the art of pastoring by david hansen is the first book that introduced me to the narrative shape of the pastoral life. in one of the many passages that i have read and re-read pastor hansen talks about a moment in his early ministry when he took a moment to reflect on his predecessor's books, which were left behind when the latter man resigned both his charge and the pastoral life.
since a large portion of the shelf was filled with church growth manuals, hansen wryly observes that christian covers of "how to win friends and influence people" were not enough to sustain this man's calling. the author then goes on to remind young pastors that only a serious, sustained reflections on scripture, rigorous engagement with theology and clearly defined christian practices can sustain a pastor throughout a journey on which, as uncle freddy reminds us, "we will witness many horrible things and many beautiful things too."
maybe i've just been hanging around too many budding theologians lately, but, after six years of relative indifference, i've felt a strong pull back to the rigorous reading of biblical and theological texts. although there are elements of my pastoral life that i will not be able to determine, i am going to try my damndest not to follow in the foosteps of pastor hansen's predecessor by drowning in a sea of pop theology and gimmicky ecclesiology.
in light of my lackluster resolve, i'm hesitant to even talk about this. but i think that a return to rigorous reading is as important for my community as it is for me and i will need the accountability of the young theologians who read this to hold my monkey ass feet to the fire.
to those who want to hold me accountable: since i don't really know where to start with this new initiative i am going to start with nt wright's new testament and the people of God. i have a flicker of interest in christian origins and that seems as good a place as any.