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Monday
Jan142013

NTS: Because Ministry is Complex and Diverse

Dr. Fred Fullerton (‘85) l NTS Alumni Association Vice President
Vice President for Spiritual and Leadership Development, Northwest Nazarene University

So what is on your electronic reading device these days?  Here is a sampling of the titles I have currently, in large part due to recommendations from friends in ministry:

  • The Shaping of Things to Come: Innovation and Mission for the 21st-Century Church, by Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch
  • Relational Leadership: A Biblical Model for Influence and Service, by Walter C. Wright
  • The Pastor: A Memoir, by Eugene H. Peterson
  • And God Spoke to Abraham: Preaching from the Old Testament, by Fleming Rutledge
  • Not Your Mother’s Morals: How the New Sincerity is Changing Pop Culture for the Better, by Jonathan D. Fitzgerald
  • The Invisible: What the Church Can Do to Find and Serve the Least of These, by Arloa Sutter
  • The Virtue of Dialogue: Conversation as a Hopeful Practice of Church Communities, by Christopher C. Smith
  • Follow You, Follow Me: Why Social Networking is Essential to Ministry, by John Voelz III

This list reflects, in part, the great complexity and diversity of topics around 21st century life and ministry; including, for example, the need to “exegete” a community and to find where God is working, and to ask one’s congregation to respond to the question, “What has God called us to be and do in our current cultural context”  (The Shaping of Things to Come, Frost and Hirsch). This list also includes works focused on pastoral leadership, preaching, pastoral care, congregational engagement, social networking and social justice. 

My graduate theological training at NTS prepared me to not fear complexity and diversity, but rather to embrace it and see it as an expression of the rich creativity of our God and the lengths to which our God will go to transform us and those we are called to serve.

I grew up Protestant and Nazarene amidst a significant Catholic population in my hometown in the Midwest.  In my last pastoral assignment, I developed a friendship with a Catholic priest who served a parish located a few blocks from the church where I served.  He and I were part of the local ministerial association that met monthly for prayer. When Pope John Paul II died, I felt led to take a floral arrangement as an expression of sympathy to his parish from my congregation.  I later learned that the priest had placed the arrangement on their communion table and noted the contribution in their Sunday worship folder. There had been tensions in the community in the past between our two churches; and I was familiar with tensions like this from my years growing up back home.  My NTS training, and God’s grace, had prepared me to be an agent of reconciliation and healing, through a simple act of compassion. As a result, the relationship between our traditions and our churches improved. Complexity and diversity exhibits itself in these types of practical issues wherever one serves.

The call of God upon my life has led to a variety of ministry assignments over the past 28 years.  My NTS education and training provided a genuine foundation for service through academic rigor, and models of Christian servanthood in the faculty and staff.  It also challenged me to be a life-long learner.  I give God thanks for those who invested in me during my seminary years, and I give God thanks for our current NTS leadership in President David Busic and those that serve with him in continuing to prepare and educate servant-leaders / shepherds of God’s flock.

Allow me to close this blog with an invitation (you knew it was coming, right?):  I invite you to join me in being a charter member of the new NTS CLUB 300.  In these complex and diverse times, partnerships are essential, especially in light of the financial challenges we all face in ministry.  Your monthly donation of $25 per month will not only support the Seminary in its mission, but you’ll benefit from participation in a learning community. Webinars, audio conference calls and a “Best Practices” document to be published annually and distributed free to members, are some of the benefits you will receive for your financial contribution.

Visit the NTS website to make your pledge and join TODAY (annual contribution of $300 or just $25/month).

God bless you!

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