In the May 6, 2008 issue of “The Christian Century,” Stephanie Paulsell wrote in the “Faith Matters” column regarding the perceived conflict between academics and practical efforts to educate clergy. I want to share her last paragraph. “Learned ministry is not just about the minister, though; it is about all of us. Our convictions about the formation of ministers have everything to do with our vision of Christian life itself. The minister who eagerly learns wherever she is, the minister who deems no knowledge irrelevant to her pastoral vocation is, I strongly believe, the minister we most need. For she reminds us, in living out her vocation, that our faith excludes nothing of what it is to be human, that there is no dimension of our lives that is irrelevant to our life with God.” (p. 57)
Stephanie A. Paulsell teaches at Harvard Divinity School and is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
What has this to do with our congregation? As we publish each week in the worship folder the participants in the service including “Ministers—All the people of the church,” we are all called to ministry and therefore all are called to seek greater knowledge. I want to offer some resources for deepening our knowledge and exposure to discussions of faith.
The first resource I want to recommend is a book and a radio program, both are called “Speaking of Faith.” Krista Tippett is the host of this NPR program. During the hour-long show she interviews a vast array of people from all areas of life and discusses faith aspects from the point of view of her guests careers or experiences. The program is locally broadcast on Sunday morning and evening. It can also be found on-line at speakingoffaith.org. From this web site you can listen to the program or down load it to a portable device (MP-3 or I-pod) or to your computer to listen to at your convenience. Her book by the same title talks about how she came to do this program and presents some of the broad areas discussed during her interviews. I have the book in my office and it is available to anyone to read. It is paperback and can be purchased at most bookstores.
One of the most profound lessons from her program is the variety. Her guests come from all religions, from professional clergy to scientist, from conservative to mainline, from young and old. We can all learn from her guests as they speak about faith and why it matters.
Other available resources are three magazines, “The Christian Century,” “Sojourners,” and “Disciple World.”
“The Christian Century” is among the oldest religious magazines still being published. This biweekly magazine’s slogan is “Thinking Critically, Living Faithfully.” It reports on the news of the day and the news of Christian churches in the world. It offers a view of the world that challenges Christians to see how others serve God and dares us to do likewise. You can check it out on-line at christiancentury.org.
“Sojourners” is published monthly and focuses on faith, politics and culture. Its founder, Jim Wallis, is an advocate for the poor and hungry in the world and the magazine reflects these priorities. The May issue’s theme was “Putting Your Money Where Your Heart Is.” They also have a web site, sojo.net. Sojourners comes from evangelical roots, and challenges us to live the life of loving others as we have been loved.
The last magazine, “Disciples World” is our denominational magazine. It was created after the ending of “The Disciple.” It had a shaky start but has started to recover the impact the old “Disciple” had. Each month the first several articles address the focus theme. Like good Disciples, it argues both sides of most issues, allowing everyone to reach their own conclusions. It also offers news and information about our church and what is happening. You can see some of it at disciplesworld.com.
Back issues of these three magazines are in my office. Please feel free to stop in and pick them up, scan them, take them home to read, and if they really make a good impact, you may always subscribe. As with all the books in my office, I will gladly loan them out for the congregation’s benefit.