for church in them
  • Every cell has the DNA of the body of Christ in it
Movement killers in the church

1.  Non-discipleship of the church (what Dallas Willard calls the Great Omission)
  • You can do more wit 12 disciples than 1200 consumers of religion
  • Christianity without discipleship is a discipleship without Christ
  • If you don't want to hang out with Jesus now, what are you going to do with eternal life
  • Problem: The Catholic attempts to institutionalize grace through sacramental theology
  • Church needs to be always reforming
2.  The clergy-laity divide
  • Creates dependency
3.  We lead too much with service
4.  By supressing the agency of women

"The greatest truths are remembered not discovered or invented"

THE TAKEAWAY

The pastor-centered model of ministry will not work if the church is to reach the world today. The Spirit's work is too big to be managed or contained by one executive.



On the ethics of ministry transition

My denomination has a code of ethics. That code of ethics says this: that when pastors leave their churches, they must "sever professional ties" with their congregations. This means a lot of things, and is intentionally both harsh and vague. It is vague because if a person were to get overly specific, it would both be too burdensome of a policy and would not universally apply. It is harsh enough however to paint a clear picture--the former pastor must vigilantly self-police in order to make sure she or he does not interfere with the ministry of the current pastor. In order to do this, the exiting must erect boundaries, turn away from certain conversations, and seek to empower the incoming pastor to actually be their church's pastor.

Most other denominations have similar ethics, whether stated or unstated. This really is also for the benefit of the former pastor as well. One of the best part of being a former pastor for me is being removed from the drama of the church I left. Much of the time, it is part of the reason I left.

Each church I have served has had a person around it that struggled with these boundaries, in one way or another. In Kansas City, it was not as much of an issue because the former youth pastor was a supporter and became a really good friend. He did however serve on the youth team. He and the church knew the importance of supporting the youth pastor, and there were no problems. And, the position was very part time.

My second position in Kansas City had some of these issues, but it was a different structure from the start. The previous person in my position was burned out in his work and moving out of the position, but then upset and disappointed he was not in the position he left in the first place. In other words, I knew what I was getting into, even if I did not expect all the challenges that presented themselves. And, it was not a traditional church position to begin with, so the normal rules did not apply.

In Montana, the previous youth pastor and I were opposites in many ways. He was a fundamentalist, non-denominational guy. I was called from straight out of the denomination's seminary. I was intellectual and pensive. He was impulsive with attention deficit. He was more fun than I. I was more strategic than he. The challenge was that key student leaders maintained a relationship with him, and even brought him in to speak at our annual youth rally. I tried to make friends the best I could. But, I hated being put in competition with him. The loyalty of some folks in that church almost destroyed my ministry in Montana, and the unwillingness of my predescessor to sever ties did not help. Nevertheless, God blessed and I still feel supported and remembered fondly by that church.

My tenure in Colorado Springs did not create as many concerns. Many (but not all) of my presescessors were not held in high esteem. The interim in my position before me was the children's minister. This created a little tension, but it was not a bad situation.

My Fowler pastorate brought challenges of previous pastors on at least two fronts. First, the previous full-time pastor's wife was on the phone with several people in our church at least once a week, as was the pastor to a lesser extent. They would discuss pastoral care concerns, what the church spent money on, and just about everything else.This input would then be relayed in monthly business meetings. Worse, the previous pastor's wife would relay financial concerns, and money would be solicited from people in the church, and people outside of the church. This money would then go to the previous pastor to buy him new tires etc.

He was also dying of cancer. Thus, we would hear about his health concerns every Sunday, for approximately 3-5 minutes, in every worship service. I was so relieved when he finally went to be with the Lord. Our church could finally move forward.

At the same time there was a gentleman that was an interim at the church immediately before I arrived. He made efforts at being the new senior pastor, but the church rejected that. He also attempted to lead the church out of the denomination, which made him a less desirable candidate for the church.

This interim was always trying to return to the church. He came to kids graduation. He came to community religious events in our town of 1000 people. He visited people, and made every effort to get to the hospital before I did. Interestingly, he had a reputation for not visiting very much as an interim. However, he always beat me to the nursing home and to other visits. He lost his other ministry job, and he was around even more. He came back to worship at times. And to preach.

At this point, the denominational executive gave me some wise advice. He said, "You can try to fight this behavior, and I will support you for establishing those boundaries. But it is a battle you cannot win." I took this advice to heart. I did so because it was true, and because when I was honest with myself, people valued him as a friend but did not care to call him as their full-time pastor.

Now am at a church in South Dakota, and I am dealing with a situation with the previous pastor that is more challenging and difficult than any I have ever experienced before. The pastor is relatively well-liked, is still living in the community, and still often attempts to both play a pastoral role with folks and undermine my pastoral authority with the people I serve.

From the beginning it became clear he wanted to yield an influence on the church he left. He left a note for me when I arrived to tell me who the "big" givers were. Within the first week he was camping out in the office, talking to the secretary, and telling me his biggest regret was not having more input and control over the Christian Education ministry (for which he had staff) in the later years in his pastoral tenure.

Within a few months a member of the church lost a son. He let me know that the child had died as he was on his way to beat me over to the family's house to visit them. Before I got to see them, he had inserted his wife into the music program of the funeral, and helped plan a lot of the service.

He continued to participate in, and at times lead the small group with most of the church's active leaders in it. When another member had chosen a book for study I had used in Sunday School, he complained about it constantly--in part, I believe, because he did not choose it.

Anytime there is a missions banquet, a birthday celebration, and more he is there. He is sharing how people are streaming to the local churches he serves on behalf of his denomination, most of which are members (now former members) of our congregation.

He met with our lay leader to discuss my administrative decisions, and offer evaluation.

His wife has even worse boundaries. She inserts herself in conflicts in our church. She starts bible studies for disaffected members. She discusses the validity of my sermons with members of our personnel board.. She works her way into choir and special music numbers in our congregation.

This was posted on November 6, but buried here in my blog for personal reasons.

she performs in our church, her husband attends worship. The first time they returned was on an Easter Sunday. The message was clear, Jesus and the pastor had both made resurrection appearances. Later, when she sang, he waited until I got up to preach, and then walked out of the service to attend another church.

He has worked for the funeral home for most of the time since I arrived. This means there has not been a funeral I have done at the church that he has not attended. While I handle the logistics behind the scenes, he gets to welcome everyone as they come in, share memories and offer care to folks as they walk in the door, and offer gifts to the family on behalf of the funeral home at the end of the service. One person said as they were dying, "You will get to lead the service, and Pastor ***** will get to take me to my grave and put me in the ground."

Last year, his denomination placed him in a congregation just outside our town of around 4000. People from the church that are close to him have went out there to join that church for worship and sometimes for membership. While serving there he has been visiting members of our church without even informing me he was doing so.

This placement makes me frustrated with the denomination as well. It seems to me that since we are a federated church that won't have their denominational leadership in the area for some time, that the denomination is encouraging this lack of boundaries. They want to pull members from our church to a congregation that is more purely loyal to their denomination.

Last week I was going to visit a person in hospice care and their family. As I arrived, the previous pastor was sitting there with family making plans for the death of the congregant of our church. While he tends not to horn in on pastoral care of folks that are low-income and not prominent, if the person is well-known and regarded in the community, he wants in. This family is well-known not just in teh community, but is world-renowned. So, he is working his way into doing the funeral himself. I have visited the deceased person weekly for months. However, it is hard to compete with a pastor who has been here eleven years when I have not even been here three. So, I don't try to compete. But that does not mean I am not hurt by the family, and angry at the former pastor.

There is a reason why denominations encourage a pastor to sever ties. If they don't, the new pastor has a hard time ever being treated and accepted as the pastor. It means the former pastor doesn't have to do the work of ministry needed, but they get much of the benefit.

The challenge I am facing today is, how do I deal with this forthcoming funeral when the previous pastor horns in? How do I deal with an aggressive denomination in our federation without boundaries? What is the best for the church in the long haul? And how to do I get the previous pastor to respect boundaries in the future? Or is this all my problem and my issue, and I should not be frustrated or offended. I am at a loss.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Book Review of Psalms for Everyone Part 1 by John Goldingay


Psalms for Everyone, Part 1

Psalms for Everyone: Part 1
by John Goldingay
ISBN 978-0-664-23383-9
Westminster John Knox Press
Reviewed by Clint Walker

I have become quite attached to the New Testament for Everyone by NT Wright. After all, who can argue with having a resource where someone as strong of a thinker as Tom Wright being able to explain the Bible, passage by passage, in a way that just about anyone could understand?

So, when we got to the Old Testament, and the For Everyone series was being authored by someone I had hardly heard of, I was suspicious. Would the high quality of the commentary series continue? Would it be worth investing in slowly adding to my collection of commentaries by bringing in the OT part of this series as well.

So, I found a way to get this book to review. And, as I looked through it, I have to say that I am pleasantly surprised by John Goldingay's work. The commentary does a great job at putting the passage into perspective, sharing its context, and some of the important literary strategies that the Psalmist is using. I think Goldingay might do a little bit better job at relating the truths of Scripture to everyday experience, especially in this study on the Psalms.

I am going to keep collecting these as I can, and add them to my collection of the "For Everyone" Series. I think you will be blessed by doing the same.