|Now what do I do?|
Now, forty years later, it is most definitely not enough to have mastered the fundamentals of pastoral ministry including preaching & worship, pastoral care & counseling, church administration, Christian education, and acquiring a friendly personality. It is not enough to be a spiritual person or even to have gained the wisdom of years of life experience. In addition to all of these still necessary skills and qualities, Presbyterian pastors have to be adept at leading congregations in an era that by its very nature is inimical to traditional mainline churches. They have to be skillful at initiating change and working through the conflict and trauma churches facing change often experience. This means being able to think outside of the proverbial box, but it means still more than that. One has to be able to address issues of church decline and institutional drift in ways that will prove most effective in the particular church that the pastor is serving.
Being a mainline Presbyterian pastor in 2012 is daunting.
But here's the thing: it also means that the Holy Spirit is emerging from the cocoon of the church of "we've always done it this way" in new forms and with new power. New ministries are growing out of churches that have shut their doors, and committed members of churches are discovering new depths of spirituality in other churches. Our attention as pastors and as churches is being drawn to ways we can nurture new life—sometimes in the transformation of existing congregations, sometimes in the birth of new churches and ministries. The bad news is that a whole lot of pastors, lay leaders, and churches don't want to be "born from above" in the ways we're being compelled to by the realities of our times. The Good News is that growing numbers do seek to be born from above and ready (sometimes even eager) to move beyond what used to be enough. Amen!