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The tyranny of the urgent is a by product of our fast paced world It affects many people but when it impacts pastors they are often tempted to ignore the critical needs of the pastoral disciplines that ensure the effectiveness of ministry In Thinking Listening and Being Wesleyan Pastoral Disciplines Jeren Rowell offers theological reflections on what it means to live and work as a pastor He examines different aspects ofpastoral thinking practice and work and challenges pastors to continually pursue prayer the study of Scriptures and theological reflection Working in this way he writes could not only be a gift of love for the church but also an important model for parish pastors who are tempted to surrender first things to the urgencies and temptations of contemporary life

10 thoughts on “Thinking, Listening, Being

  1. says:

    Highly recommended book for any pastor especially those in the Church of the NazareneLet me start with some positives of which there are many This was a great overview of the pastoral calling and duties What it does really well is get to the heart of the matter what being a pastor should look like Since it's not a long book about 180 pgs it doesn't have time to waste on a lot of theory and philosophical musings or poetic style but gets right to the practical aspects That is both its advantage and its detriment It does have a beginning section which gives a theological framework for pastoring coming from a Wesleyan perspective I think this is greatly needed because it focuses on the core duties of the pastoral office prayer and preparationleading of worship The author Jeren Rowell a long time pastor and leader in the Nazarene church currently a District Superintendent rightly understands that this is the greatest responsibility of the pastor and if they fail to protect their time to this end all the business and church growth centered responsibilities of a pastor can not redeem what is lost These peripheral things have a place as well but they flow out of the other and are secondary I also appreciated how practically Rowell talks about the various duties of pastor preaching officiating worship leadership evangelism managing conflict These later chapters are natural progressions from what was laid down earlier For instance I was expecting the chapter on evangelism to be a reminder Oh by the way you also have to bring people to Christ by being out there talking about God to people or an emphasis on developing relationships for the purpose of conversion But evangelism in Rowell's understanding isn't just one focus a pastor has to have like juggling one ball in the air Instead it is very connected to what has already been established at the core of the worship experience of which the pastor is the central leader and developer It has much to do with shaping congregational identity as an authentic expression of the kingdom of God120 Worshiping correctly naturally functions evangelically The worshiping community of faith will draw people to God I liked the short chapters which cannot cover exhaustively each topic and yet have a lot of helpful ideas I felt like a veteran minister was sharing some of his best insights for ministry I read the book almost devotionally one chapter at a time so that I could reflect on each new arena prayerfully to ask myself how I was doing and where I needed to focus my attention to be a better minister In one area I struggled and disagreed somewhat with some of the content and that is as a bivocational minister Rowell even addressed this new development in pastoral ministry occasionally but I felt like he failed to really understand it as someone who has never experienced first hand this aspect of ministry himself The dedication was even to the great company of co vacational pastors although he recognizes elsewhere that this has not been my experience so I hesitate to offer any advice to you99 And yet in the chapter on humility he chides pastors who ask too early in the process of a pastoral call about the compensation package Cannot a spiritually attuned and humble pastor not ask up front what the ability of the church to pay that pastor may be and still take that into account in the discernment process? There are very few pastors out there making any real money at least in the church of the Nazarene and many of them struggle a great deal to meet even the basic needs of their family For the bivocational minister this is multiplied especially when their obligation to the church to pray and prepare for worship first is complicated by the lack of time they have for this when so many demanding things and often very practical concerns vie for their attention I resent the implication that the humble pastor should leave these things entirely to God's provision without thoughtful planning or that God hasn't given us a spirit AND mind to discern which way he is leading based on objective criteria such as whether we can financially afford to serve in a certain assignment I felt like Rowell was over spiritualizing this point Perhaps his role as a District Superintendent assisting churches in the calling of pastors has given him a different experience of pastors I see this issue in the continual ladder climbing of successful pastors to larger churches and the instability in general of some pastors changing horses whenever a better one comes along which Rowell discusses as well This is an appropriate concern and needs to be addressed But as a bivocational minister myself I have spent a great deal of time trying to find a healthy way to be a minister and make a living without living continually in debt paying off the very loans I felt reuired to take to pursue this calling in the first place I wish that I had used wisdom at the outset rather than just expecting that because God had called me he would provide I feel caught between these expectations that I should have to pay for my education reuired by the church and without any opportunity to negotiate that cost while the church will negotiate the wage of the pastor to the point that he or she has difficulty paying for the education that was prereuisite to their ordination I feel like the Nazarene church is failing to understand this situation in its obligations for ordination both acuiring and keeping it and with its expectations for pastors This felt evident in some of what I read here by a successful pastor who has likely never struggled so much to make ends meet There is a degree of dissonance in emphasizing that the size of a church should be unimportant while the expectation of centering your work first in prayer and study essentially reuires that a church be able to provide for you adeuately to have that opportunity It seems occasionally a little out of touch with my needs and concerns as a pastor today This was the lack that I sometimes felt in this book Even though I agreed strongly with the central points I'm left wondering a little how to accomplish the high goals and standards outlined here and even those in my own heart with the present situation in which I find the church I wish that there had been a little vision cast for the way aheadGenerally though I found this an enjoyable and helpful compendium that I will certainly keep around for future reference and revisit

  2. says:

    I really enjoyed this book I appreciated the thoughtful and compassionate thoughts on pastoral ministry I started reading this on the week of my ordination and it had a lot of encouraging reminders about the call of God and what it looks like in practice

  3. says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed the book While not an exhaustive list of everything I highlighted several things that stood out to me were1 The Excursus Biblical Cues for Pastoral Theology I have decided to keep a copy of it handy and meditate on a new point each week exploring what it might mean as I progress along this journey2 The idea that taking the time to pray and read scripture devotionally making sure to not let other responsibilities shove them aside was affirming3 I like the idea of naming the Pastor's Office Pastor's Study instead4 Defining active listening as being unhurried with another person was enlightening and I hope to remember to practice this5 I enjoyed his outlining the parts of gathering to worship and intend to refer to it if ever applicable6 I appreciated his guidance for how to handle a situation where someone wants to be rebaptized; as well as his guidance for what to say regarding one's authority in solemnizing a marriage As a mininster of the gospel in the church of Jesus Christ I do now pronounce you husband and wife7 This uote Ifmy life's work really has been 'prepared in advance' for me by God then my measure of success is no longer the achievement of my goals but the fulfillment of God's purposes for me8 The thought that the effectiveness of the service might depend on our taking the time to prepare the peoples' hearts by prayer was intriguing Reflecting back on the effectiveness of various pastors I've sat under and noting the ones that should have been effective and the ones that perhaps should not have been I have to think their prayerful preparation might have played into that somewhat9 I also made note of the authors and works both ancient and modern that Rowell recommends adding to my to read listOverall it emphasized for me the importance and seriousness of the call to ministry I believe this will be a book I refer to many times

  4. says:

    I have written a review which has been published in the following publication• book review Rowell Jeren Thinking Listening Being A Wesleyan Pastoral Theology Kansas City Mo Beacon Hill Press 2014 192 pages ISBN 9780834132467 The Asbury Journal vol 73 no 1 Spring 2018 213 215It may be accessed on the following website