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576.152.https%3A%2F%2Felc.netadventist.org%2Flocal%2Feditor%2FIMG_0828-1 I like reading blogs.  I like reading my friends’ status’ on Facebook.  It gives me a sense of connectedness even if just through the computer screen. In our world, friendship has taken on different forms.  The internet makes is so easy to become friends with people we might never be in the same room with.  I am, specifically thinking about the friends I have made through reading their blogs, and Facebook.
I have found that vital to my success and productivity as a
Pastor (grassroot theologian – as contrasted to a theologian in the halls of ivy?)
Tribe leader (my churches are my tribe(s), see also Seth Godin’s Tribes (thanks Jeff G.),
hopeful Innovater (Pastor’s must learn to re-invent, re-capture, re-present what has been true for thousands of years and yet is brand new to a new generation of Christians and non-Christians)
Futurist (Pastors must be futurist,  attempt to observe current trends and what is just beyond the horizon).  Someone should write about these and the many other facets of a Pastor’s life.

I have been Pastoring now for just over two years and I have learned that:  90% of what I have encountered as a Pastor, I have had to learn on the Job.  Which means that I was only really equipped to handle 10%, that 10% was that I had to preach every Saturday, hold board meeting once a month and things of that nature.  For the remaining 90% I have turned to mentors, friends, blogs and Facebook to learn from those who trekked this course before me.  If you are reading this and tempted to think, “Man, anyone can become a pastor” that’s not necessarily the case.  I have the ‘qualifications’ if any exist to be a pastor.  I have an undergraduate degree in Religious Studies/ Pre-Seminary and a Master’s of Divinty (which is a two and half year degree) and I worked as a Youth Pastor for two years under the direction of a Senior Pastor who served and continues to serve as an excellent mentor.  The reality is that in our always changing world the skill-set I learned in seven years in institutions of higher education have become useless which is why I say I was only really prepared to effectively handle 10% of my job responsibilities (for a more in depth understanding of this constantly changing world and the skills needed to lead well in this context look at Leonard Sweet’s Soul Tsunami, Alan Roxburgh’s The Sky is Falling and The Missional Leader and Erwin McManus’ An Unstoppable Force– if you have other titles send them my way).

All of this to say, that blogs and Facebook and other websites have provided a wealth of information.  Specifically, BOOKS.  I know everything can’t be learned from books but they sure help.  Books help us understand in specific ways the world we are experiencing on a daily basis.  The reality is that some people are good with putting words to a concept and that helps.  So here is a list of books that I just purchased thanks in large part to my online community of friends and the books they were reading.

1. What Would Jesus Deconstruct?  The Good News of Postmodernism for the Church by John D. Caputo
2. GloboChrist:  The Great Comission Takes a Postmodern Turn by Carl Raschke
3.  Finding Our Way Again:  The Return of the Ancient Practices by Brian McLaren
4.  In Constant Prayer by Robert Benson
5.  Evil and the Justice of God by N.T. Wright
6. The Great Emergence:  How Christianity Is Changing and Why by Phyllis Tickle

The only problem is finding the time to finish reading all of these books.  I think I still have a few books that I haven’t finished.  Am I the only with this problem?

Finally and perhaps more importantly, as great as reading is there is one things that books cannot do.  They cannot act, they cannot move foward in faith, they cannot risk.. that is our job.  For me the best advice I have been given is “stop reading” with the connotation to start doing something (Thanks Samir).  Ironic I know, but true.

Ceinterview2 I am not easily impressed by many churches.  It is not because I have the most innovative, more creative, biggest, best (the adjectives can go on) church.  I am the first to admit that my churches have their own struggles and deficiencies and that’s ok because we work hard to be the church that is needed in this time and place.  If you are a pastor you will know that, that is no an easy task.  I read somewhere that the turnover rate for pastor’s is extremely high and the average pastor stays at the same church for no more than 5 years.   I believe that.

I have found that in our current context (21st century, Postmodern) it is not easy being a pastor.  I, like many of my pastor friends struggle to put into words what has already been true for thousands of years in a way that a 21st century mind can understand.  I am not always successful, but I keep trying.  So when ever I come across someone that does it well it impresses me.  I was introduced to the ministry of Erwin McManus several years ago at a time when I was at the tail end of my formal education in the seminary.  I was becoming disillusioned with the church I had been a part of my entire life and being exposed to Mosaic gave me hope.  Hope that there are churches who take seriously the message of Jesus and are effective at communicating it.  A few weeks a I came across a fairly recent interview with Erwin McManus and it gives insight into why he has been so effective as a communicator.  Here is the beginning of the interview/article.  At the bottom of this post is the link to the rest of it.

Erwin McManus calls himself a cultural architect. His college major was philosophy, and he spent most of his early, secular career as a futurist working with companies and organizations — and still does as he pastors Mosaic Church in East Los Angeles. The title of cultural architect came about when he and his team were on a boat in Big Bear Lake. He told them he was writing his first book and needed a metaphor that describes in a fresh and accurate way what he actually does as a senior pastor. One of the guys said he was an architect.

“There are two sides to my job,” McManus says. “One is the engineering side; I have to find the way through the structures, systems and processes that help people get what they need.  [To read the rest of the interview click HERE]

Have you ever been the last person to discover something really important?  I have.  I spent nine years (nearly my entire adult life) in institutions of higher learning(La Sierra Univ./Andrews Univ.) completing the requirements for the degrees to prepare me for the Pastorate.  Today, nine years later I have come across a book that I should have been required to read in 1999 as I began my academic journey. 

The book, Soul Tsunami by Leonard Sweet.  This book is amazing!  In it, Sweet explores the rapidly changing world of the 21st century and the qualities needed of a churches that will succeed in effectively communcating the message of Jesus in our time.  Nothing new you say?   That’s the point.  I have read some excellent books that deal with the same subject matter, i.e. the postmodern mindset, missional Churches, missional leadership, spirituality in the postmodern context, etc. books like The Sky is Falling by Alan Roxburgh, The Forgotten Ways by Alan Hirsh, A New Kind of Christian by Brian McLaren , An Unstoppable Force by Erwin McManus (all of which I highly recommend) all of these books deal with our current social context through the lens of the church but I just read these books within the last year.  Soul Tsunami was published in 1999.  That was my first year in university.  Had I read Soul Tsunami in 1999 it would have caused me see the world more clearly.  It woud have greatly influenced the way I saw ministry and Christianity. 

Most of what I have read so far in Soul Tsunami I have expereinced, learned about, and observed simply by being alive.  But I still highly recommend this book for anyone that is a pastor, contemplating becoming a pastor, or a Christian that find his/her brand of Christianity as irrelevant, misguided, out of touch or reminiscent of a part era.    I plan on blogging more about his book in the future.  There is so much information in this book that can be helpful.  Stay tuned.