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The Job that Pastors and the Church Needs to Be Better Trained to Do

Good News BibleDevotional Thought of the Day:

10 The One who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things. 11 And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness. 14 Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit. 15 But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head —Christ. 16 From Him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth s of the body for building up itself in love by the proper working of each individual part Eph 4:10-16  HCSB

They are to be carefully instructed in the art of directing souls, whereby they will be able to bring all the sons of the Church first of all to a fully conscious and apostolic Christian life and to the fulfillment of the duties of their state of life. Let them learn to help, with equal solicitude, religious men and women that they may persevere in the grace of their vocations and may make progress according to the spirit of their various Institutes.
In general, those capabilities are to be developed in the students which especially contribute to dialogue with men, such as the ability to listen to others and to open their hearts and minds in the spirit of charity to the various circumstances and needs of men.

675    It’s true that he was a sinner. But don’t pass so final a judgment. Have pity in your heart and don’t forget that he may yet be an Augustine, while you remain just another mediocrity.

There is a term I was introduced to when I became a Lutheran pastor.  

It was “seelsorge” or caretaker of souls.  It is similar to the idea in the Anglican Church of being a curate of the church,  The person responsible to see people guided into God’s presence so that their hearts and souls (and often more) can be healed. 

But that just doesn’t include the members of a congregation or parish.  It is the entire community.   As St Josemaria reminds us, those whom we might discount because of their past may be called to something “more.”,  they may become the giants we are looking to as examples. 

It doesn’t matter if they are the mouth of the church, or the heart, hidden away, praying in their prayer closet. Our job as the caretakers is to make sure they have what they need, the ability to depend on God because we know Him.  This drives the ministries of the church, This drives the work of helping everyone mature in the presence of God, 

To help people grow in their dependence (for that is what faith is) in God, to help them grow in knowing and experiencing His love as He is present in their lives, Vatican II was correct.  Those who minister, those of us who pastor and care for souls need to know how to guide them. to help them be conscious of their calling and being sent out into the world, of what Catholics call their apostolate, what Protestants call being missional.

We are to train them, to guide them into the presence of Jesus, into knowing His mercy, His love, His gift that cause us to dwell in peace. This isn’t just the pastor’s job, it is the work of every minister in the church. 

It is who we are… it is why we exist, and it was what we need to be trained to do.  I really think that needs to become more and more how we train our pastors, our deacons, our elders and various ministers of the church.  It is more important than knowing the trivia of scripture or knowing the all the theological information there is.   We have o know God is with us, and we have to teach God will be with them.

We have to know how to use God’s word, to administer the sacraments in such a way that people know they belong in God’s presence, whether they are young or old, male or female, whether their sin is hidden or notorious. Whether they become ushers in the church or the next Augustine or do the really critical work of teaching the children of the church.  (which is all to often overlooked!)

This is the ministry of the church.  The caretaking of souls entrusted to it by God.  Not just the recognized members of the church.. but the church.

Lord have mercy on us and help us to be trained and train people to care for souls.  AMEN!

Questions:
What do you think the hardest part of caring for souls is?

What do you think the greatest blessing is?

 

Catholic Church. (2011). Decree on Priestly Training: Optatum Totius. In Vatican II Documents. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 1568-1570). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Serving Others: Requirement of the Law or the Effect of Gospel?

Devotional Thought of the Day:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

24  Then they began to argue among themselves about who would be the greatest among them. 25  Jesus told them, “In this world the kings and great men lord it over their people, yet they are called ‘friends of the people.’ 26  But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant. 27  Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves. Luke 22:24-27 (NLT)

167  Make up the time you have lost resting on the laurels of your self-complacency, and thinking what a good person you are, as if it were enough just to keep going, without stealing or killing. Speed up the pace of your piety and your work: you still have such a long way to go: Live happily with everyone, even with those who annoy you, and make an effort to love —to serve!—those whom you despised before.  (1)

“Christianity is the only co-operative society that exists for the benefit of non-members  (2)

Thirty years ago, as I was a sophmore (Literally translated ‘wise fool’ and it fit) at a small Bible College, I was somewhat of an idealist.

The school’s motto was that it was to prepare “Servant-Leaders” who would change the world for Christ.  That was our mission, and many of us dreamed of the glory that would occur in our lives.  Some of us would head to the mission field.  Some into congregations where they would minister with children or youth or music, or some as preachers.

Thirty years later, I am less idealistic.  I lost long ago the visions of doing something spectacular in the sight of God and man.  And to be honest, with that burden gone, I find more joy in what i see God doing.  As I heard of how my church members minister to one of their own this morning, as I observed them caring for the new people who visited our church yesterday.  I hear of the sacrifice of others, as they care for their families, even their friends. These may seem to be little things – but it is amazing to observe God’s love pouring out.

At the same time, it is amazing to see the hunger and thirst for God’s word, for the sacraments.  There seems to be this connection between God providing for us, and our providing, in very meaningful ways, for others. There is something about knowing the presence of God, and hungering to be present for others, There is something about receiving Christ’s mercy, about knowing that God is compassion towards us, and is passionate in His care for us. It empowers us, it drives us, it raises our awareness of those who need to know God..

One of my favorite passages to teach/preach/use explains this connection between God serving us, and our serving others…

1  And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Romans 12:1 (NLT)

This is the norm, when you walk with God.  To imitate Christ as He served, serving those around.  Such is the blessing of being a living sacrifice.

I think that may be the problem we have had in recent years. That we’ve made serving God an obligation, that you are only holy if you serve

But what if serving is a way of finding out who we are in Christ?  What if it is a blessing, a gift from God as we realize how He has designed us to live?  What if in serving, we find out how much more God services us?  What if our serving is simply the side affect of becoming children of God?

Servants who lead – because our leader served.

This blog post has wandered a bit today… but there is an obvious need to return to these roots, to live in Christ, like Christ.  For our own sake, to be a church that is more interested in those who are struggling, than in ourselves.  But that can’t be done in a compensatory manner.  It comes as we know, as we experience Christ.  The Lord who served others in life, and by His death, and still serves us today…..

Lord Have mercy by guiding us to show mercy.  AMEN

 

 

 

(1)   Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 916-920). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

(2) Northumbrian Community:   Celtic Daily Prayer,  Entry for May 5

 

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