Acts II to two acts : one pastor's journey home from church growth frustration to prayer and proclamation faith
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This project is a personal and pastoral invitation to church leaders to devote themselves to prayer and a ministry of the word as the central task of their vocation. Through autobiographical method and phrases from Eugene H. Peterson's translation of Acts 6:1-4, this paper puts one pastor's contemporary experience through the filter of the early church's experience in a way that is descriptive and prescriptive for church leaders today.
Chapter one begins with "hard feelings." This chapter does not market a plan for a perfect church and pastor. Instead, it describes. Through journals, recorded dreams and personal correspondence it explores some of the pressures and pains of ministry. It suggests that pastors and parishes may need, like the early church, to refocus because of what qualitative research and autobiographical method suggest many in the church are experiencing.
Chapter two supplements autobiographical method with group process and family systems analysis. It documents the first two years of one new pastorate where the pastor intentionally focuses on prayer and proclamation. Comments from a team of congregational members measure the effectiveness of such an approach. Family systems theory monitors the response of the larger congregation. Theories on managing change and research into the start of new pastorates round out this chapter on "a meeting of the disciples."
Chapter three suggests it wouldn't be right for pastors and parishioners to turn away from focusing on a ministry of the Word. Using the parable of the soils as its central metaphor, this chapter critiques the church growth movement as a distraction from what pastors should have as their primary focus. The author's own experience as a church planter in the Reformed Church in America, his travels to Israel, his extensive study in commentaries on the book of Acts and the mentoring of Eugene H. Peterson all are the soil out of which this chapter grows.
Chapter four joins word ministry with a waiting ministry inviting pastors, parents and parishioners to pray. Ethnographic interviews "field test" the claims of this chapter. The mentoring of the senior pastor of the largest church in our area makes prayer more practical and congregational. Perhaps most significant in this chapter, however, are the excerpts from a young couples' pain and prayer for the birth of their premature daughter.
Finally, chapter five concludes with not the least, priests. It invites church leaders to become not successes, but successors of those who have gone before them. Christologically, biblically, historically and autobiographically this chapter suggests that church leaders have already had their work cut out for them. They must, the chapter contends, preach and pray because it is what Jesus does, what the bible mandates, what his followers continue and what many ordained pastors have promised