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The Aroma Of Memory

A funeral for a Christian man, whose life was the aroma of Jesus.

At the graveside his family were given sprigs of rosemary, the herb of remembrance, to cast in the grave.

Holding the herb, squeezing it gently, breathing in the herbaceous sweet woody aroma provided a pause to collect final memories of this man, and of his wife who had preceded him to heaven.

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, … because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.”

Philippians 1:3,5


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Five Prayer Ministries (via Thom Rainer)

Thom Rainer shares five prayer ministries that would be new to many, but are good ideas.

  1. Prayer over the facilities
  2. Senior adult/retirees guided prayer ministries
  3. Worship service prayer ministry
  4. Prayer over guest cards
  5. 24/7 prayer ministry

He talks about them in this 12 minute video.


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The Pastor As Curator (via Daniel Darling)

I’ve been happy about not having the maintenance of an aged/decaying/historic building as part of my job description at MGPC.
So I’ve not thought of myself as a curator, someone occupied with the past.
Daniel Darling points out that there is an aspect of a pastor’s role that involves some level of curation.
We serve as conduits and gatekeepers with regard to resources and teaching for our congregation.
Even in this internet search engine driven age, pastors have the privilege of spending our time discovering and weighing up various resources.
And the trust we have means our recommendations carry weight. A teacher we value is unknown to most. It’s my recommendation of them that carries weight.
My former colleague Ian Touzel excelled at this.

From Daniel Darling:

This is a part of ministry that isn’t often mentioned in Bible college, one that I was never taught: the task of filtering and curating reliable, helpful resources for the people of God.
This early ministry experience was a fresh reminder of the gap that can exist between pulpit and pew, leadership and laity. Church leaders often live in a rarified Christian bubble; it can be easy to assume that everyone else is aware of pieces of Christian thought and culture that are just not on their radar. This is why leaders need to be proactive about leaving those bubbles and getting into the lives of their people to learn the conversations they’re a part of—and, when appropriate, invite them to participate in new ones.
In many ways, pastors and other church leaders act as gatekeepers. Church members assume their leaders are filtering out the very best kind of Christian resources and regularly making those things available. Of course, Christian content can be found in a variety of sources outside the church walls: Christian radio, the Internet, bookstores. But for the most part, church members are busy living their lives—busy with kids, careers, and finances. They depend on pastors, elders, deacons, and other mentors to be curators, to sort through the stacks of Christian content, choosing good resources and discouraging resources that confuse or distort the truth.

Read the rest of the article here.


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Not The Way That Ministry Works (via Sarah Condon)

Sarah Condon, writing about fame and self-destruction offers a peculiar, yet not alien observation about the background of some of those who enter pastoral ministry.

I have a mentor who often says about ordained people, “Something bad happened to you if you want to be a priest.” Meaning that people are attracted to ministry as a means by which to fix what is broken. Maybe we come from tough family situations and/or we have an endless and neurotic need for love and attention.
I was once in a clergy conference where the speaker asked how many of the people in the room had a mother who often “took to bed” or who was actively an alcoholic. In other words, how many people had mothers that they felt they needed to take care of when they were children? Easily 75% of the people in the room raised their hands.
For these people, there was the hope that the Church might be the Mother that would care for them. This is, of course, not at all the way ministry works.
And it is not the way fame works, either…
…fame, like the ministry, is not going to heal any deep wounds. In fact, it will exacerbate both.

Read the whole post here.


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On Silence As The Currency That Can Purchase Pastoral Formation (via Michael Milton)

Michael Milton provides counsel about formation as a minister of the Gospel in the guise of advice to a graduate, just about to begin pastoral ministry.
The observations he makes about preparation, pride, paradox and patience all ring true – and can be lessons that take a long time to learn. They are also applicable to many other areas of life.
From his introduction:

Silence can become a treasured and hard-earned currency in our sacred vocation. Silence is the legal tender that will buy the necessary implements for your greatest pastoral assignments: the salvation of others and the salvation and sanctification of yourself. I don’t mean to say that proclamation is secondary. It is not. Preaching is the use of words to declare the intent of God in the world. Silence is the way we best discover the words. Or, I should say, silence gives us the voice to speak and the capacity to understand what we mean. Silence may seem to be not only tenuous, inutile, but also a foolishly indistinct coinage of little value. Should you have that view now it will change later; that is, if you are to be used of the Lord. In your silence today, and I define silence as both a stillness of mind as well as tongue, a teachable posture of receiving, I want you to listen for the voice of God speaking to you through the sound of an old man. Hearing with the ears of your spirit will take more time to process. Spiritual listening is slower. But “slower” is something that you must acquire. In that process of hearing with your spirit, you will also discern what is the voice of the old man and what is the voice of God. The former can be used to fertilize your ministry or to be recognized as “spent” nutrients, with little proleptic power remaining. The latter is to be obeyed.

Read the whole post here.


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J.B. Roane And The Case Of The Belated Apology by Larry Parsley

At Mockingbird Larry Parsley offers a piece of short fiction featuring J.B. Roane – Pastor for Hire.
Rev. Roane is engaged by a man named Thornton who needs his assistance in conveying a belated apology.
“I’d like to hire you for job. It’s a little out of the ordinary. I should be able to do it myself, but dang it, I just can’t.”
If subsequent offerings remain at this standard I’d look forward to a collection.
Have a read at Mockingbird.


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Getting Rid Of The Messiah Complex

If you’ve talked to folk in churches that have a culture of decline they generally all agree there’s one reason that caused it and one solution to fix it: their pastor.
They seem oblivious to every choice they make as a church that cultivates decline, and wistfully yearn for the person who will see people come to their church while they continue to exercise the same churches that have resulted in decline.
What’s more disastrous is when the incoming pastor embraces the same narrative.
Churches so often get indulged in their disfunction.
That’s why this point from this article on five essentials to turn a declining church around by Joel Rainey appealed to me:

Get rid of the Messiah Complex.
There is a parable about a new pastor who, upon moving into his office, found three envelopes in his desk drawer. Each was marked to be opened for the first, second, and third major crises he would face. Before the end of the first year, he opened the first envelope in response to a major kerflufle to find these words; “This is from your predecessor. Blame everything on me.” It worked! But only for another six months. So when he opened the second envelope he read these words; “This is from your predecessor. Blame everything on my predecessor.” Again, that tactic managed to assuage the division. But three months later, in the midst of some of the nastiest conflict he had ever seen, he found himself opening that third envelope, where he read these words; “This is from your predecessor. Take a little time before you leave to prepare three envelopes for the next guy.”
The point? Presuming we are somehow “better” than those who came before us and thus will “save the church” is both arrogant and dangerous. In revitalization, we have a critical role to play, but just as former pastors aren’t solely responsible for a church in decline, we can’t be solely credited for bringing it back to life. That is the work of God alone. At the start, a number of God’s people will try to place you on that pedestal. For your own good, and theirs, refuse to sit on it.

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