Soul Shaper: Becoming the Person God Wants You to Be. It is a synthesis of two previous works he did: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People and With Unveiled Faces.
The Seminary in a Nutshell series so far:
Chapter 1: The Calling of a Minister
Chapter 2: The Person of a Minister
Ministers have different personalities and strengths
We each experience God best in different ways.
There are certain classic spiritual disciplines for individuals.
Today: There are spiritual disciplines we do in community.
1. In the West we have come to focus on the kinds of spiritual disciplines that we do as individuals. But the biblical world was not a world of individuals. Indeed, in most times and places, human beings have thought of themselves in terms of groups rather than as lone individualists.
What are the kinds of activities that we believers do in community to help form us?
2. Worship and fellowship rank high on the list. We worship together and God forms us. Fellowship is also part of God's plan for the church, and while we may not always sense that God is changing us when we fellowship, he is. He is making us more loving toward each other. He is helping us learn to endure conflict and become better in the process.
In worship of course is regular communion. The Lord's Supper is a reminder of the grace of God toward us and a chance for us to renew our relationship with him publicly. The Lord's Supper was meant to emphasize the oneness of the body of Christ. "Though we are many, we are one body, because we all partake of the one bread" (1 Cor. 10:17).
Baptism is also a corporately formative discipline. Although we have a tendency to lean toward its individual dimensions, baptism is also a heavily corporate event. The community of faith makes a covenant with the individual or child to bathe them in prayer, to surround them with a communion of faith that will help protect them from temptation and sin.
Confession also is often a regular part of public worship. It very much relates to an important function that the body of Christ can play in our spiritual walk, namely, accountability. Our brothers and sisters in Christ help keep us from falling into temptation. They can also play a positive role of encouragement and mutual edification.
3. Finally, we should not underestimate the spiritual good it does us to participate in the mission of the Church and in service to others. These are tasks that we might naturally think are for others and not ourselves, but we do as much or more good to our own walk with Christ as we do for others. The mission after all is God's and we serve because God loves others. We participate in God's mission, and we benefit from it ourselves.
4. Ministers, like all Christian individuals need to participate in these disciplines of Christian community. The pastor is not exempt or in some way apart from the worship, fellowship, means of grace, confession, accountability, mission, or service of the community of faith.
Sometimes it can be more difficult for ministers to participate in some of these disciplines. When you are responsible for the worship service, it can be more difficult to relax and experience worship. Being in the role of the leader can make fellowship awkward or more difficult with individuals in the church. The same goes for accountability.
So ministers need to get away and worship somewhere else occasionally. Every once and a while, they should experience another community of faith. Denominations can create systems where there are pastors for pastors. A pastor should be part of an accountability group that, more likely than not, is made up of individuals from outside the church at which they minister.
The pastor and his/her family also need friends and fellowship. Sometimes the pastoral situation can be isolating within a congregation. This is then another area in which denominations can facilitate fellowship among pastors in an area.
5. There are spiritual disciplines that we do in community, and pastors are not exempt from the need and benefit.
Next Week: Seminary Pastor as Minister 6: Some spiritual reading