Monday, January 5, 2009

4 Traits of Organic Pastoring

Have we lost the art of pastoring? Are the biblically-shaped rhythms for shepherding getting left behind while pastors go looking wherever their cheese got moved to?

These are the (really) bare bones of an article idea I have.

These ideas are related to those in a previous post of mine called Gospel Intentionality: Programs vs. Ordinary Life.

I am defining "organic pastoring" as cultivating kingdom rhythms in the discipleship culture of your church by living and ministering within the real lives of those in the community. This, as opposed to managing how this might be done entirely by other people. (I don't know that that's bad, but I don't know that it's pastoring.)

This is not 4 ways to pastor organically. These are 4 traits (but not the only 4) pastors ought to have to pastor organically.

1. Flexibility

The bigger the ship, the harder it is to turn and the longer it takes to complete a turn. Self-discipline is not only good, it is necessary, but self-rigidity is not. At what point does "always think outside the box" become a box? Are programs and systems more important than people? Does improvising unsettle you? Do you find yourself considering the 1 difficult person expendable to The Vision and Mission™ because the 99 are more comfortable?
Cut it out. People weren't created to be managed, but to be loved. Your daytimer might help you work, but real life is messy because real lives are broken. Pastoring is frequently inconvenient.

2. Gospel Wakefulness

You can get the gospel but not get the gospel. Have you been scandalized? Been granted a huge forgiveness by someone or granted someone a huge forgiveness? Felt the weight of the cross in real life? It's like a switch flips on. Maybe it happened to you at conversion, but if you grew up in church, it's likely it happened after. Maybe you (super)naturally have a great gospel wakefulness apart from a real-life brush-up against the scandal of grace, but that's rare.
In any event, the problem with people and the world is sin and separation from God (six of one . . .), and the solution is the gospel. Not advice, not skills, not feelings. The solution is who Jesus is and what Jesus did. If this isn't the motivation and the movement of what you do -- intentional, articulated, unadulterated -- you're probably one of those life coach guys, not a pastor.

The reason this is important is because gospel-wakened pastors get less frustrated with people not behaving in convenient ways.

3. Patience

Throw your timetable away. Burn your charts. You are not in control.
The Spirit is like the wind; he goes where he pleases.
An impatient pastor is the guy who thinks a Chia Pet is a harvest.

4. Faithfulness

Success is not success. Faithfulness is. Organic pastoring means trusting that this is true even when the entire world tells you it is not.

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