A D I A LO G I CA L R E S O U RC E FO R N A Z A R E N E C L E R GY
ISSUE 17 | SUMMER 2018
Ministry in a Connected Culture
U S A / CA N A D A R E G I O N , C H U R C H O F T H E N A Z A R E N E
THE NATIONAL BLACK NAZARENE CONFERENCE PRESENTS
August 2 -5, 2018 Westin Hotel | 601 South College St. Charlotte, North Carolina 28202 Hotel prices $109 + tax for single or double | Limited suites are available for an additional fee To make reservations, call 1-866-837-4148 and ask for the National Black Nazarene Conference 2018 Room Block or make your reservations online.
Online registration is available at usacanadaregion.org/nbnc2018 Early registration (until May 30, 2018) — $25 (adult), $15 (youth, 13-17), free (children, 12 and under) Late registration — $35 (adult), $15 (youth, 13-17), $5 (children, 12 and under) On-site registration — $40 (adult), $30 (ages 0-17) First 100 to sign up receive free gift
Dr. Carla Sunberg
Rev. Althea Taylor
Rev. Eric Lee
Rev. Albert Tyson
Rev. Charles Tillman
Dynamic Preaching | Workshops | Multicultural Congregations Workshop Track | Family Conference Youth and Children’s Program | Special Pastor’s Luncheon | Exhibits | Battle of the Choirs The conference is open to anyone interested in effectively ministering to the Black community.
Contact Info: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mi ni s tr y i n a Co nne c te d Cu l t u re A QUARTERLY MAGAZINE OF THE USA/CANADA REGION CHURCH OF THE NAZARENE
Grace & Peace Summer 2018, Issue 17 www.graceandpeacemagazine.org Bob Broadbooks USA/Canada Regional Director Managing Editor | Charles W. Christian > CChristian@nazarene.org Associate Editor | Jeanette Gardner Littleton > GPmagazine@nazarene.org Layout & Design | Caines Design - JR Caines ADVERTISING OR OTHER INQUIRIES PLEASE CONTACT: CChristian@nazarene.org or call (913) 577-2837
This publication is a dialogical resource for pastors and ministry practitioners affiliated with the Church of the Nazarene. Its purpose is to increase ministry effectiveness, stimulate theological and missional reflection, and promote healthy dialogue among its print and online readership. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced without written permission from the managing editor. Among other things, Grace & Peace Magazine commits to the following priorities for its readership: leadership development, theological identity, new church development, missional outreach, and church renewal. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the NIV: From The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® (NIV), copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Our Perspective: We seek to continue the tradition of the early Church of the Nazarene that sought to integrate the diverse theological and methodological voices in the church. We seek to be a movement of people who care about the same things, but not in the same way. Yet, always maintaining that difference is not the savior—Christ is. We seek to be informed by missiology and cultural anthropology, which gives permission to innovate and seek renewal. We want to be open to listen, value, and pay attention to a variety of structures, missions, and programs, while affirming our commitment to the Wesleyan theological tradition. We seek methodological innovation in response to a changing culture as we work to make Christlike disciples in the nations. Questions? Email the editor at GPeditor@nazarene.org.
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C O N T E N T S
G & P I S S U E 1 7
SUMMER ISSUE 2018
I N VO CAT I O N : N ot J u st “ G ett i n g S m ar ter ” by Ch a r le s W. Ch r i sti a n
GP INTERVIEW: Trends in Nazarene Clergy Education, Part 1 An Interview with Dan Copp and Stan Rodes
The Call: Standing at the Crossroads by M . K i m S mi th
Re t ire m e n t : To Leave or N ot to Leave by Do n Cowa n
Th e I mp o r ta n ce of Lay M i n i st r y E d u cati o n by L a r r y M o r r i s
H i s p a n ic / L a t i n o M i n i ster i al E d u cat i on by Ro b e r to Ho d gso n
GP INTERVIEW: Trends in Nazarene Clergy Education, Part 2 An Interview with Harold B. Graves
B ui ld ing a S ol i d F i n a n ci al Fou n d a t i on by Bi ll K i r ke mo
Th e M ini ste r as a Li felon g Lea r n er by S te p h e n Bo rge r
SEMINARY SPOTLIGHT: Trends in Nazarene Clergy Education, Part 3 An Interview with JerenRowell
Why Se m ina r y ? by Reb ecca Rod eh eaver
Cha ng i ng M y N am e to Pa stor by B en Cre me r
F ive Ways to Have G rea t S ta f f M eet i n g s a nd Bo a rd M e e ti ngs by Kevi n M c Do na ld
Pa sto r wi t h a P h . D ? by S teven J oh n s on
B eyo nd B i b l i cal Li teracy: B ecom i n g F l u e nt i n th e Wo r ld o f th e Bi b le by De a n Blevi ns
F R O M T H E A U T H O R : F i ve Q u est i on s : J o e Go r ma n, H e althy. H ap py. H o ly.
B O O K R E V I E W: He a l t h y. Ha p py. Ho ly. Revi ewe d by Jo h n Co msto c k
B O O K R E I V E W: Let U s P rey Rev i ewed by Ti na Pi ta mb e r
B O O K R E I V E W: N e u ro s c i e n ce a n d C h ri stian Fo rm atio n Revi ewe d by Za c h a r i a h E lli s
B E N E D I CT I O N : T h e C a l l i n g by B ob B ro a d b o o ks
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FROM THE EDITOR
NOT JUST “GET TING SMARTER”
confess that some aspects of education have always come easy to me, at least until college. I remember doing well on spelling tests and math drills in the early days of education. I remember making the honor roll in high school while not really managing my time as well as I should have, especially since I had a myriad of other activities occupying my time in ways that sometimes overshadowed my study time. I remember college being a wake-up call for me in regard to time management: My extremely extroverted personality found more interactive ways to occupy my time than by simply sitting for hours in a library preparing for an exam. This almost did serious damage to my college career, but by God’s grace, I was able to graduate. Then, something even more miraculous happened. My path toward law school changed. This path was part of an interest I had since my childhood years watching my father, a police chief in a small Texas town, enforce the law. Even though I felt a strong call from God into ministry when I was about 16, I convinced myself that God would be satisfied if I ministered through the law, serving churches as an active participant. However, toward the end of my college years, I became more miserable, even as I adjusted to the discipline and demands required to get through college. The summer before my senior year of college, my pastor called my girlfriend (soon to be my wife) and me into his office: “The board and I have been praying about someone to help on staff part-time, and your name has come up,” he announced. Edna, my bride-to-be, looked and me and said, “That’s why you’ve been so miserable!” It dawned on her and on me at the same time that I had
indeed been running from a vocational call to ministry. My law school plans changed to seminary plans, and that is when education became a passion for me. Despite my personality, God instilled a fervor within me to further my education while I served kind and encouraging people as a youth pastor and then a few years later as a senior pastor, newly married and new to seminary. The insights from my formal academic studies challenged me and gave me a stronger sense of direction in my calling. Serving as a pastor while also pursuing a seminary to degree helped me to filter, apply, and reflect upon what I was learning in real life. Even better, God provided mentors— men and women in the classroom and outside the classroom. These were people about whom I could say, “When I grow up, I want to be more like them!” These examples, along with my classroom experience, helped keep me in the ministry. More than 25 years have passed since that conversation in my pastor’s office on a Wednesday night. I have finished three degrees since then, but the best part of my education has been the way the Holy Spirit has translated all of that course work in the context of the community of faith, under the direction of mentors and colleagues who are part of this wonderful and diverse tapestry called the kingdom of God.
CHARLES W. CHRISTIAN
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USA/CANADA REGION CALENDAR July 30–August 1
July 31–August 2
Church Planting Training, Kansas District
National Black Nazarene Conference 2018
Sunday School Promotion
SDMI Leadership Conference
Tell the Story
NTS Preachers Conference
September 23–November 1
Engage the Word Emphasis
Spark: MidSouth District
2018 Ignite Conference
Spark: Great Lakes
MULTICULTURAL MINISTRIES WELCOMES VARIOUS GROUPS
The Southeast Asian Fellowship is one of the groups the Multicultural Ministries hosted this summer.
This summer, Multicultural Ministries hosted several gatherings. Among them were the Southeast Asian Fellowship (pictured), Chinese Ministries pastor and spouse retreat, the Portuguese Ministries Conference USA/Canada, USA/Canada Samoan Conference, National Nazarene Haitian Convention, and Hispanic Pastors’ Kids’ Conference.
For more information about these events, see: www.usacanadaregion.org/events
SDMI LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE The SDMI Leadership Conference will be held September 11–13 at Springdale Church of the Nazarene in Cincinnati, Ohio. The conference includes resourcing for district SDMI chairs, district superintendents, and district directors of children, youth, adult, CLT, as well as local Sunday School and small group ministry leaders and workers. There will be opportunities for networking with others in each ministry field. District and Local Sunday School and Discipleship Ministry leaders are encouraged to attend this annual gathering. The event will feature workshops and plenary sessions featuring Filimão M. Chambo, Holly Catterton Allen, Mark Bane, LaMorris Crawford, Daryl Blank, and more. Registration deadline is August 10, with a discount deadline July 31. The event will also feature a New Chair Orientation September 10–11. For more information, see www.lc18.org
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NYI WELCOMES TEENS FOR Q In June, Nazarene Youth International USA/Canada hosted Q, a youth quizzing event for the USA/Canada region that occurs every two years. This year, approximately 350 quizzers attended the event at MidAmerica Nazarene University, competing on one of nearly 130 teams. About 300 coaches, volunteers, parents, and others also participated.
NATIONAL BLACK NAZARENE CONFERENCE TO BE HELD IN AUGUST The National Black Nazarene conference (NBNC) will be held in Charlotte, North Carolina from August 2–5, 2018. Sponsored by Nazarene Black Ministries, the conference aims to equip Nazarene ministries and all other persons interested in effectively ministering to the Black community. The Black Nazarene Ministries Leadership is extending a special invitation to all multicultural churches and will offer a multicongregational track.
The Black Strategic Readiness Team and NBNC Committee.
Speakers and musicians include Carla Sunberg, Albert Tyson III, Althea Taylor, Eric Lee, Charles Tillman, Albert Hung, Junior C. Sorzano, Carl Leth, Robert Lanier, Susan Carole, Anthony Brown and Group TherAPy, and more. Children’s and youth programs will also be available. For more information, see www.usacanadaregion.org/ nbnc2018
THE DISCIPLESHIP PLACE OFFERS FREE WEBINAR On July 26 from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m., The Discipleship Place will offer a free webinar on “Discover the Journey.” In this webinar, Paul Dazet and Jennifer Coffman will guide participants to look at a pathway of spiritual formation utilizing courses at The Discipleship Place—guiding believers into an encounter with the revolutionary love of Jesus. This discipleship strategy encourages a culture of participation in the work of the Holy Spirit, while being transformed into the image of Christ. To read more about the leaders’ experience, see http://www.nazarene.org/article/ indiana-church-reformulates-discipleship. To register for the webinar, go to: discipleshipplace.org.
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M19 ANNOUNCES PLENARY SPEAKERS The Mission 2019 (M19) leadership team has announced plenary speakers for the upcoming USA/Canada regional conference, February 11-13, 2019, in Kansas City, Missouri. “Our prayer is that these articulate presenters, along with a host of other special session and workshop leaders, will help us move deeply into the topics of mission and evangelism,” said Bob Broadbooks, USA/ Canada regional director.
Featured speakers at M19 include: ALBERT AND CHRISTINE HUNG Albert Hung is superintendent of the Church of the Nazarene’s Northern California District. Before his district assignment, Albert and Christine served as pastors of Trinity Church, a multi-site, multi-ethnic church serving the English, Spanish, Chinese, and Filipino communities east of Los Angeles, California. Albert has also served as the international chaplain for Azusa Pacific University. Christine Hung serves as director of pastoral development for the Northern California District.
DOUGLAS POWE F. Douglas Powe Jr. is committed to helping urban congregations and congregations in transitional areas flourish through community partnering. Powe is the new director of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership and has authored several books.
ED STETZER Ed Stetzer holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and serves as executive director of the Billy Graham Center. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors, and church planters on six continents. He also serves as visiting professor of research and missiology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and visiting research professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
CARLA SUNBERG Carla Sunberg, one of the general superintendents of the Church of the Nazarene, has previously served the church as president of Nazarene Theological Seminary, in pioneer ministries on the Russia North District, as a pastor, and as a co-district superintendent with her husband, Chuck. Also a president of the Wesleyan-Holiness Women Clergy, Sunberg has authored or co-authored several books.
FILIMÃO M. CHAMBO Filimão M. Chambo was elected to the office of general superintendent in the Church of the Nazarene in June 2017 after serving as director of the church’s Africa Region since 2009. Before serving in the regional office, Chambo’s ministry experience included pastoral positions and Christian higher education at NTC-South Africa, and at Seminário Nazareno em Mozambique, where he later became president.
SDMI PARTNERS WITH CHILDREN’S WORKER EVENTS Sunday School and Discipleship Ministries USA/Canada is partnering with The Foundry Publishing and invite all children’s workers to attend Ignite conference, October 1–4 in Kansas City, Missouri. Speakers include Tim Suttle, Stephen James, Robbie Castleman, and Gustavo Crocker. For more information, see http://www. igniteconferencekc.com. Most of our regions are also having SPARK retreats for children’s workers. Learn more at http://www.usacanadaregion.org/sdmi-event-calendar.
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J U LY 10 -1 4 , 2 0 19 # N YC 1 9 G O N Y C2 0 1 9 .C O M
INTERVIEW TRENDS IN NA Z ARENE CLERGY EDUCATION, PART 1: A n Inter view with Dan Copp and Stan Ro de s I N T E R V I E W E R: C H A R L E S W. C H R I S T I A N Charles W. Christian, managing editor of Grace & Peace (GP), interviewed three leaders in Nazarene higher education regarding current trends and future goals of clergy education in the Church of the Nazarene. This first interview is with Dr. Dan Copp (DC), Education Commissioner and Global Clergy Development Director of the Church of the Nazarene; and Dr. Stan Rodes (SR), Administrative Director for Global Clergy Development in the Church of the Nazarene.
G P : W H AT A R E S O M E I M P O R TA N T CURRENT TRENDS IN CLERGY E D U C AT I O N I N T H E C H U R C H O F THE NA ZARENE? D C : First of all, there are more opportunities for higher education due to increased access. So, education has become more diversified. In the past, most clergy followed a fairly traditional path: a bachelor’s degree from a Nazarene university, seminary study, and then move into full-time ministry. S R: Now, with the rise of “second career” pastors, coupled with expanded opportunities for study, clergy can prepare through courses offered on their districts, online, extension centers, or a combination of all of these. Because of these and other changes, there are also a growing number of ordinands who have degrees from nonNazarene schools. GP: HOW DO CHURCHES , SCHOOLS , AND DISTRIC TS WORK TOGETHER I N E D U C AT I O N A L PA R T N E R S H I P ? D C : The model we use is three circles. One circle represents the local church, the second represents districts, and the third represents the education provider. These circles overlap, and right in the middle of all of that is the man or woman preparing for ministry. That dynamic partnership expresses how the Manual describes the process of clergy education toward ordination. The calling
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and the initial discussions begin in the local church. The district assists in the credentialing and review process. The educational providers are tasked with supplying approved resources for clergy preparation and development. The ongoing work of the office of Global Clergy Development is to assist in making sure all three of those “circles” are well-equipped to guide and resource the candidate for ministry. S R: And now that we know that the average ministerial candidate is in his or her early 40s, it is important that these three entities work together so candidates have full access to the wide range of available opportunities. G P : W H AT I S T H E I M P O R TA N C E OF MENTORING THROUGHOUT T H E E D U C AT I O N A L P R O C E S S A N D B E YO N D? S R: That is a conversation I have been very involved with in recent months. Districts are trying to find the best answers to that concern. There are components in the education process that require some kind of mentoring relationships, including supervised ministry courses. Mentoring also involves the local church, especially local church pastors. We are seeking to provide more resources to assist local pastors as they seek to mentor ministerial candidates. Also, district boards need the ability to provide guidance for substantive mentoring on the district level.
D C : The course of study materials in every region are vetted through a thorough process involving advisory committees. One common element is the requirement for supervised ministry. This is a requirement in every district in the world: Candidates for ministry are expected to be involved in the local church in a supervised ministry setting. GP: DESCRIBE THE WORK BOTH OF YO U OV E R S E E R E G A R D I N G T H E VA L I DAT I O N O F M AT E R I A L S F O R C L E R G Y P R E PA R AT I O N . S R: That is one of the most pressing needs we encounter, and it is probably the hardest aspect of clergy development to regulate and accommodate. There are components in the education process that require some kind of mentoring relationships and supervised ministry experiences. This is a great example of where local churches and pastors can benefit from training, and many district boards are working in partnership with pastors and congregations to develop effective ways to mentor young clergy. D C : This is a global challenge, since every region in the Church of the Nazarene has a common requirement of supervised ministry. So, we are seeking to meet the need for every region of the Church of the Nazarene to have effective mentoring through local churches and districts. In our role, we hope to come alongside our regions and our districts to help ensure that regardless of the size
and location of districts, there are vetted materials that can help equip mentors and connect ministerial candidates with quality education and mentoring. Our regional course of study committees (RCOSACs) are essential in this process. G P : W H AT A B O U T M U LT I C U LT U R A L ASPECTS OF MINISTERIAL P R E PA R AT I O N ? S R: The USA/Canada Region is finding it absolutely essential to be able to make use of resources that come from off the region. We have pockets of different nationalities throughout the region. So, we may have churches utilizing curriculum resources from West Africa for their Congolese students. We have the Myanmar groups that are accessing our schools in places like Indianapolis, but the only resource for training is really coming from Southeast Asia. So, interregional resourcing is becoming a bigger factor in clergy education. D C : Each region has its own RCOSAC that receives a curriculum, assesses it, and decides whether or not they would recommend it. When they recommend it, an international course of study advisory committee (ICOSAC), made up of representatives from each of the regions, approves every program. The growing diversity in each region has made this kind of international evaluation and approval crucial, even though at first there was discomfort in regard to having an
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international committee approving all of the regional materials. Regional directors asked one another, “Can we trust each other enough across the regions to say when something is validated in Africa, it can be used in other regions if needed?” The answer was “yes,” and this was an important component in regard to how we now train ministers globally. S R: Yes, we are now seeing that without this interregional approach, many congregations would lack sufficient means to train ministers who take up residence and plant new ministries outside of their home countries. GP: TECHNOLOGY BRINGS THESE REGIONS TOGETHER, AS WELL , RIGHT? D C : Video and internet technology allow, for instance, Spanish-speaking residents in the United States to receive training in Spanish with validated curriculum from one of our Latin American regional centers. S R: Many districts are benefitting from these advances. G P : TA L K A B O U T T H E I M P O R TA N C E O F C O N T I N U I N G E D U C AT I O N F O R C L E R G Y, E V E N A F T E R O R D I N AT I O N . D C : Since coming to this role, Stan has helped us better articulate this need and has also helped us provide innovative ways to make this happen. S R: Emphasizing continuing education begins with reframing how we look at ordination. Ordination is not the place where you finish your education. It’s really more of a point of initial competency, which means the church is saying that we have enough confidence in you to ordain you and launch you into a lifetime of ministry. We need more than initial competency, though. We need situational or contextual competency. This comes from ongoing growth in the context of ministry, and this is an equally important part of being an ordained minister. One way we have addressed this is through our lifelong learning registry, which is a self-reporting system designed to facilitate lifelong learning
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for every minister (learning.nazarene.org). It is meant to not only help ministers report their learning experiences, but also to help them shape their learning experiences in a variety of ways. The concept behind the 20hour minimum is not for ministers to focus on simply complying with the minimum, but for them to be thinking in terms of being a lively participant in lifelong learning. D C : According to the Manual, ordination education is based on some foundational components—being, knowing, and doing— and then the four areas: Content, Context, Competency, and Character. So, lifelong learning takes those same components and presses them into the future beyond ordination. As Stan is saying, we are hoping to change the DNA of the church in regard to how we view ordination: it is a doorway to lifelong learning and development, and not the end of one’s educational journey. G P : F I N A L LY, J U S T W H AT I S YO U R U LT I M AT E V I S I O N F O R C L E R G Y E D U C AT I O N I N T H E C H U R C H O F THE NA ZARENE? D C : The earlier image of the synergistic partnership between the local church, the district, and our schools stewarding the call of God upon a woman or a man. When God calls someone, there’s a sense in which the local church, the district, and the school have an obligation to come alongside and help steward that call. The team that Stan and I work with is challenged to help make sure all three of these are adequately resourced. S R: I think Dan summed things up well. I would add that we are particularly focused upon bringing those resources together in ways that make sense in a global context, recognizing the changing needs in each region. DAN COPP serves as education commissioner and director of global clergy development for the Church of the Nazarene. STAN RODES serves as administrative director of global clergy development for the Church of the Nazarene.
t happened more than once while I was pastoring. Someone would meet with me and declare, “I think God is calling me into the ministry.” Of course, they didn’t always state it exactly that way, but that was the clear message. They had heard the voice of God calling, and now they were at a crossroads that would change their lives forever. Their ministry journey had started. In the early days of ministry, I don’t think I fully grasped what a sacred moment that was for me as their pastor and mentor. I was being invited to endorse and assist them on their journey and to help them interpret exactly what God was stirring in
M. Kim Smith
their hearts. What kind of call were they experiencing? Were they being called to a deeper commitment as a faithful lay person, or was God calling them to be “set apart” and pursue ordination in the Church? In some cases, they were quite clear about what they had heard and how they needed to respond. However, many times this fresh stirring would need to be processed and interpreted. The interpretation and response that I helped them formulate would impact their lives forever. As a pastor, I have also served for many years on district credentials boards, where I have had the privilege of interacting with hundreds of men and women who were working to fulfill their requirements for ordination. The highlight of these meetings
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i t i s v e r y l i k e ly t h a t y o u r
influence has stirred up in them the desire t o b e m o r e d e e p ly c o m m i t t e d t o
and now it is your privilege to
d i r e c t t h e m i n way s t h at w i l l a s s i s t t h e m to mature as a disciple of
a n d e v e n t u a l ly
an ordained minister in the church.
is hearing the candidates’ testimonies as they retell the story of their calling and to witness the way God is shaping their lives toward fulfilling His call. There were those for whom I have felt very sad. They were the men and women struggling to meet the basic Manual requirement that each candidate “possesses gifts and graces for public ministry, and has a thirst for knowledge, especially for the Word of God, and has the capacity to communicate sound doctrine” (section 502). These district boards stand with them at the same crossroads they faced when they first shared their journey with their pastor. However, the credentials board bears the burden of either redirecting their calling or allowing them to pursue ordination. In those moments of redirection, I have often wondered if their pastor might have been able to give closer guidance and courageous mentorship during their initial meeting times. As I reflect on my ministry and the many opportunities I have had to stand at the crossroads of someone’s calling, I realize what a privilege it was to be invited to participate in their journey as a mentor. Pastor, it is very likely that your influence has stirred up in them the desire to be more deeply committed to Christ and His Church, and now it is your privilege to direct them in ways that will assist them to mature as a disciple of Jesus and eventually an ordained minister in the church. Below are a few considerations for pastors who are presented with this sacred opportunity to stand at the
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crossroads of the calling to ministry with men and women entrusted to your care. In the words of the Manual, our role as pastors includes a mandate to: “Nurture the call people feel toward Christian ministry and mentor such persons, guiding them toward appropriate preparation for ministry” (section 515.10). 1. G o
slow , and help them to know .
It is normal for a high level of spiritual enthusiasm to accompany a fresh encounter with the living God. As we celebrate this moment with those expressing a call to ministry, we begin by helping them define the parameters of the call. The call of God comes to each of us in unique ways, but God always works within clarity. Before we rush to grant a local license, it is wise to spend time celebrating and discerning the clarity of the call. Grandparents and parents have great influence in our lives, but they do not call us into ministry. Pastors and Sunday school teachers have great influence in our lives, but they do no call us into ministry. I remember struggling to discern the call of God in my own life. One evening while I was speaking with my mother about my struggle, she told me that she had known for nine months that God was calling me, but she had refused to mention it to me because she had confidence that I would eventually hear it clearly from God.
Mentor in such a way that the one who has been stirred has clarity and confidence that God is the one who has called. The Apostle Paul expressed his calling clearly in Romans 1:1, when he referred to himself as “a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God.” 2. I nvest
in them , and help them grow .
Many times, when the call of God comes, individuals may not have the spiritual or emotional maturity for ministry and may not demonstrate the gifts and graces of the Spirit right away. Areas of growth and healing that God desires can be greatly facilitated through intentional coaching and mentoring by a pastor. After a season of mentoring and coaching, it may become obvious that some do not have the capacity or willingness to allow their lives to be shaped in a way that meets the standard for ordination. Legal or relational issues in the candidate’s past should be addressed early in the mentoring process. Although these circumstances in their lives before Christ do not nullify their sense of calling or their usefulness in the church, some may become reasons for that calling to be redirected away from ordination and toward lay ministry in the local church. Pastors have the privilege and responsibility to assist in that discernment process. 3. K now
when to say ,
“Y es ,
it ’ s time to go .”
As a pastor, when someone shares his or her call with you, he or she is seldom aware of the journey that lies before them. Full disclosure of this process can be overwhelming and daunting. Sometimes, it is best to spend a season celebrating their calling, allowing them to testify to it before the congregation, and begin the process of engaging in some ministry activities such as preaching, teaching, and pastoral care. This season will give you time to examine and evaluate their progress and their sincerity and commitment to the radical changes that lie before them as they begin their educational and practical preparation for ministry. Once they have received their local license, their willingness to be under authority through coaching and
correcting will be an indicator as to how they will do in the process. The decision to recommend for a district license should only be done once the pastor and the local church board feel confident that the candidate has clearly expressed a call to the ministry and adequately demonstrated his or her willingness to come under the authority of the church in all matters pertaining to future preparation. 4. H ave
the grace and courage to say ,
this way .”
“N o ,
With God’s help and grace, it is sometimes necessary to speak to someone at the crossroads and courageously say to them, “No.” This part of our sacred responsibility should only be done after careful examination of our own heart and life, as well as an honest examination of the candidate’s qualifications for ordained ministry. However, the “no” should only be spoken as a, “No, not this way” and not as a, “No, you can’t do ministry,” or “No, you’re not good enough.” It will take wisdom and courage to know how to frame this conversation, but it is essential. It is reckless for a pastor to recommend a candidate to the district for a license when the pastor has not done due diligence in preparing and examining the candidate. God’s call to ordained ministry is an amazing and life-changing event that should be celebrated and treated with great awe. As pastors, we are called to invest our lives in helping those who are called to clarify the call and to embrace the direction that call is taking them. We are called to stand at the crossroads with them.
M . KIM SMITH is district superintendent of the Iowa District Church of the Nazarene.
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but a person who was being made by that very career. So, when I left vocational ministry, part of me seemed to remain, leaving an emotional void and a psychological puzzle to greet me in retirement. Filling
To Leave OR
Not To Leave by
ll careers, even those of people devoted to ministry, come to an end, whether voluntarily or involuntarily. I retired as a pastor in the Church of the Nazarene by choice. After countless hours of prayer and long days of number crunching, God opened the door for me to retire. To leave or not to leave: That was the question! Shakespeare’s well-known inquiry from Hamlet—“To be, or not to be: that is the question”—applied in regard to retirement does not have to imply something as dark as Hamlet’s contemplation of suicide! However, it is a momentous decision that, for me, had unseen consequences. One consideration was the financial aspect. Second, like all who are called to Christian ministry, I was a person who not only made a career for all those years,
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Almost immediately after celebrating my retirement from a church I had served for many years, I began to realize I faced many gaps that needed filling. Through prayer, support, and patient trust, these gaps are being filled, and they are not uncommon for longtime ministers who no longer have a congregation to lead. 1. Reality Shift and Identity Crisis: The first transition was a reality shift. Retirement involves a kind of grief. It is both an end and a new beginning. As a result, I began to experience a wide variety of emotions: loneliness, boredom, feelings of uselessness, and even disillusionment. Getting acclimated to this new normal required answering intimate questions: Who am I now? Why do I exist? What is my purpose in life? What do I do now? Answering these questions would be the key to unlocking the door to understanding my new reality and my new identity. 2. Routines and Relationships: I discovered I was clinging to wrong assumptions regarding my new role in life. I had not considered the psychological adjustments that accompany this lifestage, which include coping with the loss of career identity, replacing support networks a person has through his or her work, spending more time than ever before with a spouse, and finding new and engaging ways to stay active. What I needed most was to establish new routines in four areas: Physical Health: Consistent exercise routines and healthy eating habits gave me focus and energy. Deepening my intimacy with God: Engaging in new study routines and keeping my mind sharpened by reading good books are two priorities that have filled the void left by the absence of weekly sermon preparation. Social Interactions: I needed new activities and relational routines to replace
time normally spent ministering to my congregation. Also, I needed to establish new interactions with my spouse and other family members, given the fact that I was at home more than ever. Meaningful Ministry: I needed new ways to be involved in church life, since I was no longer the pastor. These new routines included finding ways to disciple, to be discipled, and to connect with people. I knew I needed routines that would give me support, significance, and a strong sense of satisfaction and fulfillment. If this is something you face, too, find places you enjoy going where you will meet other friendly people. The gym, golf course, church, coffee shop, volunteer activities, and small groups through a local church are all places to start expanding your social circle. I got involved in the pastor forums through my local Nazarene university (SNU) for continuing education and social connections. I joined two small groups, which I am now leading. I got involved in a new church, mentoring men and participating in church activities. 3. Finishing Strong: Retirement can be a fun experience. I’m having great days, because I have decided I’m not really retired. I have just started a new chapter in my life, and I’m going to finish strong. I am learning that in order to do this, I have to be deliberate in my planning and take responsibility for what I want my life to be like in retirement. I am developing new goals that are still ministry-centered, and as I do so, I am learning not to be surprised if my experiences and feelings fluctuate from fun to dull, certainty to uncertainty, excitement to anxiety, or anticipation to fear. When these feelings shift, I am learning to identify the source of uncomfortable feelings and then address underlying issues. Do Not Retire Alone
I reached out to family members and support groups after my retirement. My brother-in-law, who is also retired, reminded me: “Don’t just fill your time, but fill yourself.” Scheduling events gives you reference points for future excitement. It’s also okay
to take downtime. You remain significant to those closest to you: your spouse, parents, siblings, children, and grandchildren. In fact, retirement can make your discipleship role in their lives more significant than ever since you now have time you once did not have. I connected with a group for retired pastors and their spouses near where I now reside. Many of the pastors helped me through this process. This group is a place where we share feelings, fears, hopes, and dreams with others who are thinking about, experiencing, or who have successfully negotiated this transition. Asking New Questions
When I retired, I had to unlearn being the leader and accept my new role as a participating servant. I was no longer the pastor. However, for strength and significance, I have leaned on the spiritual disciplines I learned and taught while I was a pastor. Staying close to God has given me a more confident and positive attitude about this next stage of life and ministry. All things considered, “To be, or not to be” is not the real question. The real issue is: What are you becoming? What will your legacy be? You can still finish strong. It’s your choice. As the apostle Paul says, we are “forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead” (Philippians 3:13). God wants us to take time to enjoy the beauty of His creation and the fruits of our labor. Reaching retirement age doesn’t mean that your mission in life is over. God still has much work for you to do as you continue to live out His plan for your life: “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).
DON COWAN is a newly retired pastor in the Church of the Nazarene, having served congregations in Texas, Alabama, and Arkansas. He and his wife, Cheryl, now reside in Edmond, Oklahoma.
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THE IMPORTANCE OF LAY MINISTRY EDUCATION by
L a rr y M o rr i s
s I reflect on the many ministry courses I took in college and seminary, I realize most focused upon the clergy responsibilities of preaching, teaching, and administration. Few courses focused on the role of pastors in lay education and discipleship. Those areas of ministry were assumed to be the responsibility of Sunday school teachers or small group leaders, who hopefully utilized a denominationally approved curriculum. As I emerged from academia to pastoral ministry, I discovered the importance of being personally involved in lay education and discipleship. It was an eye-opening experience which led to a
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new appreciation for the need for intentional lay education. L ay E d u cat i o n : N e e d
Dean Blevins, professor of discipleship at Nazarene Theological Seminary, writes about the critical importance of pastors accepting their responsibility for educating (discipling) laity in the local church: “Discipleship is necessary to maintain a biblically, theologically, educated laity in the Church of the Nazarene . . . [A]ny ambivalence toward educating the laity reveals an equal ambivalence toward the discipleship of all Christians . . . As ministers, we must accept our mandate to disciple everyone, because the people of God need discipling to be the body of Christ. Failure here lets down the entire body of Christ, not just the laity . . . An informed laity sustains movements, resists temptations both outside the church and within, reforms, renews, and transforms the people of God into a force for the
and our mission to make Christlike disciples in the nations, the Church desperately needs a well-educated laity. On the USA/Canada Region, there are over 615,000 lay members in the Church of the Nazarene. According to Scripture and Wesleyan theology, each one of them is a minister of the gospel, regardless of their vocation. While many may not have official responsibilities on Sunday, all of them communicate their understanding of the gospel and of holiness every day to their coworkers, neighbors, and families. What would happen within our congregations if each of them were educated and mobilized for the Church, as God intended them to be? Finding
Women and men in our pews are hungry for a deeper understanding of God’s will for their lives—one that helps them make sense of this complex culture. They desire to be a vital part of God’s mission. What they need is the affirming support of the pastor and resourcing from the church.
and men in our pews are
hungry for a deeper understanding of
will for their lives—one
that helps them make sense of this complex culture. Kingdom of God” (holinesstoday.org/
Dr. Blevins notes that throughout history, a well-educated laity has preserved the movement of God and has been at the forefront of evangelism and church planting. Given the challenges of the current culture
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Finding adequate resources is not the issue. There is a treasure trove of downloadable resources for lay education in the Church of the Nazarene at the DiscipleshipPlace.org, the official lay ministry resource of SDMI. It is designed to partner with pastors in equipping laity for ministry. However, two important additional elements are needed but are often overlooked. The first one is pastoral support that comes through relationship.
wisdom of his ministry efforts eventually became apparent. Through his presence, he earned trust and the right to ask questions about their lives and priorities. As a result, even oppositional members of the board became partners in the mission of the church. Other lay members began to hunger for more of God’s direction, entered the course of study, and stepped up to lead an outreach ministry. Only God knows the number of barriers that were overcome simply
well-educated l ait y helps to
maintain the momentum experienced in times of revival and renewal.
L a y E d u c a t i o n B e gi n s R e l at i o n s h i p
Duke University professor L. Gregory Jones writes of his experience with influential lay people in an article entitled, “Asking More of Laypeople”: “[L]ay people yearn for deep relationships with Christian leaders. We can nurture that relationship by entering the worlds where laypeople live, think, and work–not seeing them primarily as church volunteers and funders” (faithandleadership.com/l-gregoryjones-asking-more-laypeople). My father was a master of the art of pastoral presence. He spent hours each week with key lay leaders of the churches he pastored. He sat and drank coffee with businessmen at the local café. He helped farmers harvest their crops. He visited the businesses where church members or potential members worked. As a child I wondered how drinking coffee, helping farmers with the harvest, and visiting businesses had anything to do with building the kingdom of God. However, the
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because he joined them in their world and listened to their concerns. Current popular culture drains the schedule. It is when crisis comes that we survey our surroundings and change our priorities. The best opportunity for education comes as a result of being present during these crisis moments. With adults, personal crisis moments are not always self-evident. They happen at significant moments of change— both positive and negative. Whether a child’s baptism or the death of a family member, the Holy Spirit can utilize transitions to guide us into rethinking our priorities. The second element that pastors commonly struggle with in the area of lay education is patience. The Wisdom
Growing up in Colorado, I became acquainted with a number of farmers. Regardless of the crop they were harvesting, they all had to learn patience. The process is always the same: preparing the soil, planting the seed, fertilizing, watering, and protecting
the growing plant. All of this took place over the months of spring, summer, and fall. I overheard a table of seasoned farmers talking with a new farmer about the difficult spring they were experiencing. The new farmer was concerned that the unseasonal weather would destroy a promising crop. He believed he needed to change crops immediately and therefore rescue the season. The older farmers offered some sage advice: Don’t plow up your planted fields. Give it more time, and the crops will come in. They were right. Pastors can be like that young farmer. They get anxious, because they don’t see the immediate growth in their congregations or in individuals, so they move on to something else. That is a mistake. We must give time for the fruit of our labors to emerge. Every time we change our approach, we communicate that what we were doing before was not valuable or was a failure. However, more often than not, we don’t give the idea opportunity to take root and grow to maturity. Pastors, like farmers, need patience with the process. Some laity will engage at a deeper level of ministry education when they experience personal need. Others will spring to life when the Holy Spirit prompts them with a need they see in someone around them. As pastors, we need to remember that God will be faithful if we are patient. We know from church history that the education of laity is crucial to the life and future of the Church. A well-educated laity helps to maintain the momentum experienced in times of revival and renewal. We also know that the personal priority that a pastorleader places on lay education has a profound impact upon the effectiveness of a local congregation in carrying out the mission of the Church. Given the mission of the Church of the Nazarene, let us give lay education the attention it deserves.
L ARRY MORRIS is the coordinator for Sunday School and Discipleship Ministries (SDMI), USA/Canada Region, Church of the Nazarene.
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Hispanic/Latino Ministerial Education by
ulticultural Ministries has approached several Nazarene educational institutions to partner with them to provide ministerial preparation initiatives for men and women of the USA/Canada Region. As a result, a number of valuable partnerships have developed. As stated in Nazarene Essentials, “We are committed to Christian education, through which women and men are equipped for lives of Christian service.” In an effort to serve the Nazarene Hispanic/ Latino constituency, Nazarene Bible College (NBC) has developed a Spanish language B.A. program: “The B.A.Min. degree with a Hispanic Pastoral Ministries major is the primary degree offered to persons who wish to prepare for service as a pastor, evangelist, or missionary. Completion of the Hispanic Pastoral Ministries program requirements fulfills educational requirements for ordination as elder in the Church of the Nazarene” (nbc.edu). Another program from NBC to prepare ministers that God is calling from among the ethnic Nazarene constituency is the Multicultural English Ministry Preparation Program (MPP). The MPP is a non-degree program that exists to prepare men and women for ordination as elders or deacons in the Church of the Nazarene. This program is specifically designed for minorities whose primary language is English. Olivet Nazarene University offers a Master of Ministry in Spanish. It is completely in Spanish and is designed around for key areas of graduate level ministerial formation: biblical knowledge, theological knowledge, analysis and design of ministerial practices, and personal spiritual development and formation (see graduate.olivet. edu/programs/ministry/master-ministryspanish). Since its launch, several cohorts have graduated from the program. The graduates are serving in ministry across the USA/Canada
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Region and in Puerto Rico. Some of them are teaching at their district ministerial training centers. In the fall of 2015, Nazarene Theological Seminary introduced a Spanish Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) cohort program for the USA/ Canada Region. Six students from this cohort completed the last courses of their program in the spring of 2018. ENTE online, a Spanish ministerial education program using the USA modular curriculum for ordination, was launched in 2015 to assist districts and local churches in the task of training men and women for ministry. ENTE offers two courses each trimester. The instructors are professionally and vocationally qualified ministers dedicated to forming a new generation of Hispanic/Latino pastors and lay leaders to serve the growing Hispanic Nazarene constituency. Over 150 students have enrolled in the program since it began. There are close to 30 Spanish language district training centers in the USA/Canada region that offer the modular curriculum for the ordination track. Approximately 800 students are preparing for ministry in these centers. Multicultural Ministries is committed to honoring the commitment of the Church of the Nazarene “to Christian education, through which women and men are equipped for lives of Christian service . . . Christian higher education is a central part of the mission of the Church of the Nazarene” (Nazarene Essentials).
ROBERTO HODGSON is director of multicultural ministries for the Church of the Nazarene, USA/Canada Region.
INTERVIEW TRENDS IN NA Z ARENE CLERGY EDUCATION, PART 2: A n Inter view with Harold B . G rave s I N T E R V I E W E R: C H A R L E S W. C H R I S T I A N Managing editor Charles W. Christian sat down on behalf of Grace & Peace (GP) with Dr. Harold B. Graves (HG). Dr. Graves has served as president of Nazarene Bible College since 2006.
G P : W O U L D YO U B E G I N B Y DISCUSSING THE UNIQUE ROLE THE NA Z ARENE BIBLE COLLEGE HAS P L AY E D A N D C O N T I N U E S T O P L AY I N N A Z A R E N E C L E R G Y E D U C AT I O N S I N C E I T S F O U N D I N G I N T H E 1 960 S ? HG : When the idea of the Bible college was discussed and brought into the conversation of the church in preparing ministers, there were only two methods in the U.S. to become credentialed in the Church of the Nazarene. You would either go to a liberal arts university (or at that time, a college) with traditional-aged students. At that time, most of our colleges and universities didnâ€™t have adult programs like they have now. You could also do the home study course. So, there was a pool of second career adults that felt a call to ministry, that were past the age of going to a traditional-aged college, and were frustrated, I think, with the home study course. At the 1964 General Assembly, the assembly voted to establish Nazarene Bible College (NBC), along with MidAmerica Nazarene College and Mt. Vernon Nazarene College. NBC opened in 1967 with no building or property. We ended up in Colorado Springs, thanks to some donated land. The school had the idea of providing education to second career adults, which was revolutionary at the time. Of course, this was before schools that targeted that age group and before online programs. The first year NBC enrolled around 117 students and very quickly grew to around 800, with both day and night classes and wonderful chapel times.
GP: THIS SECOND CAREER GROUP T H AT N B C E N V I S I O N E D R E AC H I N G IN ITS BEGINNINGS IS NOW THE FA S T E S T G R O W I N G D E M O G R A P H I C I N T H E O L O G I C A L E D U C AT I O N . H O W H A S N B C A DA P T E D I N O R D E R T O C O N T I N U E T O R E AC H T H I S G R O U P ? HG : In the 1980s, when Dr. Jerry Lambert was president, two trends affected the development of the school, including the decentralization of education and a growing need to connect with interested adults seeking to further their education. The first step was taking education to people instead of simply asking the people to come to the college. NBC began doing this by partnering with districts to offer extensions of the Bible college on the district with approved instructors and curriculum. At first, this created challenges in regard to accreditation. To deal with this, NBC formed district alliances that could give academic credit through the evaluation of portfolios. We still have these kinds of alliances today. Like all of our universities, NBC is accountable to our RCOSAC (regional Nazarene accrediting body), and I believe that the more that this process is standardized and overseen by our regional and international course of study evaluating body, the easier it is for students to navigate their way through the ordination process. GP: IN ADDITION TO THESE DISTRICT ALLIANCES, NBC HAS ALSO BEEN A PIONEER IN N A Z A R E N E O N L I N E E D U C AT I O N .
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drives us is the mission
of preparing men and women to evangelize, disciple, and serve
HG: That is correct. We are in our twentieth year of offering low-cost online education. Through online studies, students can complete the course of study for ordination (called MPP programs) or full-degree programs. Initially, we used a variety of online delivery systems over a period of time, until Fred Phillips was convinced that we could build our own system. I believe that we were the first Bible college in America to offer online education, and we were certainly first Nazarene institution to do so. At first, we allowed many schools, especially schools outside of the U.S., to use our platform and our materials as needed. Now many of these have their own materials and online platforms, and of course there are many of our Nazarene schools that now utilize online education. G P: T H E E XPA N S I O N TO O N L I N E E D U C AT I O N S E E M S TO F I T W E L L WITH THE ORIGINAL VISION OF NBC TO TA K E E D U C AT I O N TO A D U LT S W H O CO U L D N OT CO M E TO C A M P U S . HG : Yes, it does make sense for us. At first, we were not even going to have dorms at NBC, but that gradually changed. Now, since our transition to the Global Ministry Center, we again have no dorms. So, all of our students get their training through our online program. When NBC started, the only models we had were traditional models. Even though the model we used is normal, exemplified in places like the University of Phoenix and elsewhere, we were extremely innovative for our time, and we hope to continue that kind of innovation. In fact, as
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president, when I travel to various districts and churches, the most rewarding part of my job is hearing former students who approach me with tears in their eyes and say, â€œI would never have gotten ordained without Nazarene Bible College.â€? G P : N B C I S AC T UA L LY N O W ASSISTING DISTRICTS IN THE T R A N S C R I P T E VA L UAT I O N PROCESS, RIGHT? HG : Yes, we assist a number of district boards of ministry in evaluating student transcripts, taking that administrative burden off of these boards. This program continues to expand. G P : H O W I S YO U R R O L E A S PRESIDENT OF NBC INFORMED BY YO U R Y E A R S A S A PA S T O R A N D A DISTRICT LEADER? HG : I served over 24 years as a pastor, and when I was serving in Cincinnati, I was elected to the board of trustees for NBC. This role allowed me to look more deeply into the history and the ministry of NBC, and I became more aware of the men and women who had been trained for ministry by the school. Later, when I served as a district superintendent in Oklahoma, I worked with many NBC graduates and continued my work as part of the board of trustees. When my predecessor, Dr. Sanders, retired, the board did a nationwide search, and my name came up for a vote. By then, after serving on the board for 18 years, I was familiar with and enthusiastic about the mission of
NBC, and I accepted it as the will of God and of the church when I was elected. This role has helped me to see more of the work of the church throughout the world, and it has also allowed me to encounter NBC students serving in all parts of the world. G P : TA L K A B O U T N B C ’ S M OV E T O THE K ANSAS CIT Y AREA . HG : From the beginning, NBC has tried to keep track of the innovations and changes happening in regard to higher education, especially among adult students. What surprises many who are unfamiliar with NBC is that it is in our DNA to try and stay a step ahead of those changes. So, it is not so much that online education ended the NBC campus—that is just not the full picture. NBC moved from providing education through extension courses, to district alliances, and now online. Decentralizing adult education is what we have always been about, and this new move provides us with the resources necessary to do this even better. The Bible college is mission-driven, and within that mission is this overarching desire to serve. True service doesn’t look for recognition. We’re a servant of the Church. We only exist to serve the Church. Not getting credit for innovation can be frustrating at times. I’d probably be less than honest if I said
it doesn’t. But that’s not what drives us. What drives us is the mission of preparing men and women to evangelize, disciple, and serve Christ and His Church. By God’s grace, that is what we will continue to do. Nazarene Bible College is still doing its task. The mission is alive. We have around 700 students in this session, about half of whom are degree seeking. The other half is pursuing courses in our ordination modules (MPP). I think some people are confused that because we moved from Colorado Springs that the Bible college is no more. That’s not true at all! Nazarene Bible College is as alive today as it ever has been. The only difference is the classroom today is either at Starbucks, McDonald’s, a pastor’s study, or someone’s den—wherever they can get an internet connection. Nazarene Bible College is there helping them to prepare for the calling God has given them. So, we’re alive and well.
HAROLD B. GRAVES has served as the sixth president of Nazarene Bible College, now located in Lenexa, Kansas, since 2006.
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Building a Solid Financial Foundation by
B i ll K i rk e m o
or the sake of local churches and pastors’ households, it is essential that pastors manage their finances well. Most pastors in America today are not preparing well for retirement: According to the National Association of Evangelicals, the majority of pastors have less than $20,000 in retirement accounts. Most pastors are not prepared for unexpected expenses, having less than $2,000 in non-retirement savings. Most pastors have almost $40,000 in non-mortgage debt (credit cards, auto loans, student loans)—an amount often higher than their annual salary. If you identify with one or more of these facts, then you are probably one of the 90 percent of pastors who feel financial stress in your family and church work. Addressing the cost of discipleship, Jesus gave this analogy: “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish’” (Luke 14:28–30). Here Jesus used a commonly held financial truth to reveal a spiritual truth. To what extent do we practice this commonly held financial truth Jesus and his audience assumed? How well have we laid a strong financial foundation for a lifetime of ministry? Some Good News
The good news is that whatever your current financial condition, you can take practical steps to make it healthier. While the task of building a healthy financial life may seem overwhelming, the most important step is simply to start. While getting into
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an unhealthy financial position can happen quickly, it can often take a long time to work your way out. Here are three things to start doing something now to help secure a strong financial future.
paycheck.7When you live paycheck to paycheck, it steals your ability to handle unforeseen expenses. Those unforeseen expenses then become debts, since they often get added to already existing credit card balances.
Get Organized. The most basic building block of a healthy financial life is the budget. If you simply gather together all your expenses, income, and debts onto a spreadsheet and live by an accurate budget, you will be in a healthier financial position than 68 percent of Americans who do not maintain a budget. There are many excellent resources that can help you develop this budget, from websites to books. Getting organized will help you have an honest and realistic picture of your current financial situation. When you have an accurate budget, you have a foundational tool that will help you set goals and priorities for your financial future. Check the resources at the COMPASS Initiative for help. Getting organized will also help you avoid missed or late payments on your debts. Late payments not only result in a costly late payment fees, but they often will hike your interest rate.
Cut Expenses. Where will you find this money to start saving? Most likely you do not have extra money lying around. Instead, you will have to find this money by cutting some of your current expenses. While some monthly expenses are fixed (mortgage payments, student loan payments), many are variable and can be reduced. For example, choose a smaller data plan for your smartphone, set your home thermostat one degree higher in the summer and one degree lower in the winter, make your own morning coffee instead of buying it at a coffee shop. Admittedly, these changes may cause some level of discomfort; however, they will help you build a solid financial foundation. The reward will be watching your emergency fund and retirement accounts grow, which will insure a healthier financial future built on a solid financial foundation.
Start Saving. You may be part of the majority of American pastors who have less than $20,000 in retirement savings or less than $2,000 in an emergency fund. While the task of funding your retirement may seem impossible, do not allow that to cause you to take no action. Simply starting to do something now is a significant step to preparing for retirement. The Church of the Nazarene’s Pensions and Benefits website has information to help you set up a 403b retirement account, as well as the forms needed to allow your church to make payments to it on your behalf. In addition to saving for retirement, saving towards an emergency fund will help when you face unexpected expenses and can prevent you from having to use a credit account. A survey by CareerBuilder.com last year found that 75 percent of Americans live paycheck to
Regardless of your financial situation, you do not have to feel overwhelmed by your finances. These three simple steps—get organized, start saving, cut expenses—are practical steps anyone can use to take control of his or her finances and move into a brighter financial future. These steps can help pastors ensure that they can afford to fulfill the call of God upon their lives for a lifetime of ministry.
You Don’t Have to Feel Overwhelmed
BILL KIRKEMO is pastor of Harrisonville (Mo.) Church of the Nazarene and serves as financial literacy adviser for Nazarene Theological Seminary.
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The Minister as a Lifelong Learner THEOLOGY
By Stephen Borger hroughout my years in ministry, I have often wondered if any other profession requires as broad a range of knowledge and expertise as that of the local church pastor. At times it seems we should suggest to our young ministerial students that pursuing a degree in five or six subjects might be what they will need. We could probably all come up with a list that includes business administration, finance, psychology, sociology, education, communication, and marketing, along with theology, philosophy, biblical studies, church history, and more. However, the financial load of student debt for so many of our young ministers is already overwhelming. One approach to solving this problem is to focus on our strengths or on what we like to do, and then bring others around us who have the expertise to take care of everything else. This approach is admirable because no one can do and be everything. However, the pastor still needs to have adequate oversight of these areas.
A K e y E d u cat i o n a l N e e d
Two years ago, Dale Jones, Director of Research Services for the Church of the Nazarene, conducted a survey of pastors and associate pastors in the United States on behalf of the COMPASS Initiative. Among the issues addressed in the survey were questions about the continuing education
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needs for the pastor and local church regarding financial challenges. The survey asked pastors if they believed they would take advantage of learning opportunities and resources available in the following areas: understanding tax implications, cultivating good giving practices, generating a spirit of generosity, conducting an audit, discussing compensation with the board, communicating to the church, evaluating staff compensation, developing an annual church budget, monthly financial reporting, and managing personal finances. For all but one of the survey topics, 70 percent to 88 percent of pastors stated that they needed “some” or “a lot” of help in these areas. The survey revealed that our ministers desire opportunities to learn best practices in the area of financial literacy and financial management. About 58 percent of
pastors signaled a desire for more resources in personal financial management. Based upon the results of related data collected, the percentage could have been even higher. In the work of the COMPASS Initiative, we are discovering that many of our ministers face significant financial challenges but either do not realize it or just do not want to admit it. We sincerely hope that those ministers will realize that they are not alone. The COMPASS Initiative, which is funded by a grant from the Lilly Endwoment, is a program offered to our ministers and local churches to address the top seven financial challenges Nazarene ministers face. The financial literacy/learning portion of the COMPASS Initiative is the COMPASS Academy and is available to all of our ministers and local church lay leaders.
The COMPASS Academy is a financial â€œtoolboxâ€? with resources under the basic categories of personal budgeting and debt management, retirement readiness, training for biblical stewardship, communicating finances as a leader, and local church finances. These educational resources are located at www.compassinitiative.org. The COMPASS Journey program is a financial literacy, management, and well-being resource for USA Church of the Nazarene pastors and full-time associate pastors, with a potential matching grant of up to $5,000 for debt relief and/or retirement readiness. We now are offering a new resource program, the COMPASS Quest. This program includes a six-month online training opportunity in personal finances and one in church generosity. There is a potential matching grant of up to $1,000 for ministers who complete the personal finances program. We live in a time with amazing resources and educational opportunities. To be called to ministry is to be called as a lifelong learner. The Church of the Nazarene is committed to the continuing educational needs of our ministers, and to offering amazing resources.
STEPHEN BORGER is a retired pastor and district superintendent and serves as director of The COMPASS Initiative
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ISN P TOETRL V I GI EHW T GRACE & PEACE is excited about an expansion of our partnership with Nazarene Theological Seminary. Starting with this issue, we will have a quarterly seminary column by Jason Veach, Director of Communications and Marketing for NTS. This column will include NTS calendar highlights and other special news from the seminary. For this issue, please note the NTS calendar and our interview with newly elected president, Dr. Jeren Rowell. – The GP Editorial Team
TRENDS IN NA Z ARENE CLERGY EDUCATION, PART 3: A n Inter view with Jeren Rowell I N T E R V I E W E R: C H A R L E S W. C H R I S T I A N In part three of our series of interviews for this issue, we sat down with Jeren Rowel (JR), the newly elected president of Nazarene Theological Seminary, to discuss trends in seminary education.
GP: TO BEGIN, TELL US ABOUT T H E C U R R E N T S TAT E O F S E M I N A R Y E D U C AT I O N A N D T H E R O L E O F N T S T O DAY I N C L E R G Y P R E PA R AT I O N . J R: This is a time of tremendous transition for all seminaries, including NTS. For example, seminary education is no longer a simple matter of who’s called to be a pastor, and how do we get them here to learn how to be a pastor. That is still a key goal of our work. We have always trained pastors, missionaries, teachers, chaplains, and many kinds of ministers. There is also an emerging hunger among other professional people who are followers of Jesus serving in other areas—counselors, for example, and even business people—who have a desire to work from the foundation of theological reflection. So, that interest in graduate theological education, even for people who are not going to be credentialed in terms of vocational ministry, is an important part of the future of all seminaries, including NTS. GP: HOW DO SEMINARIES CONNEC T WITH THIS EMERGING GROUP MORE S P E C I F I C A L LY ? J R: I think this kind of connection happens in a variety of ways. First and foremost, we
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have to reimagine and expand our existing curriculum. The Master of Divinity (M.Div.) is our core curriculum, but there are ways that we can enhance and expand our professional masters’ programs to provide maximum flexibility for a wider variety of students. Another way to reach out to those interested in non-traditional seminary studies is to expand the conversation with the church in order to accommodate the needs that are out there and to allow the church see that we can meet those needs. GP: THE CHURCH OF THE NA ZARENE HAS AN INTERESTING HISTORY IN REGARD TO HIGHER E D U C AT I O N . O N T H E O N E H A N D W E H AV E A S T R O N G S E N S E O F T H E N E E D F O R H I G H E R E D U C AT I O N . O N T H E O T H E R , A S YO U K N O W F R O M YO U R Y E A R S I N M I N I S T R Y, T H E R E TENDS TO BE FEAR SURROUNDING S E M I N A R Y E D U C AT I O N I N PA R T I C U L A R . H O W C A N T H E SEMINARY AND CHURCH LE ADERS H E L P A L L AY T H E S E F E A R S ? J R: As you know, this is nothing new. General Superintendent Chapman, in casting the vision for this place, began that work in the 1920s. It took until the 1940s
tension that keeps us corrected, and that keeps us talking to each other. This is positive for the mission of the Church.
to get the church to say, “Yes, let’s have a seminary.” Even then, this seminary was born out of great tension around that very question. When Hugh Benner was called to be the first president, he got a pushback from certain segments of the church—people who were afraid that seminary education would negatively affect the church. Some feared higher learning would mute passion for revival or for evangelism. To me, the way forward has always been rooted in the nature of the Wesleyan framework of healthy church practice flowing from sound theology. These two aspects are summed up by Charles Wesley’s phrase “knowledge and vital piety”—education and holiness combined. Keeping both of these at the forefront can help us to move past the narrow assumption that you have to choose one or the other. I believe that you can be both an academically informed minister who is also a sound practitioner. You can choose to be someone who thinks carefully and deeply about the Bible, while still being someone who has a Spirit-anointed passion to win people to Jesus. Those can and should live together. I think they get expressed differently in different personalities and contexts, but I think there’s no conflict. There is tension, but I think tension can be understood in a positive way: Tension that keeps us balanced,
G P : H O W D O E S YO U R O W N J O U R N E Y A S A S T U D E N T, PA S T O R , AND DISTRICT LEADER INFORM W H AT YO U H O P E T O B E T H E M A I N E M P H A S E S O F N T S M OV I N G F O R WA R D? J R: I come to this role from 25 years as a local church pastor and then twelve years as a superintendent—a pastor to pastors. So, I very much have the local church and the local pastor in view. To this day, regardless of the assignment I’ve had, I’ve always considered myself most essentially a pastor. Early on, I was given that very quote from Charles Wesley about the importance of both knowledge and vital piety—a living faith. This is the idea of the pastor/theologian, and this is a formative idea for all pastors and for all Christians. I’ve always thought that there’s just nothing worse than a pastor saying something like, “Oh, I’m no theologian.” Every pastor is a theologian! He or she may be a good or a poor theologian, but every pastor is a theologian. So, I want to help pastors be good theologians and not eschew that work, but embrace it at whatever level that they have capacity for and in whatever context makes sense for them. G P : W H AT C A N PA S T O R S , E S P E C I A L LY S E M I N A R Y G R A D UAT E S OR THOSE WHO ARE PURSUING S E M I N A R Y E D U C AT I O N , D O T O
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HELP BRING ABOUT A POSITIVE V I E W O F S E M I N A R Y E D U C AT I O N T O T H E I R C O N G R E G AT I O N S ? J R: Part of what I hope to do here is to help our graduates apply what they have learnedâ€” not just from a base of knowledge, but from a base of what I would call Christian virtue and pastoral wisdom. I want our graduates to learn how to exercise careful patience and wisdom in the context of the local church. I hope they learn to develop and use what they learn here in the local context in ways that help minister to the life of the people. Part of that involves taking the variety of things learned here from a wide array of deep thinkers and applying that in practical ministry with pastoral wisdom. This kind of pastoral wisdom is developed over time, and it also involves good and consistent mentoring. Something I constantly hear from young and developing ministers is the need for mentors who can be consistent guides for ministerial development. G P : H O W I S N T S PA R T N E R I N G WITH NA ZARENE UNIVERSITIES IN THE ONGOING MENTORING AND E D U C AT I O N P R O C E S S ? J R: We are fortunate to live in a time when our universities have strong scholars contributing to the education of our students. We see ourselves as partnering with our universities in enhancing the work our university professors do in the lives of developing ministers. So, our work is really more of a continuing collaboration as the students continue their formal education. GP: DISCUSS THE EMERGING ROLE OF TECHNOLOGY IN CLERGY E D U C AT I O N . J R: Half of our students at NTS are nonresidential, which means they utilize technology to complete their degree. Most of these non-residential students join their classes through video technology, which is relatively seamless these days. I have taught those courses, and students really are able to have meaningful engagement. Students are also rediscovering the need for face-to-
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face learning communities, so in addition to enhancing our technological opportunities, we are expanding our residential facilities for those who long for that kind of interaction socially and educationally. I predict that the need for residential learning at the seminary level will experience more growth, but we want to make sure we are prepared for and that we can merge both aspects of education. G P : W H AT S T R U C T U R A L C H A N G E S D O YO U S E E I N T H E S E M I N A R Y â€™ S FUTURE? J R: First of all, within the next decade, we will experience almost a complete turnover among our faculty, many of whom are near retirement age. The faculty cabinet and I are already prayerfully examining what future faculty needs will be, especially in light of the new trends we have already discussed. There will not only be different faces, but also different specialties and approaches as the seminary moves forward. G P : W H AT A R E YO U R H O P E S A N D DREA MS FOR THE NEXT TEN YEARS OF NTS? J R: I would hope that in ten years it is clear that NTS has responded to the realities of the Church of the Nazarene being a truly global denomination. This means that we will take seriously our connection with all of our world areas, but also our faculty and staff increasingly reflects the diversity of our church in much the same way that our global leadership has in recent years. Also, we would love to see NTS become a seminary of choice of sister denominational groups, especially those who do not have strong seminary programs for their developing clergy. Ultimately, I really want what happens here at NTS every single week to have a positive impact on what happens in the local church every single week.
JEREN ROWELL was elected in 2017 as the eleventh president of Nazarene Theological Seminary (Kansas City, Missouri)
NTS CALENDAR July 17–29
NTS Russia Study Trip with Dr. Jeren R. Rowell and Dr. Carla D. Sunberg
Creativity, Confidence, and Companioning: Vital Development in Times of Change - Pre-PALCON (PLNU) event for women
NTS classes begin
NTS-sponsored lectures on The Church’s Ministry to Early Childhood, with Dr. Holly Allen at SDMI USA/Canada Leadership Conference (Cincinnati, Ohio)
NTS Homecoming Dinner
NTS Preachers Conference: Preaching Hope in Troubled Times
Spring 2019 Priority Scholarship deadline
Pastors’ Day (Heinmiller Lectures on Spiritual Formation) with Dr. Rebecca Laird
NTS classes begin
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Why Seminary? B y R e b e cc a R o d e h e a v e r
friend recently pointed out to me, with all kindness and gentleness, that I am a nerd. I had never really considered myself to be a nerd before, but the truth was there, staring me in the face. Not everyone likes to read books. Not everyone likes sitting in class listening to a lecture on the finer points of church history. Not everyone gets a sublime joy from correctly identifying a Greek participle. The fact that I do places me squarely in the societal category of “nerd.” I think a few friends who heard I was headed to seminary assumed this decision came mainly because I carry this “nerd” gene, and that gives me a strange compulsion toward school. They would not be entirely wrong. If I go for too long without learning something new, without thought-provoking conversation and study, and without fresh teaching to stimulate my mind, I start to feel thirsty for new depths of imagination. But those dear friends would not be entirely right, either. Coming to seminary is, in fact, more than just a “nerd thing.” It was something bigger that has propelled me out of my beloved sunny California and into a quirky pocket of the Midwest called Kansas City. I began to first identify God’s call to ministry while I was in college. All my life I had loved serving alongside my parents in our small, inner-city church in San Diego.
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I loved going with my dad on pastoral visits to homes and hospitals, loved discussing sermon material with him, loved singing on the worship team with my mom, and loved helping with our outreach events. I also loved learning about “why,” whether it was a theological claim or the decision to give a parishioner opportunity to lead. This was the work of my family, and as much as I loved it, I didn’t think of it in terms of a calling from God. When I left home and attended Olivet Nazarene University, the same passions remained. I still loved cross-cultural ministry, still loved leading worship through song, still loved opportunities to disciple and teach others. At some point, I finally began to acknowledge that this passion for ministry and for serving the church was actually a gift and call from God. Somehow, I knew God wanted me to use these passions and gifts for the sake of His kingdom. This shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did. Apparently, others weren’t too surprised. I remember timidly writing a couple of my former youth leaders from home about the possibility of doing an internship with them and explaining that I was starting to wonder if I was called to pastoral ministry. Shawna’s response was, “Part of you thinks you'd be a good pastor? Rebecca, have you met yourself?" Also, for the record, my sister slipped NTS brochures under my pillow since before I had finished my first year of college. God continued to cultivate in me a deep love for the church, a deep love for the Word, and a deep love for journeying with others along the way of Jesus. I finished a B.A. in intercultural studies and a M.A. in religion at Olivet before venturing into my first ministry assignment as the worship pastor at a lovely church in Bakersfield, California. Before long, God stirred in me a desire to better understand and articulate the Christian faith. My professors at Olivet had prepared me well, but as I encountered the life of the church in fresh ways and discovered more about the truths I had learned at the university, I knew I wanted to learn more. I enrolled as a distance student at Nazarene Theological Seminary, and it was a great experience. I eagerly looked forward to Skyping into class every week. Yes, the nerd
part of me was ecstatic to be learning and dialoging again, but there was also a sense that this was the best step I could take to continue preparing for a life of ministry. Two semesters later, God opened the doors for me to move to Kansas City and become part of the community of students and professors on the seminary campus. It was hard to leave my family again, but every one of them whole-heartedly affirmed that this was where God was leading me. I tearfully hugged my brother goodbye and he just grinned, his eyes twinkling as he shook his head, saying, “You’re going to do great!” When our new seminary president, Dr. Jaren Rowell, was inaugurated, the words of his address resonated deeply in my heart, confirming the very reasons I had come. He said, “The work of the seminary is not only about gaining knowledge, but about Christian nurture that deepens the spiritual life of students and forms them in the way of Jesus. . . . The task of academic research at seminary is not to foster innovation for its own sake, but to help us keep clarity on the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Dr. Rowell also pointed us all to the NTS statement of purpose, which I want to adopt for my life: “[We] are committed to these common purposes: to know and love the Lord, to speak about the Lord, and to walk with the Lord.” More than anything else, I want to know Christ, to honor and love him, and to faithfully proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ to the world. I’m thankful for the ways my theological education at NTS is helping me to do that, now and for a lifetime.
REBECCA RODEHEAVER is currently a student at Nazarene Theological Seminary. She is a native Californian and a licensed minister in the Church of the Nazarene.
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ome of my peers and I describe our time at seminary as our “Peniel” experience. Peniel was the place where Jacob was given a new name after wrestling with God. His name was changed to “Israel,” which means “one who wrestles with God.” After his encounter with God, Jacob was
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changed forever. The world would know him by this name for the rest of his days. Seminary was the place where we wrestled with God, and we would never be the same. For us, the name “pastor” came to mean, “one who wrestled with God.” We would be intercessors, advocates, servants, and shepherds, always striving for a blessed relationship between God and the people of God.
My moving from seminary to the trenches of pastoral ministry was different than most of my peers experienced. I not only moved back to my home district, but I also moved back to my home town: Boise, Idaho. We do not really know much about how, after Jacob wrestled with God, he went about introducing himself as “Israel” to his friends and family. They most likely had to get used to how he had been changed. The same was true for me. Back Home
I moved back to the people who had watched me grow up; the people who knew me as the “youth intern” or “one of the bluegrass brothers at Northwest Nazarene University.” I soon became the pastor to my entire family— the people who knew everything there was to know about me, warts and all. However, these people only knew the Ben who had left for seminary—not the Ben who was changed by seminary. It was an interesting journey attempting to communicate how my values and perspectives had been deepened and matured because of my time at seminary. NNU had given me a firm theological foundation upon which to build a life of faith. I wanted to grow deeper in my faith, and I wanted to learn how best to live into all the valuable insights I had received from NNU. I left for seminary as someone who was ambitious but timid and insecure. However, I returned from seminary with hard-won confidence and more secure in who I was in Christ. Nazarene Theological Seminary helped to open the door for me to start becoming the person I always knew I wanted to be. I came back a changed person. I came back a pastor. There was significant adjustment, both for me and for the community to which I was returning. I worked to reintroduce myself, including who I had become under this new name of “pastor.” The wonderful church to which I had been called was as unfamiliar to me as I was to them. Our adjustments to one another were different from those I experienced with friends and family. We had to learn each other’s stories and share who we hoped to become as we pursued the future that God had for us. It would be a
journey of mystery and surprises. It would be a fruitful journey. Like Jacob, we deeply desired a future shaped by God. Surprises Along
As with all transitions, there were all kinds of surprises. A positive surprise for me was the trust my congregation showed. This church that began in 1944 took a chance on a senior pastor in his twenties. The older members of the church led the way in showing me support and listening to and answering any questions I had, no matter how silly the questions may have sounded to them. They set an example of trust and accountability between my pastoral leadership and the community, which continues to this day. I was allowed to exercise the training and live into the vision of the kingdom of God that I had acquired in seminary. This positive surprise is still a profoundly meaningful gift to my heart. This trust also revealed another surprise. The elders of my community not only led the way in their trust and support of my ministry, but they took that even further by opening themselves to seek my pastoral guidance in their lives. One example was that of an 82-year-old man in our church. He was a retired nuclear physicist and had devoted his time and resources to missions work in the Church of the Nazarene. Given his experience, he could have easily dismissed the leadership of a young pastor, fresh out of seminary. There was no apparent reason to seek my pastoral guidance in his life. There was no reason for him to invite me into his story and let me disciple him, but he did. He did all these things and more. This deeply humbling surprise allowed space for others to do the same. We grew together. Other surprises were more difficult. I had received a transformative theological education from both college (NNU) and seminary (NTS). My studies equipped me in subjects such as pastoral counseling, theology, biblical studies, church history, and spiritual disciplines. I felt prepared in those areas. However, I was really surprised at the things I did not know. For example, standard financial protocols in the local
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I realized that “pastor” means,
humanity” for the sake of
church seemed to elude me. There were times when other local church challenges, including aspects of administration, made me wish that I had greater training in church finances and administration. Another surprise was the difficulty I experienced in finding a spiritual mentor. During my time at both NNU and NTS, faculty and staff came alongside me, affirming my call, struggling with me, celebrating with me, and mentoring me as a disciple. I was free to practice, fail, and succeed as I wrestled with my call. They taught me that a pastor is one who mediates God to the people and the people to God. They showed me that discipleship is crucial to becoming all that we can be. When I stepped into the world of pastoral leadership from seminary, I felt like this type of mentorship came to an abrupt end. I maintained my relationship with a few of my professors in order to have continued mentorship in my life, including an undergraduate profession. I would be lost without her guidance. However, she and others suggested that it would be wise for me to have a spiritual mentor who was currently within pastoral ministry; someone who would know my day-to-day experience and could walk with me directly on a consistent basis. This was good advice. Without consistent mentorship from another pastor in my life, I felt the isolation of leadership very strongly. I soon realized the demands of pastoral ministry are such that if they were not shaped and guided by a consistent mentor relationship, I would face tremendous risk of burnout.
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Four years after accepting my call to Euclid, I found a healthy mentoring relationship with another pastor on my district. I believe that having a mentor is necessary, especially when moving from seminary into pastoral leadership, and yet I was surprised that finding a mentor was so difficult. In the midst of both positive and difficult surprises, the miracle was that I had God and God’s people right there in the trenches with me. We serve a God of compassion and grace, and I soon found that the people in my community are supremely gifted with compassion and grace, as well. In their faithfulness to and trust of a young pastor, God has brought about incredible opportunities for others to join in the work of discipleship. A New Kind
After receiving this new name of “pastor” as a result of early times of wrestling with God, I realize my wrestling did not end at my seminary graduation. It just took on a new form. I would not be who I am today if it were not for the wonderful professors at the two Nazarene schools I attended. I am utterly grateful for the education from these incredible institutions and their continued influence in my life. I had come away from wrestling with God at seminary with a new name, “Pastor.” But, I was not yet aware of the full meaning of that new name until ordination by the church, which confirmed my identity as pastor. It was then I realized that “pastor” means, “one who wrestles with both God and humanity for the sake of Christ.” So, while this journey has had highs and lows so far, I am so profoundly grateful to have been blessed by God through the Church of the Nazarene and encouraged by the church body. It is truly a privilege to serve the body of Christ, and I pray that I can do so for years to come.
BEN CREMER has served as the senior pastor of Boise Euclid Avenue Church of the Nazarene for five years.
Five Ways to Have Great Staff Meetings and Board Meetings By
M c D o n a ld
very week, we have a staff meeting at the church I pastor. We also have a board meeting once a month with our elected church leaders. As the lead pastor, I provide oversight in each of these meetings. In previous churches, I was never good at overseeing these meetings. The meetings would go on and on, and people would be exhausted by the end. But as Iâ€™ve learned to put five principles into practice, our meetings have changed for the better. First, we use meetings as a time for investing and equipping others. Many times, church meetings are only about administrative tasks. However, meetings can also be a great opportunity to invest in and equip others. I begin every meeting by spending about ten minutes equipping our people to become better leaders. I typically select a topic such as servant leadership, characteristics of great leaders, or sharing faith outside the church. These brief equipping times have turned out to be a great way to begin meetings. Second, we hold all leaders accountable. I start meetings with the staff and board by asking a set of four questions: 1) Are you in the Word every day? 2) Are you praying every day? 3) Are you living a holy life? 4) Who are you sharing your faith with? If we seek to do these things then we will be healthier. If we are all in the Word, then we will be more likely to be in harmony
with God and with one another. If we are praying, then God will move mountains. If we are all seeking to live in holiness, then God will honor our efforts. If we are all sharing our faith, then the family of God will grow. As Iâ€™ve held leaders to these four questions in staff and board meetings, it has raised the standard of leadership in our church. Discussing these questions at meetings, has helped us keep our focus on the main things! Third, we seek to give everyone a voice. I do not dominate our meetings by being the only voice. I try to give everyone an opportunity to speak. The reality is that we are stronger when we work together. Everyone has a voice at the table, and everyone has a right to share what they are thinking. Fourth, we deal honestly with conflicts. We have a strict policy in our church about this. We do not sweep problems under the rug. We encourage staff and board members to deal with conflicts in a biblical way. When this happens outside of our meetings, then meetings go more smoothly. If a conf lict arises in the meeting, then we will deal with it right away in a biblical manner, as well. Finally, we delegate authority and not just tasks. Many lead pastors delegate tasks fairly well, but most of us do not delegate authority. I try my best to delegate authority to staff and board. I trust them as leaders. I want them to have the freedom to make decisions. When we have identified trusted leaders in specific areas of ministry, our meetings do not drag on, since we already trust them to do their jobs. Since incorporating these five principles, our meetings are much more productive and beneficial.
KEVIN MCDONALD is lead pastor of Gateway Church of the Nazarene in Murrieta, California.
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Pa s t o r with a Ph.D.? by
When I felt called to pursue a Ph.D., my first thought was, “Yes! What a wonderful opportunity!” But as time passed, my thoughts often became, “Woe is me, for I am undone!” I have to admit that on my worst days, my pursuit of a Ph.D. was nothing less than a thinly veiled effort to escape some of the frustrations of pastoring a local church. My study, at times, offered for me the mirage of the perceived stability and sanctuary of the university: the four solidly safe walls of the ivory tower. On my better days, with more Spiritinduced clarity, I understood my call as a bridge between the university and the local church—a bridge that is perhaps more necessary today than it has ever been. On those days of clarity I could understand how, as a pastor with 20 years of experience in the local church, if I were in possession of a Ph.D., I could offer a unique perspective: the ability to speak both the language of the local church and the language of the academy. Most days, though, I found myself somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. With this as both backdrop and context, I will attempt to speak a bit more to the reason why I pursued a Ph.D. in the first place and how it has been beneficial to me in both the church and the academy.
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My call seemed to come to me in stages. First came my call to pastoral ministry. It wasn’t until much later that I felt greater clarity about God’s desire for me concerning doctoral work. I didn’t run from my call to pastor—that call was almost a relief to me when I finally fully surrendered my life to Christ at age 19. But I ran from the Ph.D. for almost a decade. Pastoral ministry just seemed like a natural fit for me—like something I was born to do. Obtaining a terminal degree, after less-than-stellar academic success in college and seminary seemed out of the question. However, God continued to work on me, and eventually I realized that this call was also inescapable. It was a leap of faith for me to believe that God could lead me through a Ph.D. program. However, I knew that throughout Scripture God calls people to do impossible things while giving them everything they need along the way to accomplish the task. Something Deeper
Early in my ministry, I was deeply affected by an unhealthy focus on numbers: How big was my church, and how could I make it bigger? The more time I spent
should recognize the complexities of our cultural context and seek to be the best
theologians-inresidence they can be.
focusing on this goal, the more disenchanted I became with pastoring. It reached a boiling point for me where I truly lost my focus on who I was and what God wished for the church to be. I cried out to God to release me from my call. That’s when God led me to mentors like Eugene Peterson, John Wesley, and others who reawakened my desire to study and dig deeper. This enabled me to reestablish my call on a more solid foundation. I also realized that with a growing array of issues that ministers face, pastors need to be more prepared than ever to be biblically and theologically sound and to be wise prophets in an age of turmoil and confusion. Increased Thirst
to the history of worship than what I had experienced. It left me wanting more. A p p ly i n g
God led me to see that I needed to learn how to research an idea thoroughly and write about it comprehensively. I needed to acquire the skills of the academy—the ability to pursue a thought at a deeper level—to examine a problem and present a solution in a wellthought-out way. I needed the discipline to see a difficult project all the way through to its logical conclusion. I needed the accountability and wisdom of gifted scholars and mentors. I needed to learn that writing, like preaching, is done in community and could be part of my ministry in the church. I needed a challenge that was bigger than me. Ph.D. studies felt like something that was absolutely beyond my ability to do on my own. Should every pastor get a Ph.D.? Definitely not! But all pastors should seek to understand themselves—their gifts and calling—as thoroughly as possible. Every pastor should strive for more than the pursuit of external indicators of “success.” All pastors should recognize the complexities of our cultural context and seek to be the best theologians-inresidence they can be. All pastors should seek to know as much, learn as much, and think as well as they are able. And every pastor should pursue excellence, so that, “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).
As I began to read and converse with pastoral leaders who shared my growing passion for education, I began to feel a stronger urge to expand my horizons of knowledge. The more I read, the more questions I had, and the desire to search for the answers increased. My reading began to focus on John Wesley’s theology and practice of worship. Having grown up in a traditional, revivalist Nazarene congregation, my first class on worship in my undergraduate studies at Southern Nazarene University completely blew my mind. This first class, and my subsequent reading, led me to realize that there was so much more
STEVE JOHNSON is senior pastor of Nall Avenue Church of the Nazarene in Lenexa, Kansas, and has recently completed Ph.D. studies from Nazarene Theological College, Manchester (U.K.).
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Beyond Biblical Literacy: Becoming Fluent in the World of the Bible By Dean Blevins Editor’s Note: This article was originally written for the July/August 2018 issue of Holiness Today. The theme for July/August HT is Biblical Literacy. We invite our readers to go to holinesstoday.org for more information about the helpful resources of Holiness Today.
learned a foreign language twice—in high school and in my doctoral program—and nearly lost them both. You could say I was “literate” in both languages (with occasional help from a dictionary). However, I never used those languages easily, and reading became much harder over time. Yet, I have friends who speak and read multiple languages frequently and fluently. When it comes to the “language” of the Bible, is it possible to be literate but not fluent? T h e D iff e r e n c e B e t w e e n “ L i t e r a t e ” and “Fluent”
What is the difference between being literate and being fluent? It is the difference between working with a language and living within a language. Fluency, derived from the Latin “to flow,” implies a natural, easy familiarity with a language. Becoming fluent describes what psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi might call being in a “flow,” so participation includes deep appreciation, creative engagement, and a total involvement with the language in and through life. Everton Morais, an interpreter for the Church of the Nazarene, notes that this type of fluency seems different from being bilingual. Instead of mentally translating from one language to another before understanding it, fluent translators relate language and concepts simultaneously. Fluency often occurs through immersion into the culture that shapes the language. Many people either live in a host country or grow up within a family that embodies the language. They not only
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learn about a language but they also practice the language regularly in their lives. Can fluency even be possible when it comes to our participation with what theologian Karl Barth called “the strange, new world within the Bible”? If so, how can we move from literacy to fluency with the Bible and become immersed in its world, revealed in and through Scripture? I believe it is possible but only if we know how to allow the Word of God to shape us and guide us into a “flow” with Scripture’s stories and practices. Being Formed
B ib l e
Robert Mulholland, author of Shaped by the Word, stresses that these practices help us take seriously our need to read the Bible for formation as well as for information. Mulholland notes that we often seek “mastery” over information rather than obediently allowing God’s Word to shape us into the life of the kingdom of God. Mulholland argues for a balance, so that we may allow God’s Word to shape and form us. Mulholland’s view comes very close to Dallas Willard’s understanding of study as a spiritual discipline. Willard writes: We not only read and hear and inquire, but we meditate on what comes before us; that is, we withdraw into silence where we prayerfully and steadily focus upon it. In this way, its meaning for us can emerge and form us as God works in the depths of our heart, mind, and soul. We devote long periods of time to this. Our prayer as we study meditatively is always that God would meet with us and speak specifically to us, for ultimately the Word of God is God speaking. Reading formatively is supported by John Wesley’s guidelines for reading Scripture, and it sets the tone for gaining fluency. Three Approaches
Three complementary approaches help us enter into the “world of the Bible” to explore the larger story of Scripture, imaginatively dwell in smaller passages, and participate in worship. The first approach requires a fresh reading of the Bible as a broad story told in community. Recent efforts by Biblica
(formerly the International Bible Society) and the American Bible Society reveal that many people in the United States own Bibles but do not engage as deeply as before. One reason may well be the lack of an understanding of the story of Scripture. As a response, these agencies developed newer Bibles that don’t include chapter or verse citations so that the Scripture looks like a series of books to be read within a community. Our first challenge may be reading and seeing Scripture as stories that fit a larger narrative, and hearing it in community. Christians would do well to engage the Scripture first in larger narrative accounts, seeing the breadth of the biblical culture as they engage the text. Two recent responses to this need include the Community Bible Experience from Biblica and Immerse by Tyndale. Both approaches guide readers into a narrative flow of Scripture, seeing the stories and passages in a larger context. Second, while seeing the larger narrative horizon, readers also need to engage deeply with specific passages through deliberative, reflective engagement. Ruth Haley Barton suggests we engage in a long-standing practice of “divine reading” that combines the Word and silence: “As we make ourselves open and available to God through this practice, the Scriptures penetrate to our very depths, showing us those things about ourselves that we are incapable of knowing on our own due to our well-developed defense structures.” This approach can help us remove our cultural assumptions so we can enter fully into a culture shaped by Scripture. This type of reading begins in silence before God and includes a slow reading of Scripture, sometimes with our reading a small passage or word several times. The second step involves deep reflection or meditation upon the depths of the passage, which moves us to the third step of asking if there is an invitation or challenge in the reading where we might respond to God. This active third step invites us into the fourth phase of contemplation: resting and residing in God’s revelation and presence before finally rising to live out God’s Word and His will for the world. Submitting to a regular pattern of divine reading invites us to imaginatively dwell within the story of Scripture until it begins to saturate our being and shape our actions. Finally, we also enter the world of Scripture through worship. When the biblical
narrative becomes evident in regular Scripture readings and biblically informed singing, we begin to participate in a community anchored in the Bible. Recent insights from neuroscience suggest that the formative life of congregational worship provides an influence far beyond the small amount of time dedicated to its practice. When we deliberately allow regular Scripture readings (such as the lectionary) to shape not only sermons but also congregational engagement, we help provide a community life that is energized by the Holy Spirit. Still, to accomplish biblical “fluency,” we should not see these practices of Bible reading and participation simply as techniques for us to use when we feel like it. Instead, we need to approach Scripture engagement much like we approach any habit or daily discipline in life: through deliberate, continuous practice. Research in the field of neuroscience reveals just how powerful habits and practices are at shaping our minds, but they require time to fully take hold. This involves daily engagement with Scripture. Habitually participating in specific Bible practices on a regular basis can make a profound difference in our lives. Becoming fluent requires implementing habits and practices that allow Scripture to shape us much like a new culture shapes us. This approach does not negate the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Instead, adopting these practices of Bible reading allows us to be led more specifically by the Holy Spirit. This approach may challenge us to “unlearn” or at least suspend other approaches to reading the Bible, so that we can open our lives imaginatively and prayerfully to the full world of Scripture. Rather than merely understanding or applying Scripture to our lives, we can adopt habits and practices that engage Scripture. In this way, we will discover the full narrative embedded in Scripture so we can “flow into” and find our daily lives defined by God’s story.
DEAN BLEVINS is professor of practical theology and Christian discipleship and director of the Master of Arts in Christian Formation and Discipleship at Nazarene Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri.
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AUTHOR F i v e Q u e s t i o n s : J o e G o r m a n , H e a l t h y . H a pp y . H o ly . 7 Practices Toward a Holistic Life
1. Name one or two key factors that prompted the original idea for this book.
embark on the healthier life journey I talk about in the book.
Healthy. Happy. Holy is about the “rest of life” that we don’t talk much about in the church. What I mean by the “rest of life” are practices such as self-care, Sabbath rest, managing stress and preventing burnout, engaging in play and hobbies, getting adequate sleep, regular exercise, and eating healthier foods. All of these are part of living a fully alive, Christlike life. I wrote this book, because I have failed miserably in all of these areas of my life at one time or another. I am still an imperfect practitioner in these areas. I experienced burnout and depression as a local church pastor many years ago. As a way to heal myself mentally, physically, and emotionally, I began to engage in the practices I talk about in this book. I also ended up writing my doctoral dissertation on “Pastors, Burnout, and Depression.” Helping others to love themselves as God loves them—body, mind, and spirit—is a deep passion of mine. I view the practices discussed in the book as means of grace that are every bit as important for our relationship with God and others as corporate worship, prayer, and Bible study. Salvation is not simply God saving the spiritual part of us, but God healing every aspect of our lives (see 1 Thessalonians 5:23). For too long as a pastor, I ministered out of a toxic theology that told me I needed to love my neighbor instead of myself. The amazing thing in the Gospels is that Jesus tells us that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves, not instead of ourselves. As I studied scripture and theology, it dawned on me that one of the best ways for me to love God and others wholeheartedly is to love myself by resting, playing, sleeping, exercising, and eating well. It took a personal health crisis to provoke me to
2. If you have to list three key takeaways from this book you would like for the reader to experience, what would they be?
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As I talk about in the first chapter, “Secure Your Own Oxygen Mask First,” caring for ourselves is not selfish, but is actually an act of love, both for ourselves and others. God calls us to flourish so that all can flourish. The well-being of the world starts with our own health. The second takeaway is this: Give Sabbath rest another shot if you’ve ignored it. The Sabbath not only gives us permission to rest, but it commands us to do so. For too long in my own life, I had an inadequate theology of rest. Because of this, I neglected my need for a regular rhythm of work, rest, play, and sleep. I was an unhealthy person as a result. A statement I read in Wayne Muller’s delightful book, Sabbath, deeply challenged me to make important changes in the way I cared for myself and practiced Sabbath rest: “If we do not allow for a rhythm of rest in our overly busy lives, illness becomes our Sabbath—our pneumonia, our cancer, our heart attack, our accidents create Sabbath for us” [Wayne Muller, Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives (New York: Bantam Books, 1999, 20)]. The third idea that I hope the reader takes away from the book is that holiness can be fun. Who knew? Throughout the book, I encourage the reader to engage in those practices, habits, experiences, and relationships that bring joy to life. I believe that a life lived for others is grounded scripturally and theologically in doing those things that delight and refill our internal reservoir. There should be at least as much life flowing into us as flows from us. When we are spiritually and emotionally full—
when we are rested, joyful, and healthy— we are our best selves. When we are essentially healthy and happy, the journey toward Christlike holiness is full of joy and delight—and fun! Another key message of the book is that the journey of holiness is holistic, extending to every area of life. Every aspect of this wonderful life, this incredible gift of God, is a means of grace, an opportunity to fill up with the love of God, so that the life of God spills out of us into the lives of others. 3. Do you have a favorite passage or chapter in this book?
I like all of the chapters, obviously, but the hardest chapter for me to write and practice was the chapter on connecting food with Christian discipleship. This chapter was also the most satisfying for me to complete.
S a lv a t i o n
food I eat. Compassion for God’s creation also leads me to eat chicken, beef, and pork that have been raised as humanely and as “happily” as possible. These were all new insights for me theologically and deeply challenging to many of my own personal dietary practices. 4. If you were sitting beside the reader, what portion of the book would you want him or her to spend extra time on, and why?
The most important chapter of the book theologically is the chapter on Sabbath rest. This is why it is the first chapter of the book. This chapter sets the tone for everything else in the book. The Old Testament Sabbath command to rest is the connective tissue that connects love of God and neighbor. In order to love God and love our neighbors wholeheartedly, the fourth command tells us that we must rest well.
God saving the us, but God healing
i s n o t s i m p ly
spiritual part of
every aspect of our lives A couple of years before I started to write this chapter, I began to read carefully in John Wesley’s work and other places about the relationship of food and faith. Eating healthy and maintaining healthy weight have been struggles I have had throughout my life. Writing this chapter challenged me to better practice what I preach. I couldn’t very well write a chapter on healthier eating and not practice it myself, right? The research for this chapter also led me down several unexpected paths. I learned about food deserts and the relationship of food to social justice. I learned about how important it was to John Wesley that the early Methodists eat healthier as a way of promoting healing and more effective lives of holiness. I learned that contrary to conventional wisdom, obesity is not merely a lack of willpower. I have also learned to care about the sources of the food I eat as well as the welfare of those who harvest the
I think the reader will find the chapter on Sabbath rest different from most other approaches to Sabbath rest they may have encountered along the way. Rather than giving specific prescriptions for what not to do on the Sabbath, I provide principles for how to go about practicing Sabbath rest. I believe that these principles are at the heart of why God gave us the Sabbath command in the first place. As Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27, NRSV). 5. What specific ways can this book equip, encourage, and/or instruct ministers?
While the book is written for both laity and pastors, I do speak directly to pastors in several places. I was a lead pastor for 21 years and a youth pastor for a little over 2 years before I started teaching full-time at
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too long as a pastor,
ministered out of a toxic theology that told me
needed to love my
neighbor instead of myself.
Northwest Nazarene University in 2010. Because of my own experience in pastoral ministry, I try to be especially sensitive to the needs and challenges of those in ministry. In the chapter on Sabbath rest, I offer several ideas for how those in ministry can develop a sustainable Sabbath rhythm, both for themselves and their churches. The chapter on managing stress and preventing burnout offers several ideas for how pastors can practice self-care. As one example of this, I talk about how in college and seminary, pastors are taught how to care for others, but very infrequently are taught to care for themselves as an essential part of God’s call in their lives. I learned the hard way in ministry that a pastor whose heart is not refreshed will be hard-pressed to refresh others. Far from being selfish, sanctified self-care is deeply missional. Only healthy pastors and churches will have the mental and emotional capacity to be the eyes, ears, hands, and feet of Christ in the world. Worship, evangelism, and compassionate ministry are not for the faint of heart. They require us to be our most fully alive selves. Not surprisingly, this holistic approach was at the heart of John Wesley’s ministry. Chapter Seven, “Connect Food with Christian Discipleship,” asks the question: “Why should Christians care about what we eat?” For too long as a pastor, I struggled to eat healthily. I am certainly not alone in this. Recognizing that this is a very sensitive issue, I take a compassionate theological approach to food in this chapter. Rather
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than scolding, I seek to show how God’s original intention for the food we eat has implications for our walk with Christ and the mission of the Church. A more intentional theology of food will enhance both pastoral and congregational health and help churches embody a holistic gospel to the most vulnerable in their communities. This chapter also provides “food” for thought for sermons and small groups as well as personal pastoral practice. It also contains practical ideas for healthier eating that will be helpful for ministers in promoting their own personal health. As the research at the Duke Divinity School Clergy Health Initiative shows us (https://divinity. duke.edu/initiatives/clergy-health-initiative), ministers tend to be some of the least healthy folk in any profession. If my book can help nurture healthier pastors and more thriving ministries, I will be very grateful. The goal of Healthy. Happy. Holy. is to help God’s people live fully alive in every aspect of their lives. God intends for us to flourish in the totality of our lives—to live radiant, vibrant, healthy lives of joy, peace, and faithful service. It is my prayer that my book will help cultivate healthier, happier, more Christlike lives.
THE DIFFERENCE IS ONLINE Pastoral Ministries • Bible & Theology • Counseling For Christian Ministries Christian School Education • Christian Educational Ministries Leadership & Ethics • Hispanic Pastoral Ministries • Pastoral Leadership
REVIEW R e v ie w : H ealthy . H a ppy . H oly ., J oe G orman (K a n s as C it y , MO: B eacon H ill P ress , 2018). R e v i e w e r : J o h n C o ms t o ck
he rhythm of work and rest is given to us in Scripture as we observe God resting after creation and then prescribing a Sabbath day for human beings. From this foundational model Joe Gorman, associate professor of pastoral theology at Northwest Nazarene University, eloquently and persuasively makes a case that selfcare is an essential element of the Christian life. The concise nature of his thought process, along with his vulnerability, makes this book feel like an invitation toward transformation. He writes with a style that is relatable, because he weaves biblical theology with his life story, which then moves into creative life applications for the reader. In a world where many people are squeezed by the demands of fast-paced living and then feel guilty for even desiring to rest, this book is a breath of fresh air. The following statement sums up Gorman’s thesis: “A theology of health affirms that self-care is not selfish but gives us greater energy to love God and others wholeheartedly.” This book contains eight chapters that provide the reader with a biblical theology that is applicable to daily life. It is simple but not simplistic. In the first chapter, Gorman makes the case that self-care is not an optional add-on to the life of a disciple, but is to be a way of life that has significant implications for spiritual formation. He makes this case using Jesus’ own words. The author reflects upon Jesus’ admonition to “love your neighbor as yourself,” pointing out that Jesus does not say love your neighbor instead of yourself. He then asks the following question: “So do we
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love our neighbor or love ourselves first?” (14). The answer Gorman offers is in the form of an analogy from the airlines, when the cabin crew instructs every person, should cabin pressure fail, to put his or her own oxygen mask on first before helping someone else. Reading about Gorman’s own struggle for adequate self-care and the event that awakened him to the need to be more holistic makes reading this book feel like the author is sitting across the coffee table engaging in a casual conversation. Chapter two allows the reader to pause and reflect on God’s character and what it means to be created in God’s image. Because rest is grounded in the character of God, the reader is invited to explore what it means for us to reflect the character of God in a busy world. Rest and holiness are not concepts at war with one another, according to Gorman. Instead, he contends that they are words that naturally belong together in a distinctly Judeo-Christian framework. He states, “The idea of a God who rests was unusual in the ancient world as well. No other ancient, Near Eastern texts refer to Sabbath, a seven-day week, or seven-day creation.” He then goes on to say, “When we engage in Sabbath rest, we resist the powers of production that tell us that we are what we achieve, accomplish, and possess. Unlike the anxious gods of Egypt, who demanded constant production, Israel’s Yahweh is not “a workaholic. . . .” (25). The remaining chapters of the book provide real world application, reminding us that stewardship includes our whole person. There are challenges for every personality type. For example, the section on the role of play and hobbies may stretch the comfort level of a “Type A” personality. However,
this topic becomes an invitation into a deep Trinitarian fellowship. Gorman writes: “The word perichoresis indicates rotation. Traditional Greek dance involves dancing in circles, weaving in and out of each other. Dance is a celebration of life. Dance is playful, and early Greek theologians used this playful image of dance to imagine and describe the triune God” (70). The book addresses the importance of sleep, exercise, food, and the need to develop a healthy approach to all of life. Readers receive practical insights that help understand the physicality of our spirituality. For example, in relation to exercise, the author explains how physical activity has the ability to help us build “new and stronger neural networks in the brain, no matter what our age.” He asks the reader consider our relationship to food and the purpose of food. He does not prescribe a particular meal plan, but instead casts a vision about how significant food is to us. He even incorporates the role of food into the Christian calendar as he gives an example of his experience of giving up processed foods during Lent. One of the best qualities of this book is the conversational style and gracious tone that comes from Gorman’s vulnerability. Because the tone of this book is conversational and welcoming, the reader does not feel shamed into certain behaviors. I found myself examining my own life with a sense of hope and conviction that I could actually make progress in living happy, healthy, and holy. This book is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Rather it is an invitation to adopt life changes through the process of Spirit-led self-discovery. The author incorporates a Wesleyan theological framework, connecting this to our heritage in an eye-opening and refreshing way. In the beginning of the book Gorman remarks, “John Wesley referred to God’s healing work in human beings as ‘soul therapy.’ Sanctification and holiness are terms he used more often, but what he means by ‘soul therapy’ is the healing of the soul in all its faculties. This is holiness through and through” (20). With the reflection questions at the end of each chapter, combined with the
theological coherence that the book offers, any pastor or lay leader could utilize this book in a small group study with ease.
JOHN COMSTOCK is the leader of Discipleship Place, a discipling initiative of the USA/ Canada Region.
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REVIEW R e v ie w : Let Us Prey: The Plague of Narcissist Pastors and What We Can Do About It, R. Glenn Ball and Darrell Puls (Eugene, Oregon: Cascade Books, 2017). 193 Pages. R e v i e w e r : T i n a P i ta m b e r
et Us Prey: The Plague of Narcissist Pastors and What We Can Do About it, written by Glenn Ball and Darrell Puls, is based on the authors’ experience of working with pastors. Ball and Puls have about 70 years of experience in organizational (secular and church) conflict between them. Ball has three decades of work in ordained denominational ministry in Canada, and he wrote his dissertation on narcissism in pastors in North America. Puls has worked with churches in conflict in many denominations. Their experiences and study of pastors in North America has sparked their burden to write about narcissism and the pastorate. This book opens with the story of a pastor named “Bob” (not his real name). The reader learns the behavior of a narcissistic pastor through the story of the real life interactions pastor Bob has with the leadership and laity in his church. This story provides the key theme of the book: Narcissism is real and can be identified in pastors. Further into the book, the authors clearly define narcissism, specifically a mental disorder called Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). According to the book, narcissistic people have the following traits (p. 23): a. Have a high sense of self-importance b. Fantasize about success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love c. Believe they are special d. Require excessive admiration e. Feel entitled f. Take advantage of others to achieve goals
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g. Are envious of other people’s success or feel others are envious of them h. Are arrogant As the authors put it, a person with NPD “preys on unsuspecting people, manipulates and uses them until they are no longer useful, and then discards them as yesterday’s trash” (p. 19). What is particularly troubling for Ball and Puls is that narcissism is found in our present-day pastors, and this culture of narcissism can spread to the entire congregation. The middle section of the book elaborates on pastors with NPD by discussing the work and habits of the narcissist pastors. These sections include real stories, discussions of the narcissist as leader, an overview of the study conducted by Ball, and the spiritual life of a narcissistic pastor. Although the focus of the book is on narcissistic pastors, Ball and Puls also include a section that identifies and explains characteristics of the narcissistic church and how narcissism can permeate the entire church culture. The last section of the book deals with the area of healing: How can a person or a church that has been the victim of a narcissistic pastor take steps towards healing? The book also gives recommendations for how a church can guard against hiring a narcissistic pastor as well as specific suggestions to help with the disturbing reality of pastors with NPD. This book does an excellent job of explaining Narcissistic Personality Disorder is and how it is lived out in the life of a pastor and a church. The reader will gain an understanding of the characteristics
can a person or a church that
has been the victim of a narcissistic pastor take steps towards healing?
of an NDP pastor, as well as learning the ways a NPD pastor can affect an entire congregation. Clergy readers will find themselves self-reflecting: Do I struggle with NPD characteristics? Am I leading a church toward an NPD culture? Important self-reflection is an important gift this book provides to readers. Churches will learn practical steps on how to interview and call a pastor in order to spot and therefore avoid an NPD approach from its leadership. The only drawback of this book is that the reader will likely find that Ball and Puls are sometimes redundant. However, this repetition allows them to emphasize the key themes and provides pastors and other church leaders with plenty to consider.
TINA PITAMBER is pastor of Solid Rock Community Church of the Nazarene in Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada.
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REVIEW R e v ie w : N euroscience and C hristian F ormation , M ark A. M a ddix and D ean G. B levins , eds . (C harlot te : I n f o r mation A g e , 2016). 172 pages . R e v i e w e r : Z a c h a r i a h E ll i s
ark Maddix, Professor of Practical Theology at Point Loma Nazarene University, and Dean Blevins, Professor of Practical Theology and Christian Discipleship at Nazarene Theological Seminary, bring together ten other authors from diverse backgrounds, including Christian educators, psychologists, and theologians, to consider how the field of neuroscience informs our understanding of formation. After Laura Barwegen and Dean Blevins introduce neuroscience and the technology that allows us to study brains, the next eight chapters summarize current research trends and put them into conversation with Christian formation. Major topics include neuroplasticity, anthropology, and mirror neurons. Those who lead Christian education and formation ministries—pastors, teachers, Bible study leaders, youth and children’s ministry leaders—will all find helpful information and ideas to improve their practices of community formation. Much of the book revolves around the idea of neuroplasticity, which “describes the way the brain’s nerve cells [neurons] . . . change their structures and their connections with each other due to different stimuli” (45-46). Since the 1998 discovery by scientists that adult brains are still malleable, a flurry of scientific research into neuroplasticity has started to influence other fields, such as education, theology, and ethics. In chapter five, Karen Choi considers studies on meditation and mindfulness and concludes that the dynamic process of scriptural meditation can change our
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brains so that the “content, strength, and centrality” of our beliefs is positively affected (60). In chapter eight, Dean Blevins considers how worshipping together shapes our lives as the practices in which we engage become “almost autonomic” (101). When life becomes chaotic, this allows our brains to more naturally engage in practices of Christian worship—singing, praying, meditating on Scripture, etc. Neuroplasticity allows Christian leaders a way to understand how the people in our congregations are being formed and molded over the years as they continue to seek God. Another major theme that this volume explores is anthropology. Can we reduce the human experience to biological processes such as the “firing” of our neurons (ontological reductionism)? Or perhaps we are two separate parts, a soul and body, with the former simply being a shell from which the latter must be released (radical dualism). The views of the authors in this volume fall somewhere in between the two. Most advocate for nonreductive dualism, a monist view of humans that understands humans to have only one substance, the physical, but believes there is a spiritual aspect of what it means to be human that cannot be ignored. In chapter 7, Brad Strawn and Warren Brown show how this anthropology directs us to pay attention to our context, because “the nature of the body and its actions in the world influence the nature of the mind” (89). In Christian education, this means we must situate our learning through stories, pay attention to relationships, and consider the physical space of Christian formation. All of these contextual matters affect learning if we take a nonreductive dualist stance. Other
anthropologies will lead to other pedagogies with which Christian leaders must wrestle. The final major theme focuses on the mirror neuron system (MNS). In the 1990s, a team of scientists discovered that monkeys’ brains activated in a similar way both when they performed certain actions and when they viewed other animals or humans performing similar actions. This soon led to the discovery of mirror neurons in humans, which explains why stories, examples, and observations can shape us so profoundly. When we see actions and hear stories to which we can relate, our MNS activates. In chapter six, Timothy Paul Westbrook urges readers to grapple with how mirror neurons should change the way we teach in intercultural settings, where there might be few shared experiences. Westbrook argues that the classroom must shift their teaching methods so that everybody’s MNS can activate and help make sense of events. In chapter eight, Blevins discusses how mirror neurons affect our experience in our communal gatherings. When we are in a worship service, viewing others’ physical and emotional responses activates our own MNS as we remember past worshipful experiences. This knowledge can help us facilitate spiritual formation as we craft our communal practices to encourage greater involvement of our whole beings. Overall, I was intrigued by the premise of this book and was left pondering how these insights might change the way I preach, teach, and engage in community formation. There are many other chapters that touch on these themes and others, including chapters on childhood (ch. 9) and adult development (ch. 10), neuroscience and spirituality (ch. 11), and teaching to those with neurodevelopmental learning disorders (ch. 12). The discussion questions at the end of each chapter are helpful tools to bring the findings of neuroscience into conversation with your own ministry. At times, the book is more geared toward Christian educators (college professors, educators at Christian schools) than pastors and other church leaders. Readers might also find some redundancies as different authors explain the same concepts. Nonetheless, this book can be a helpful resource for pastors and
other church leaders as they seek to more faithfully and effectively shape a community. Maddix and Blevins provide an accessible breakdown of complex information and do a lot of the hard work of showing its relevance to ministry. I pray other pastors and church leaders would find it as beneficial to their ministries as I have.
ZACHARIAH ELLIS is an ordained elder in the Church of the Nazarene and a Ph.D. candidate in Practical Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary.
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BENEDICTION The Calling
hen I was a boy, life always revolved around our little Nazarene church. Mom and dad made sure we were there every Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, and every night for the two-week revivals. By the time I was 18, I had an advanced degree in how to behave in church. Sing loud. Pray hard. Keep your nose clean. Be nice. And always keep your ears open, because God might be calling you to Christian service. So, I listened, and God called me when I was around nine years old. It is hard to explain. I just knew it down deep. I never seriously considered doing anything else with my life. I knew Christ had called me to preach and to shepherd people. It has been a challenging, yet enjoyable, journey. The best part of this calling was being there when people took their first breaths and their last breaths—when babies were born and people were dying. Moments like that put everything into perspective. I was amazed that, because of God’s calling, I had the privilege of being called “Pastor,” I had a 24-hour-a-day standing invitation to be included in the most intimate moments of people’s lives. I have loved ministry. Of course, I have at times been exhausted by it, frustrated by it, and hurt by it. But mostly, I have been blessed by it. I yearn for others to know this joy and fulfillment. As a teenager, my pastor knew of my call, so he invited me to go hospital calling with him. He invited me to listen in as he dealt with folks at the altar. He gave me opportunities to preach and sing and teach. He mentored me through these actions, and so, to be
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faithful to his generosity, I must pass this on. Pastor, do you have anyone like that in your congregation? They are there. Seek her out. Find him. They may be the quiet, awkward kids around the edges of the congregation. They await nurturing and tending. They could easily blossom into the minister you had always hoped to be. Deep in your heart, you will know that you have completed the circle a little more. The garden of the Kingdom will bloom in even greater depth and color. Here is an excerpt from a pamphlet, “The High Calling” that Dr. Dennis Kinlaw shared with me years ago. I have shared this piece written by G. D. Watson often. It begins with these words: If God has called you to be truly like Jesus, He will draw you into a life of crucifixion and humility. The author continues: So make up your mind that God is an infinite Sovereign who has a right to do as He pleases with His own, and that He may not explain to you a thousand things, which may puzzle your reasons in His dealing with you. This is the high calling that we are to pass along.
USA/Canada Regional Director
USA/Canada Regional Office Church of the Nazarene 17001 Prairie Star Parkway Lenexa, KS 66220
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Grace & Peace Magazine is designed for clergy in the Church of the Nazarene who are ordained in the USA/Canada Region. This issue focuses o...
Published on Jul 15, 2018
Grace & Peace Magazine is designed for clergy in the Church of the Nazarene who are ordained in the USA/Canada Region. This issue focuses o...