This past Saturday, I spent the day with fellow seminary students enrolled in the Children, Youth, and Family (CYF) program at Luther Seminary. We all were presenting our thesis papers, the culmination of 2-4 years of thinking deeply about ministry with people in the first third of life, the church, and our role as leaders in ministry and the church. I will just say, there were a lot of ideas sparked in my head as I listened to classmates – really smart, passionate people. These are ideas and questions I will carry with me as I head into pastoral ministry in a church this year (I hope!), and I want to share some of them with you:
– Stewardship needs to be the lens at which we look at congregational life and ministries, especially in a world of consumerism that drives people to value competition out of scarcity (take what’s mine mentality).
– Should milestone-based ministries be linked to biological events (pregnancy, for example) in our lives just as much as liturgical/religous ones (baptism, comfirmation)? If so, parish nursing becomes a crucial member of a church staff, and in pastoral care ministry.
– Do children’s ministers, directors, and pastors need to adopt a chaplaincy model of ministry to young children (before adolescence) rather than an educational one? Do they need to redefine their commitments to children’s ministries to promoting care and imagination of life, rather than inculcation of information and belief?
– When we use the word “discipleship,” what do we mean? What implications do those definitions have for how the faith is proclaimed, witnessed to, shared, heard, and experienced by those inside and outside the church? (or, in a more provacative way: is disipleship a “dead” word in a post-Christandom church?)
– Do we need a completely new expression of church for young adults (not married, no children, no long-term career), and do we need specific young adult pastors and ministers to do ministry for and with them?
– As Lutherans, what if we looked beyond the confessional understanding of “proclamation = preaching/hearing” and saw it more expansively? What would it mean that a ministry of presence is also a ministry of proclamation, and actually lived that commmitment out? Does community simply mean a space of vulnerability, where our shame is worked through and we are made whole?
– Is there something “unnatural” about Christ, Christianity, and the cross up an against the natural order of the world? What does it mean then that our lives as story are not just merged, but swallowed up by the cross, so that our particularities as humans isn’t wiped away, but rather revealed? Do our current models of congregational life and leadership in the church hinder and hide such particularities?
Lots of good stuff that I wanted to share with you all, so that you may wrestle with it as well, just as I am. I’d love to hear your comments on one, two, or all of them!