Donald Capps very helpfully outlines models and schemata for effective pastoral action, that I think are very helpful for getting pastor’s to think about the what and why of what they do in a community over which they exercise pastoral oversight. This post is the first of three that will develop this scheme to show how pastoral care is multi-layered and complex, requiring self-understanding, and avoiding the over-simplification of a one-dimensional approach that can be seen in self-promoting and self-serving distortions of ministry.
In Pastoral Care and Hermeneutics (a book I discovered by reading Anthony Thiselton’s A Lifetime in the Church and University), Capps first provides six Diagnostic Types for pastoral care approaches (pg. 61-65), using the content analysis of published sermons in six well known preachers, showing that each preacher had a characteristic approach that was common to most if not all the their published sermons:
“The first service one owes to others in the community involves listening to them. Just as our love for God begins with listening to God’s Word, the beginning of love for other Christians is learning to listen to them. God’s love for us is shown by the fact that God not only gives us God’s Word, but also lends us God’s ear. We do God’s work for our brothers and sisters when we learn to listen to them. So often Christians, especially preachers, think that their only service is always to have to “offer” something when they are together with other people. They forget that listening can be a greater service than speaking. Many people seek a sympathetic ear and do not find it among Christians, because these Christians are talking even when they should be listening. But Christians who can no longer listen to one another will soon no longer be listening to God either’ they will always be talking even in the presence of God. The death of the spiritual life starts here, and in the end there is nothing left but empty spiritual chatter and clerical condescension which chokes on pious words. Those who cannot listen long and patiently will always be talking past others, and finally no longer will even notice it. Those who think their time is too precious to spend listening will never really have time for God and others, but only for themselves and for their own words and plans.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together
By Rev. Dr. Jason Goroncy, Senior Lecturer in Systematic Theology at Whitley College, University of Divinity.
I am conducting a self-experiment. I am going to “boldly go” where a small but increasing number of people are going: to take a break from a “thing” that makes this life both connected and detached; I’m attempting to outsmart my smartphone.
One of my favourite singers, Paulo Nutini, in his great song Coming Up Easy has these words which, although he is talking about the love of his lady (or drugs, according to some), they nevertheless capture my dilemma with the smartphone phenomenon:
“I’m afraid it looks like we’re
Gonna have to go our separate ways.
You see the thing is I love you, I love you
But you see I resent you all the time.”
The Peace of Wild Things
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
– Wendell Berry
What a treat it was for me.
Last week, Michael Card performed a concert in Paignton, on his only stop in the South West. Michael is for me, as I know he is for so many others, a shaper and discipler in the Christian faith.
A Communion Liturgy
The Communion Table is a drama.
Jesus tells us that he was broken for us and died for us.
The bread, like his body, is broken.
The wine, like his blood, is poured out.
Jesus has said a great Divine ‘YES’ to everyone, everywhere.
And when we eat this bread, and drink this wine, we say ‘YES’ to Jesus.