Ministry, in my mind, requires a collaborative effort on the part of members, leadership, and ministerial staff. The church is at its best when members feel invested in and integral to the life of the church. A flourishing congregation is one where ministers nurture and appreciate the active participation of the congregants in the life of the church. Ministers provide guidance, expertise, education, and worship leadership that both fulfills their own callings and speaks to the evolving needs of the congregation and the world beyond. I understand my ministerial role as that of equipping people of faith with the tools they need to craft lives of service and reflection in the church and in the world.
The church is the body of Christ on earth, a living testimony to God’s redemptive work in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. The gospel holds within it the power to transform and call us to fresh ways to embody Christ’s presence in our own particular time and place. I believe in the power of the church as a community of diverse minds and hearts that come together around a desire to share life, explore faith, and minister together. Church should include both the inner movement towards spiritual formation and outward movement towards engaging the world in the model of Jesus. My understanding of Christian life and practice is that it is best lived out when individuals are part of a local church community where they can seek personal spiritual growth, participate in corporate worship and fellowship, and connect to the larger world through service.
I gravitate towards narrative theology, which seeks to understand how our individual and collective stories intersect with the story of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Scripture and the church year are two powerful conduits for this type of theology. The Bible is an epic drama that depicts the divine-human relationship in all its absurdity and transcendence. It invites us to reflect on the normative and formative values that define who we are as people and as communities of faith. The church year draws us into regular cycles of contemplation, remembrance, and celebration as we reenact the stories of Jesus and the church.
Through worship, study, spiritual practices, and community gatherings, the church year helps us to find meaning in the various seasons of our lives.
At its best, I believe the church should display a ‘safe place’ sign in relation to the local and global community. Many younger people have broken with the church because they have experienced judgment, rejection, and abuse from individual Christians and churches as institutions. The best thing we can do as Christians in this context is to live the gospel in its fullness – a gospel that does not condemn, but rather invites people into a relationship to God through Christ in concert with the Holy Spirit. We live out the gospel best when we engage others in loving ways that demonstrate our care for them, particularly for those who are hurting, who have limited financial means, and who have been burned by church.
Having grown up and served in a number of congregations where my relationships with church members of all ages were important to my spiritual development and vocational discernment, I deeply care about fostering opportunities for intergenerational education, social activities, and service projects. I believe that older generations have much to offer the younger generations in terms of sharing church history and personal experience, providing knowledge and wisdom, as well as helping them to develop a sense of belonging and purpose within the church. Younger members have much to teach the older generations in terms of embracing those who feel alienated from church life, moving towards a more authentic way of being real with one another, and bridging traditional sacred and secular boundaries.