Friday, May 05, 2006

"Pastoral" ministry

D. G. Hart has a wonderful set of observations here about pastoral ministry. His point, drawing from Wendell Berry, is that, biblically speaking, pastoral ministry owes more to agricultural imagery than to mechanical ones. Such an understanding shifts our approach to our care of souls--a longer term vision of nurture, cultivation, and care as opposed to a short-term, hit-and-run, impersonal approach.

What is so helpful here is the reminder that to be "pastoral" means we are related to shepherds, herders, and rural life. The rhythms are slower, the progress is measured differently, the need for long-term investment is greater, the work is physically harder, and the grace is more real because more directly experienced. The miracle of new birth, growth, and fruit is the miracle of God's grace--a miracle we are more prone to see when we think in agrarian, as opposed to mechnical, terms.

1 comment:

Chris said...

Sean, interesting in light of an article I read yesterday (on plane ride home from Augusta) in Leadership mag. It was an interview with Andy Stanley who was making the argument we needed to completely do away with the metaphor of pastors being shepherds. He said it was so completely artificial to our culture today that it would not translate to people.....