As more of us continue our journey into Christ-centered 3-C contemplative activism, the more there will be a need for Stepping Stone Six: vibrant churches across North America that will reflect the values of those beliefs we hold dear. These churches will not only accommodate the ancient traditions of spiritual formation but will have at their very core, all the elements of such. And we believe that you, dear reader, are very likely called to be an important part of this work of God in the years ahead.
In case you haven’t noticed, the times…they are a-changing. It’s not business as usual when it comes to doing church in America. Our culture is rapidly evolving and so are people’s attitudes toward religion, toward church-going, and yes, even toward God.
Yet, through it all, our sense is that Jesus of Nazareth isn’t worried about His Church. He’s not up in heaven, wringing His hands, wondering if His people can survive these changing times in which we live. You see, if we look carefully at church history, there have been numerous times when the Church has needed reformation.
Today is such a time.
Take it from a couple of pastors of thirty-plus years.
Marty & Sandy Boller, “Recovering” 3-B Pastors.
We have spent most of our thirty-plus years pastoring from the playbook given to us by twentieth-century church leaders who built their ministries using a formula for success we call the 3-B’s. You see, for decades, we lived and died as pastors measuring our success (or failure) in ministry using three key components of successful church growth: (B)uilding size, (B)ucks in the offering, and the number of (B)utts in the seats.
But now, like many other pastors across the fruited plain of North America, those components are no longer cutting it. Church attendance is declining. More and more church-goers are stepping away from Sunday morning church services, aligning themselves with what some say are “the none’s or the done’s.” Churches are struggling to make it, while more and more pastors are leaving their call to ministry, no longer willing, or able, to successfully lead a church in such turbulent times.
Over the last decade, we’ve come to the conclusion that it’s time for a reformation in the way we do pastoral ministry and the way we do church. It’s time for a change. A radical change. A change that puts the focus no longer on (B)uildings, (B)ucks, and (B)utts in the seats, but on true Christ-centered discipleship. Christ-centered discipleship that’s found within the pages of the New Testament. Christ-centered discipleship that’s found in the corners of church history. Christ-centered discipleship that we call 3-C Contemplative Activism!
For us, the one pastor in North America who, first and foremost, called for this reformation in discipleship, this reformation in the way we do pastoral ministry, was Eugene Peterson.
In his book, The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction, written in 1989, Eugene Peterson says it best…
A reformation may be in process in the way pastors do their work. It may turn out to be as significant as the theological reformation of the sixteenth century. I hope so. The signs are accumulating.
The vocational reformation of our own time (if it turns out to be that) is a rediscovery of the pastoral work of the cure of souls. The phrase sounds antique. It is antique. But it is not obsolete. It catches up and coordinates, better than any other expression I am aware of, the unending warfare against sin and sorrow and the diligent cultivation of grace and faith to which the best pastors have consecrated themselves in every generation.
The soul is the essence of the human personality. The cure of souls, then, is the Scripture-directed, prayer-shaped care that is devoted to persons singly or in groups, in settings sacred and profane. It is a determination to work at the center, to concentrate on the essential. (It’s) a cultivated awareness that God has already seized the initiative, (and) has been working diligently, redemptively, and strategically before I appeared on the scene, before I was aware there was something here for me to do.
Here at The Contemplative Activist, we believe one of our core ministry assignments is to train, equip, empower, encourage, and network Christ-followers who feel the call to become what Eugene Peterson called, contemplative pastors. Men and women, Christ-centered 3-C contemplative activists, who serve the Master and His church through the simple, yet ancient, pastoral work of caring for souls.
Today, a good deal of our blog writings are focused on church leaders, encouraging them to think outside the 3-B box, moving away from traditional Americanized church methods that focus on (B)uilding size, (B)ucks in the offering, and the number of (B)utts in the seats. We invite you to peruse some of our blog series found in our As I See It archives. Below are just a few series that might stir you to some pro-active pastoral work for the cause of Christ…
My Tale of 3-B’s. Here’s a brief introduction to what we believe is Jesus’ invitation to step out of the traffic of our busy lives and begin a trek to becoming Christ-centered 3-C contemplative activists. This short 6-blog series (taken from Our Ignatian Prayer Journey) tells our personal story of how we were first invited by the Master to this simple and sustainable life we call the 3-C’s.
Contemplating Eugene Peterson’s The Contemplative Pastor. This blog series (first published back in 2011) covering Eugene Peterson’s classic, The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction, written in 1989, allows us to process truths about the pastoral ministry you might never have considered. Over 37 blog entries, join us as I share my thoughts on some of those new revelations.
Kalós: Guarding the Precious Treasure. Are you ready for a kalós reformation in your life, a quiet fire of God-renewal? Paul in his two letters to Timothy, states clearly for his spiritual son to ‘guard this precious thing placed in your custody by the Holy Spirit who works in us.” (2nd Timothy 1: 13-14). In this 26-session blog series, we explore in depth, Paul’s words to Timothy…re-examining, and hopefully restoring, kalós, this precious treasure of ministry deposited into us by the work of the Holy Spirit. Join us!
To Lead Or Not To Lead? Redefining the Role of a Christian Worker. Glenn Wagner, states in his excellent book, Escape from Church Inc., that the church has, unfortunately, taken most of our cues on ‘leadership’ from the corporate world of America. As I see it, the question in the church today should not be, ‘Do we need leadership?’ but rather, ‘What kind of leaders is God asking men and women to be? Join us for this 12-session blog series that explores the biblical answers to this question.
Follow the Leader: Re-defining Successful Leadership from the Gospel of John. Return with me to the ancient words of the New Testament. Our goal here will not be to do a line-by-line devotional study, but to offer you a series of 46 blogs where we focus on the original disciples, the future overseers of the church, as they interacted with the Master, Jesus of Nazareth. If we’re looking for ways to move away from the 21st century corporate approach to church life, the Gospels would be the best place to begin and end such a pursuit. Join us!
The Wisdom of Wimber. A collection of 64 musings on some of Pastor John Wimber’s richest quotes under each of these ten vital themes: On Christ and His Word, On Worship, On Gifts of the Spirit, On Community, On Compassion, On Healing, On Mission, On Unity, On Evangelism, On Discipleship. It’s this highly-popular series that birthed my book, The Wisdom of Wimber, As I See It.
In the months and years ahead, we also plan to offer workshops, retreats, and other training events that will benefit those pastors and church leaders who are burned-out, ready for some serious change in the way they do ministry for Jesus. We suggest you bookmark this page, or visit our TSCTW website, in order to stay up to date with all we have planned.
Finally, we hope to hear from you. We want to hear your story and know how we might better serve you in your journey toward Christ-centered 3-C Contemplative Activism.
May the Good Lord Bless and Keep You…
Marty & Sandy Boller…“Recovering” 3-B Pastors on our way to becoming Christ-centered 3-C Contemplative Activists. Click here to visit our website for small church pastors (TSCTW).