Sunday, December 23, 2007

Changing Times...

I can't really put my finger on it, but it seems like some fundamental changes in thinking are finally expressing themselves in my spheres of life. In ministry, the current models are no longer on the pedestal they were just a few years ago, and are actually being viewed somewhat negatively. It seems like with college ministry 'feels' things a little earlier or more directly than a church, since we have such a narrow audience who is obviously more influenced by new paradigms. 

For me, it's scary but exciting. I've always had a sense that I was not called to ministry in the same way as those who have gone before me--certainly in the foundational part of the call to see Jesus get the glory he deserves in the lives of those who don't know him, but in the manner in which that call is expressed. Up until just recently, the 'ideal' way to express this call in the missional context is through the 'Pastor' route. You, individually, acquire knowledge that others do not have, and by having that knowledge, people tend to follow you more and everything you do seems more legit because you have a seminary degree. In that model, your leadership capacity is not as important as your theological intellect and knowledge base. By not as important I mean that those who you lead were more concerned with your theological intellect and knowledge base rather than your leadership capacity. 

The challenge with the 'Pastor' route in the current post-modern context is that knowledge has become less of a value in the eyes of the follower. The follower seems to value the heart aspects of a leader much more than his theological intellect and knowledge base. Another challenge to adapting and leading in light of this new context is that the 'Spiritual Royalty,' to use a term from Walter Bruggemann,  is still set in the old paradigm and values the 'Pastor' route, and in my experience, cannot even imagine a different model that fits their value system. Especially for those of us who are campus ministers, or involved in parachurch ministry, branching out and attempting to live out the call in this new context is often perceived by the spiritual royalty as illegitimate and 'wrong.' This perception is particularly challenging for us as our financing comes primarily from this spiritual royalty base. 

This is extremely frustrating for me because those with the resources to propel and develop the church and its kingdom leaders into this new climate are instead hindering and developing 'old' areas that are valuable to them, but not as valuable to us and those whom we lead and serve. Right now, there is a significant group of leaders like me who have the ability to bridge this gap and facilitate the transition to this new context. Many of us still value the things of the spiritual royalty, but have been humbled by the need to adopt and develop new skills for our new context. 

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