Tuesday 13 August 2019

Andrew Root on the Pastor in a Secular Age

On the heels of Andrew Root’s stimulating Faith Formation in a Secular Age: Responding to the Church’s Obsession with Youthfulness (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2017) – the first in a projected ‘Ministry in a Secular Age’ trilogy – comes The Pastor in a Secular Age: Ministry to People Who No Longer Need a God (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2019).

A recent post (here) on ‘Faith and Leadership’ summarises the burden of the most-recent title:

‘[T]hroughout time, from Augustine to Thomas Becket to Jonathan Edwards, pastors and priests have at least served against a cultural backdrop with the shared understanding that the transcendent is real and our lives must interact with something beyond what we can see and touch.

‘Today, things are different.

‘We now live in a time where the very idea that God is real and present in our lives is no longer accepted. Indeed, it’s widely contested. Belief has been made fragile – for the pastor as much as for those in the pews...

‘[W]e are now pastoring, and being church, in a full-blown secular age. From curator of divine things to prodder toward holiness to chaplain of the secular age to entrepreneur, the role of pastor has shifted dramatically as we’ve moved deeper and deeper into a secular age, and farther and farther away from a sense of God’s presence and action in our ordinary lives.

‘Though we might behave otherwise, what confronts the pastor inside a secular age in this new era is not primarily the question of how to sustain an institution, grow a budget, authentically reach the “nones” or double membership.

‘These pursuits lead only to increasing fatigue and despondency. Instead, the pastor’s most pressing calling and deepest question has become, How do we help those who no longer need a God encounter the living God in their lives?’

No comments: