Thursday, September 17, 2009

pioneers and pastors part 2 – the community

In an earlier post, I focused on the individual and how the relationship between pioneer and pastor might actually be held in creative tension rather than poles part. In this post I plan to focus on the congregation. As with the first post, this is birthed out of 15 years of experience both pioneering from nothing and pioneering within an existing set up.

I actually have enormous reservations about the titles pioneer and pastor when they get applied at a group level.

If one is a pioneer, then it is easy for the community to get lazy, because the missional energy has been embodied in one person. “Oh, we have a pioneer, and we’re doing mission (because we pay them to do mission for us).” If one is a pastor, as defined in modernity, then it is easy for the community to get lazy, delegating being pastoral into one person. “Oh, we a have a pastor who does that stuff.”

This is even more so when applied in parish based systems. As I understand it, in parish based system the church is responsible for the whole village. Turn around and call for pioneers, and what on earth have our “pastors” been doing? And who are they caring for now?

So we need some way to apply pioneer to the community and pastor to the community, to be a pioneer/astoring body.

I find Philip in Acts a perplexing, teasing sort of character in this regard. He has three faces. A first face is as a deacon, serving to ensure justice in his divided community. Seems to me that is pioneering, setting up justice-enacting ministries. Yet it is also pastoral, a practical caring. A second face is as the evangelist, in Samaria and then most notably, with the Ethiopian Enuch. Definitely a pioneer. Who is taken by the Spirit to another place, and does not gain another mention until Acts 21:7-9, when he has four daughters one of whom prophesies. He has disappeared from a “pioneering” ministry. Lost his mojo? Lost the cutting edge, the excitement of pioneering mission? Yet has given his life to discipling a family, which continues the mission of God.

What “box” would the church of today have ordained Philip for I wonder?

Part 3 – an alternative lens is here

Posted by steve at 11:30 PM

1 Comment

  1. I dunno: I guess it is easy to say that God is not confined by our labels, but he doesn’t seem to be. I see this same pattern with Stephen- made a deacon and in the next chapter an evangelist. Perhaps God does this to stop us being ‘precious’ about ‘our’ calling.

    Maybe a ‘good’ pioneer has elements of being a pastor/administrator etc and vice versa. Maybe its kind of a Jungian stages of life thing or maybe liminal situations throw up new responses.

    As a good Methodist (whatever one of those is!) I’m inspired by Wesley beginning field preaching; which regardless of the mythology he never seemed to be comfortable with. As he began he said ‘I have submitted to be more vile.’ I’ve often found this to be useful- often God seems to push us into new situations where we feel ‘vile’ and not comfortable with…

    And I’ve just gone ‘off message’- sorry- I’m thinking aloud.

    Really enjoying this thinking out loud of yours- please share more… it is helping my thinking.

    Comment by Graham — September 18, 2009 @ 9:49 pm

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