Wednesday, July 16, 2008

pastoring with a Phd

John Stackhouse has been writing about why do a PhD, and then a fascinating plea for more pastors who do PhD’s and offer a thinking, preaching, pastoral ministry. All of relevance to me, firstly, because I am a pastor with a PhD, who also lectures in a seminary. And secondly, because my seminary (BCNZ) employer has forced me to think about that combination as it affects my future.

Last week I went through the somewhat humiliating process of having to re-apply for my lecturing job and then the relief of being offered that job again. So after all the angst, it is steady as she goes, part-time pastor, part-time lecturer.

It’s given me lots to think about, in terms of how my gift-mix might mix with academy and parish. And caused me to write this on a recent winter’s morning.

“I have much to give thanks for. A pastoral job which gives me sabbaticals – time to reflect, write, think, refresh, pause. A pastoral job which keeps me close to the Bible – reading Biblical text and commentaries. A pastoral job which pushes me – recent sermon series on Old Testament minor prophets and now Deuteronomy have been wonderfully enriching intellectual and spiritual challenge. A pastoral job which people’s me – among real life pain and quest and hunger and connection. A pastoral job with team – the gifts and passions of Paul and Craig, and Ken and Dierdre, and Lynne and Dave – there’s much goodness in and among. A job with creativity – changing our auditorium space in May, communion last week with the haunting cellist, etc etc. It’s a rich and diverse job, even at 7 a.m. on a winters morning.”

Such are the upsides and so cause me to agree with John, the church needs PhD’s in the pastorate. If I have time and the inkling, I might note some of the negatives.

Posted by steve at 12:55 PM


  1. if you are interested Steve I found this article quite helpful and challenging;

    Comment by mark — July 17, 2008 @ 5:15 pm

  2. Let me also add Steve; thanks for this post. It has really spoken to me. It has steeled my resolve to continue (not that I was thinking otherwise) in the church and the need for more Phd Pastors. I will begin my Masters this coming Semester and I am lucky to be a part of a church that is willing to give me time and space to do so. What I find refreshing about you and your ministry at Opawa is that it is grounded in both Academic research and the practical aspect of daily ministry; you think about what you are doing and why you are doing it.



    Comment by mark — July 17, 2008 @ 5:24 pm

  3. Thank you a timely reminder to stay the course when all seems trivial when faced with the challenges of day to day life.
    Pleased about the reappointment it can be a stressful time
    Meg in the storm

    Comment by Megan — July 17, 2008 @ 6:04 pm

  4. Megan,

    “God in the storm” was the phrase from the lectionary reading on Sunday that caught a number of ears around Opawa; as we buried a dear member on Tuesday, we prayed to “God in the storm.”

    Not “after”, not “before”; simply “in”

    peace, steve

    Comment by steve — July 17, 2008 @ 11:10 pm

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