Philosophy of Ministry – One

I am two courses short of the end of my seminary career, and I now more frequently receive requests for a “philosophy of ministry” from those with whom God may want me to minister. You know, “Just shoot me a resume, an MDS, and a philosophy of ministry.” The first two are straightforward-the last a different animal entirely. Thus far, I have spent my entire educational and professional life writing what, in one form or another, others want to hear. Whether it is an assigned paper or a legal memorandum, I am a mind and a pen for hire, within the bounds of morality and legality (two distinct lines, mind you). Now comes the moment I have always feared – writing that starts with questions like: “What about you?” “What do you think?” “What is most important to you?” Hmm.

On this matter of a “philosophy of ministry,” for a final product, I am giving myself six pages of double spaced body text with unlimited footnotes. Ultimately the footnotes will be for my reference, with the main body for others’ consumption. I think I will proceed in three steps. First, in the next week, I will sit down and do a stream of consciousness philosophy of ministry. Second, I will reconsider or consider some texts that were or ought to be/have been formative for my philosophy of ministry. (Frequent and varied reference to scripture is assumed.) Third, I will revise, or more accurately, tame my initial rough, off-the-cuff reflections with observations and nuances gleaned from consideration of these texts.

Tonight, I unscientifically perused my bookshelves for works which have been, should have been, or may proved to be important inputs for the philosophical outlines of my approach to ministry. Here is a list of the books that came off the shelf, in no particular order:

Nouwen, Henri J. M. In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership. New York: Crossroads, 1993.

Clowney, Edmund P. Called to the Ministry. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Co., 1964.

Ladd, George Eldon. The Pattern of New Testament Truth. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1968.

Keyes, Dick. Beyond Identity: Finding your Way in the Image and Character of God. Carlisle, Cumbria, UK: Paternoster Press, 1998.

Lovelace, Richard F. Dynamics of Spiritual Life: an Evangelical Theology of Renewal. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1979.

Scazzero, Peter. The Emotionally Healthy Church. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003.

Carson, D. A. Christ & Culture Revisited. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2008.

MacNair, Donald J. The Challenge of Eldership: a Handbook for the Elders of the Church. Suwanee, GA: Great Commission Publications, 1999.

Keller, Timothy J. Ministries of Mercy: The Call of the Jericho Road. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing Company, 1997.

Lupton, Robert D. Compassion, Justice and the Christian Life: Rethinking Ministry to the Poor. Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 2007.

Hays, J. Daniel. From every People and Nation: A biblical theology of race. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003.

Pohl, Christine, D. Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1999.

Herrington, Jim, R. Robert Creech, and Trisha Taylor. The Leader’s Journey: Accepting the Call to Personal and Congregational Transformation. San Fransisco, CA: Josey-Bass, 2003.

Dawn, Marva J. Powers, Weakness, and the Tabernacling of God. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2001.

Volf, Miroslav. Exclusion & Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1996.

O’Donovan, Oliver. Resurrection and Moral Order: An Outline for Evangelical Ethics, 2d ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1994.

Lucas, Sean Michael. On Being Presbyterian: Our Beliefs, Practices, and Stories. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing Company, 2006.

Volf, Miroslav. After Our Likeness: The Church as the Image of the Trinity. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1998.

Peterson, Eugene H. Under the Unpredictible Plant: An Exploration in Vocational Holiness. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1992.

Of course, some of these will merit more reference than others. (When did the use of subtitles become nearly obligatory? Most of these titles need a colonectomy, to be distinguished from a colectomy.)

Although I do not intend an in-depth review of each of these sources here, I hope to post notes and observations as I go through. I am open to suggestions for further study from either of my readers. Heh.

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