See the previous post for an explanation of what prompted these reflections.
2. Describe your understanding of the Office of the Public Ministry
If the church is the Bride of Christ, and Christ is the Bridegroom, those who stand in the Office of the Public Ministry fill the role of the Friend of the Bridegroom. They take care of the Bride, keeping her safe and protecting her so that she is ready for the wedding. They take care of the arrangements, the food and drink that the guests will have. They take care of the guests, providing them with the robes of forgiveness and righteousness that they will need to celebrate this wedding properly and enjoyably. They make sure everyone has a place and feels welcome in the celebration.
And they look forward with great anticipation to the arrival of the Bridegroom. He has been away a long time and has entrusted all the arrangements to His Friend. The Friend is glad of His trust, and wants everything to be good and right. He is not afraid of losing the approval of the Bridegroom or of disappointing Him; but he is such a Friend to the Bridegroom that He cannot imagine how anyone would not want to join in the celebration.
5. Describe your pastoral approach and practice
In addition to the basic Friend of the Bridegroom image above, my approach and practice center on the idea that the word “Pastor” means “shepherd.” It does not mean any of the following: chairman, CEO, leader, vision-caster, strategic planner, fixer, analyst, or administrator. Each of these words carry with it a certain array of tasks to be done and skills to be exercised, but even taken all together they do not entirely comprise the calling that is named “pastor.” Yet in the United States in this day and age many in the church tend to look outside the church for models of how to operate. We find exciting, “successful,” and “growing” techniques and images, and turn to them because they give us a sense of accomplishment. Yet it seems like a shepherd rarely “accomplishes” anything – he just cares for the sheep over a long period of time, without any measure of “success” or “achievement.” But he probably doesn’t care about those kinds of things, because he just loves the sheep that are entrusted to his care.
My “approach and practice” has been growing in recent years to be much more like a “shepherd.” In the end, I’d be disappointed if people summarized my “pastoral approach and practice” by saying things like “he was a successful pastor” or ‘he knew how to run a church.” In the end, I’d much rather that people summarized that “approach and practice” by saying things like “we caught glimpses of Jesus in him.”