What is Your Pastor Up To?
Healthy Pastors, Healthy Churches
I’ve been thinking recently how important it is for church leaders to stay alive to God. When we stop growing, we have little to offer others.
There is a saying in church circles, “healthy pastors, healthy churches.” Presbyterians encourage pastors to continue their studies and use their vacations. We provide benefits that care for their bodies as well as their souls.
Even so, keeping alive to God over a lifetime is difficult, especially in a culture that often feels like a giant centrifuge, pulling us away from our spiritual center.
But in Los Ranchos, I see that our pastors long to be faithful in the midst of their stresses. They seek to make a difference in their communities, beginning by staying alive to God themselves.
Staying One Step Ahead
I say this because I’ve been part of an interesting dialogue recently.
The team that plans our Pastors’ Retreat has historically invited theologians and church leaders to speak about their current work. Many world-class thinkers and practitioners have graced our times together.
But this year, the planning team took an additional step. We articulated five outcomes we hope will occur, and even included the outcomes in our invitation to Professor Cynthia Rigby, whom you may remember from last September’s Presbytery Gathering.
Here’s how the invitation read (edited for length):
Dear Dr. Rigby,
We are so glad you are interested in spending time strengthening the Church through being the presenter at the 2020 Pastors’ Retreat of Los Ranchos Presbytery!
As the committee which plans the retreat, we were thinking about how we can best spend this time together. The thoughts below are not meant to constrict you in any way but rather to open up space for God’s Spirit to do even more than we might imagine.
- We want to be challenged. We can and must do better so that we can more effectively proclaim the Gospel. Be prophetic! Take risks! You are invited to push us and challenge us.
- We want to bridge the old and new. It is critical that all of us find ways to not only deepen our roots but extend our branches. Are there parts of our tradition that need to be reimagined or rediscovered or reinterpreted? How are we failing in our communication of the Gospel to new generations?
- We want to never preach and lead the same way again.
- We want to know more of God’s grace and be transformed by it. We pray that God will use you to stir our hearts and minds and draw us out of our mires and into God’s marvelous light. Keep drawing us back to the fount of our faith for God’s love in Christ.
- We want to deepen the community of pastors in our presbytery and the other presbyteries who will hopefully be with us. So much of our own nurture takes place in the context of the life and fellowship of pastors with whom we are in community. Please look for ways to bring home this important aspect of our ministry going forward.
So, that’s what we are hoping for…
The Pastors’ Retreat Planning Team
The invitation increased my hope for the Church, which is already robust given the pastors we have in our presbytery. I’m glad that pastors like those on the planning team are finding ways to stay alive to God and preparing us all for a new type of seeker in our midst.
Due to space, and because I want to devote my next article to it, I will leave Dr. Rigby’s inspiring response until next time. But I hope you can see that your pastors are up to good things. Please support them as they grow in their own discipleship so that they might lead from an authentic and overflowing experience of God’s grace and truth.
With you on the way,