Saturday, November 14, 2009

HELP! Statement on Ministry

hey y'all.. i'm writing my statement on ministry and was wondering if i can get some help here. this statement is to show what i think my ministry is supposed to be and do.

let me know what you think:

Ministers are dangerous prophets of immanence and transcendence. This means that ministers are:

Prophetic: Ministers speak out against social and systematic evil. Ministers are committed to doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with God. In the words of Jesus, they seek to live by the Great Commandment: loving God and loving their neighbors – including those who might be considered “the least of these” or enemies. They comfort the afflicted and afflict the comforted.

Immanent: Ministers are relevant and aware of what is going on around them. They are able to creatively engage the present with elements of their tradition. Ministers affirm the historic Christian faith and the biblical injunction to love one another even when we disagree. Ministers embrace many historic spiritual practices, including prayer, meditation, contemplation, study, art and music, solitude, silence, service, and fellowship, believing that healthy theology cannot be separated from healthy spirituality.

Transcendent: Ministers look for the activity of God in the world and the greater meaning in everyday life. Ministers then spread the Good News of God’s presence to others and this fires the communal imagination. People are then able to maximizing their unique gifts, heart, abilities, personality and experiences in a meaningful place of service through the church to the wider community and from the community to the world.

This then makes Ministers and those around them like Jesus, namely; Dangerous: The record of the church and ministry has shown how the Good News has been co-opted, abused, misused, and controlled by nearly everyone. The life and teachings of Christ gives us more questions than answers. The more questions raised the better and deeper dialogue and thus a better chance at building true, loving relationships. This method is much organic, inclusive, and uncontrolled. It is counter to the systems we build that inherently block this truth in the name of controlling and measuring. The last thing we need is another system as we’ve had the answer in each other all along.

Ministers point to a religious experience and way of living that is beyond our control. Because it arises from responsiveness to what God is doing among us, such experience cannot be channeled or domesticated to our tastes or political ideologies. There is mystery in our existence, God acts in ways that defy explanation or institutionalization. God calls for genuine repentance and a commitment to the life-style of a covenanted people.

Ministers call others to join in the activity of God in the world. In the process, the world can be healed and changed, and so can we.


Al said...

That is awesome!! I expect that you have chosen your words quite intentionally, and said and not said things by design.
For instance:
--your use of the word minister and ministry. You didn't say pastor or a particular clerical term because you wanted to both broaden and deepen the idea to be much more than that.
--you didn't talk about administrative tasks, sermonizing, or leading business meetings. Instead you lay a philosophy of actively seeking justice and compassion perhaps including but not limited to sermons and other 'churchy' things.
--you take the minister out of the ivory tower and put him (you) in the middle of culture, engaging it.
--you separate yet connect theology and spirituality--knowing that one without the other is unbalanced.
--you relish the thought of being dangerous instead of controlled.
--you keep your eyes on the richness of past church history, outward at society, and in every direction to find God at work.

It's not your typical job description. But it's attainable and I expect your heart is already there.
You aren't looking for a group of people to lead as much as a group of people who will serve with you.
Count me in!

Yael said...

Sorry, Luke, but I disagree with Al. When I helped my kid with his college applications I told him that what he writes needs to reflect him, not 'Average College Freshman'. It took some work and cutting through all the buzz words, but in the end if you read his statements you would indeed see my son.

What I read from your statement I did not come away thinking, wow, this is really Luke, but instead thought this could be anyone. You're not just anyone. Why not go deeper and reveal Luke? :)

Luke said...


thank you for your enthusiasm!


what's missing? what do you think i could put in to "make it Luke"? i have about 3/4 of a page to work with. this is more of a preamble to the rest of my profile to get hired. it was very hard and frustrating just to write this, so thanks for your comments, i'm just unsure as to where to take it. maybe if you spell out what makes Luke, Luke; that might be of some light to this path ;-)

good to see you on here again, i'm honored by your comment!

Anglican Gurl said...

I had to look up what "immanence" means and I think you're using it incorrectly. Maybe you mean "imminent" as you speak of relevance? Why not just use "relevance and transcendence?"

Kate said...

@AG: That's exactly what I said. I think "Relevant" would be a better choice, and the average layperson on a minister-selection committee would know what it meant.

I also would add some more "feedback loop" stuff (how the minister can be changed by his/her congregation as well). Love it!

Anonymous said...

"Ministers are dangerous prophets of immanence and transcendence."
how are you dangerous?
"Ministers affirm the historic Christian faith "
every time I approach you with an element of historic faith, you dismiss it as Calvinistic. You deny the complete sovreinty of god, the reliance on Jesus for salvation. You question the physicality of the resurrection. the bible only contains the word of god and is not THE word of god. I happen to like your stance, which should be wrong, the preaching of the gospel SHOULD cause offense. I dont believe I have ever known you to affirm historic Christian faith.
"The record of the church and ministry has shown how the Good News has been co-opted, abused, misused, and controlled by nearly everyone. "
You have no "good news" Luke because you are a universalist, therefore you have no bad news, which would make good news good. Your approach to the gospel seems Laodicean to me, you offend no one, you are neither hot nor cold, so you are vomited out.
"such experience cannot be channeled or domesticated to our tastes"
yet it seems, to me, that is what you do.
"God calls for genuine repentance and a commitment to the life-style of a covenanted people."
that is the most hard core religious thing I have ever seen from your postings. Now you sound like a christian.
Sorry if my observations sting. Like I said, I like your brand of christianity, I am an atheist, and my likeing it, should be cause for concern. Jesus said that " the servant is no better than the master, if they hate me, they will hate you"

Mayim said...

Luke, I don't understand how you are using prophecy. To me, it's more than just preaching. At least in my tradition, it's not just passing on words of religion, it also contains foretelling based upon some supposed direct communication from G*d. Surely you aren't comparing all ministers or yourself with the likes of Moses or Elijah, are you?

Al said...

Anon, it appears to me that you are equating 'historic Christian faith' with the theology of the last 500 years. 'Fundamentalists' do the same, but there are others who honestly are trying to understand Christianity from its roots 2000 years ago (and even longer). They do not necessarily hold to the more modern views you mention.
"I happen to like your stance, which should be wrong." "I like your brand of christianity, I am an atheist, and my likeing it, should be cause for concern." Why don't you want a Christian to have some of the same ideas/values/theology that you do? Just because you are an atheist doesn't mean that you can't share a lot of other ideas in common. Not all Christians are automatically on the opposite side of a debate with atheists.
Sure, there will be differences. There will be places for passionate debate. But I think Luke is one of those kind of guys who wants to engage discussion, not throw a couple Bible verses at it and assume his understanding is correct.
Although I haven't known Luke for very long, I think he is intentionally not in the same league as many other preachers.

Luke said...

Anon, wow. that stings. i almost regret posting this in here for help because of your response. and if you've "ever known you to affirm historic Christian faith." then you haven't been paying attention.


you hit on something here. namely, what is a minister? my answer is that we all are sooner or later. Moses and Elijah were just regular dudes who didn't want the charge but took it anyway. they spoke for societal change, justice, and renewed commitment to one another. i don't buy into the 'foretelling' aspect of prophecy like it's a nostradamus thing. more over, i read that as "if you don't renew community, this is what will happen." and the prophets are right! so prophecy is speaking out against injustice and calling ppl to COEXIST and live together for a higher cause/power. that's how i understand prophecy and i learned it from a local reform Rabbi here in the area, Jack Paskcov. might not be your tradition or understanding. thanks for your response, i'll have to work that in somehow.


i'm amazed at the grace in your response and that which is directed at me. thanks!

Anonymous said...

Luke, I am sorry. I have been, or at least tried to, pay attention to your postings and opinions, they are just so foreign to my understanding of christianity, that I do not really know where to stand with you or if need be, how to debate you.

Al said...

Anon (and I know that you do truly have an identity, we just don't have a handle for you!), you have helped me see something that I know exists, but don't always remember--none of us fit into stereotypes very well. Many Christians have certainly tried to make it look like there is one size that fits all, but we each really have our own take on things. The same is true for non-christians. I might be tempted to paint you a certain way, from what I think an atheist might look or act like. Guess what! I'd probably be very inaccurate.
I don't even like using the term atheist, because I sense things going on inside you that I'd rather not label that way. The fact that you are part of this discussion is awesome. (Maybe someday soon we will be able to call you Fred, or Sally or some other more personal title.)

Yael said...

Ah, you're asking me to put my money where my mouth is...I'll think about it tonight while I'm at work and see what I come up with, right now I'm watching football, Vikes just won, now cheering for Green Bay to lose!

Yeah, blogging wears me down too much so I'm only just starting to look around again. I always need time away to clear my mind. I know there are many Jews who could care less about any of the things that bother me, but that doesn't change anything since I'm not them! I'm thinking I might just write about history the next time I take up blogging, if I take it up again. I'm working on a new project for my shul at the moment, however, so no time right now anyway.

Erudite Redneck said...

Ministers, in Jesus's name, minister in Jesus's name.

I need, and those nearest and dearest to me, need ministering. Now.

Young brother, I know you have a framework within which to work, which is "a paper to write." I know. For, as you know, I'm now in the same Christian-academic setting you're in.

Be as radical as the one to whom we look to, through a dark glass. Find a way to get this into your statement.

My tent-making (nod to Brother Paul), is editing and language: a minister does not "is" -- only Yahweh is-was-will-be. A minister like Jesus does. And I know you know that.

Please DO pray for me, and mine, of for no other reason than, as Brother Spong puts it, "We can't help it."

Because my "is," right now, sucks.

I love you, young brother, though we've never met.

RAWK on!


Sabio Lantz said...

Hey Luke,

I imagine Christian input is primary, but maybe an ex-Christian's input may be useful. I am hoping my input helps (no matter what you decide to make it into) to keep it from being generic & nobel-sounding (self-inflating). I love your intent here and admire you putting it out like this. Good luck on forging it.

So, here goes.


(1) Is a "Statement of Ministry" a common exercise for Pastors?
(2) What is the PURPOSE of such a statement?
(2) Do you think your "ministry" is discovered -- that is, your god has a plan for you and you are discovering it and describing your gods use of you. Or do you think it is chosen? [I imagine you will say, "both", smile]


(1) You wrote your Statement of Ministry prescriptively (what ALL ministers should be) instead of descriptively (what you see yourself being). I think you should keep it personal and not "do this !"

(2) Prophetic: "walking humbly" and yet you have this HUGE declaration of your goals. You will only speak against a few social or systematic evils. You won't probably won't speak to all sorts of countries or all sorts of injustices in other religions. You will speak against those in your garden best. And even then you will speak limited to your political theory though other Christians may disagree with your theory. So it will always be limited to Luke and not the great Divine.

(3) Immanent: Again, "Ministers embrace ..." -- you mean "Luke embraces". And what does "Embrace"? You practice all these? You tolerate all these? You think all these are cool? You think all these are useful? You support all these?

(4) Transcendent: Sounds OK, again, I'd just make it personal.

(5) Dangerous: Again, sounds bragging ! Sounds like your job is like a Marshal, so powerful and such a threat to all the bad guys. You are going to clean up heretics, scream against evils, fight misimpressions, and boldly face questions that the rest of us mortals are afraid of --- you will come to our aid. (I wonder if the Christian mystics (think Thomas Merton) would ever write like this -- it sounds so, well, "evangelical")

Your "Statement of Ministry" is just a job description, after all -- and YOUR job description. We all have jobs. Even non-ministers do many of the things you talk about, even atheists. I think you should write it keeping that in mind. Otherwise, gee , your job sounds so special, so holy, so important, so much more vital that all the stuff we do. Or, maybe we should all write "Statements of Ministry" because we all do this to some extent anyway, don't we. You are just making money off it.
This is not said meanly but said to give an outsider perspective so you can ignore or use to inform your crafting of your statement.

I agree with Yael: loose all the buzz words and all the coolness and all the attempts to stay flexible. Be more authentic.

I've got to go to work -- thought I'd type of something for you to bounce off of. Again, I think your intent is great, I am just offering one perspective. Best wishes.

Luke said...


THANK YOU! lot to chew on there and i didn't want to sound like i'm bragging... just what MY ideal would be. i'll sit and think on it.

Sabio Lantz said...

Wheew, glad you took it well.
You are on my list of "Would be an excellent next door neighbor", so was just trying to be helpful -- kind of like when my wife corrects my essays.

Also, I think I just realized that this is a homework assignment which means you have certain conformity/expectations and grade pressures within your seminary. Which would be different, possibly, if this were a mere personal undertaking.

Again, best wishes with the undertaking !