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Brethren Life & Thought Vol 54 No 1&2 (Winter/Spring 2009)

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This issue offers articles by eight participants in the Sustaining Pastoral Excellence program (SPE).  The writers represent clergy from across the denomination and from both tracks of the SPE program.  The articles cover such topic as: pastoral excellence, leadership-theory and praxis, pastoral revitalization, team ministry, Brethren core values that would influence post-modern Christians, and the importance of cross-cultural experiences.  In addition we have included an article to share the data and conclusions regarding the SPE program from the Church of the Brethren 2008 Pastoral Study Project.

The Brethren Academy partnered with Brethren Life & Thought to publish this double issue.  Funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. grant for Sustaining Pastoral Excellence (SPE) has made this issue available to a broader constituency than our Brethren Journal Association members (subscription list).

 

Coming Alive and Resisting Conformity: Defining Pastoral Excellence
by David R. Miller

Miller's group asked themselves this question: "As persons called to the set-apart ministry, what traits and practices will best help us (and the church) come alive with vital hearts for the world God so loves, while resisting conformity to the world?"  How would you answer this question?

For further study: more questions for reflection (pdf)*

 

On the Road to Pastoral Excellence: A Process of Becoming
by Frances Townsend

Frances Townsend says that strong pastors must "know themselves deeply," have a "sense of self-assuredness," and "cultivate humility and openness."  Insofar as all members of a congregation are ministers, how does your congregation foster these characteristics in its members?

For further study: more questions for reflection (pdf)*

 

Is the Low Fuel Light Ablaze on Your Spiritual Dashboard?
by Glenn McCrickard

Quiz your pastor(s) on the ways they "recharge their batteries" for ministry.  How does your congregation care for its pastor(s)?  In what ways could a sabbatical for the pastor rejuvenate the congregation as well as the pastor?

For further study: more questions for reflection (pdf)*

 

Leadership and Spirituality: The Pastor's Balancing Act
by Sheila Shumaker

"Doing plus being plus thinking equals wholeness."  Which of these - doing, being, or thinking - do you do the most?  Which do you do the least?  What's missing in your life?

For further study: more questions for reflection (pdf)*

 

Image, Story, and Place: Portals to Spiritual Transformation
by Paula Bowser

How does your congregation use stories and artwork in worship or meditation?  Do you have a visual focus for worship in your sanctuary?  What art pieces are hanging in your church building?

For further study: more questions and photos for reflection (pdf)*

 

Going to Get Wonder-fully Messed Up: Core Values in a Post-Christian World
by Jim Zerfing

Jim Zerfing says, "I found myself being called to reject many things within our institutional church and in expressions of civil religion founded on Christianity across the developed world."  Do you agree with Zerfing?  In what ways would you say your congregation practices civil religion, that is, in what ways does the church exist to support government or society in general, and in what ways does it exist purely to serve God?

For further study: more questions for reflection (pdf)*

 

The Greatest Adventure Is What Lies Ahead!
by Dennis Lohr

Dennis Lohr focuses on the emerging church and the important changes in the church in these times that will define what the church is in the future.  How would you say the church has changed in your lifetime?  Why do you think it changed?  Is the worldwide church growing or declining as a religion?

For further study: more questions for reflection (pdf)*

 

Learning by Crossing Culture
by Glenn and Linda Timmons

Glenn and Linda Timmons organized their study around a question, just as the Vital Pastor cohorts did.  They asked, "What qualities, characteristics, skills, and spiritual practices do pastors need to better understand, appreciate, and serve the increasing cultural diversity of their congregations and the religious pluralism of their communities?"  How would you answer that question?

For further study: more questions for reflection (pdf)*

 

Church of the Brethren: 2008 Pastoral Study Project
by Steve Clapp

What factors in your job contribute the most to your happiness and satisfaction? What factors do you imagine contribute most to the job satisfaction for pastors? Discuss the relationship between competence in ministry and job satisfaction for ministers.

For further study: more questions for reflection (pdf)*

 

*You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader (a free download) to view pdf files. 
 


For more information about Brethren Life and Thought, subscription payments, and back issue requests, contact:
 

Subscribe NOW!Managing Editor, Brethren Life & Thought
Bethany Theological Seminary
615 National Road West
Richmond, IN  47374
blt@bethanyseminary.edu
 

For the Book Review Editor:
bltbookreview@bethanyseminary.edu

Monica Rice
Master of Arts

MonicaWhen my vocational calling led me to consider a seminary education, I visited Bethany out of a sense of Brethren obligation. Growing up in a Brethren family and congregation, attending a Brethren college, and then participating in several years of Brethren Volunteer Service, I felt a strong commitment to Brethren institutions. However, I felt ready to experience a different faith community for graduate study. I made plans to attend an urban Chicago seminary, but chose to visit Bethany to know that I had considered it as an option.