Musings from Seminary Life 

January 22, 2019

I’m just back from a week at seminary in Indianapolis studying transformative leadership. These three books were required reading for the class:

  • God Has a Dream: A Vision of Hope for Our Time, by Desmond Tutu;
  • Salsa, Soul, and Spirit: Leadership for a Multicultural Age, by Juana Bordas; and
  • Interfaith Leadership: A Primer by Iboo Patel.

All three were thought-provoking, and especially Salsa, Soul, and Spirit. In the preface, Bordas writes that the central purpose of her book “is to put forward a leadership model, based on the principles and practices of communities of color, that will move us toward a more pluralistic and equitable society. Authentic diversity will be realized only when the voices, values, and contributions of all Americans are integrated into mainstream leadership.” The book details many specific leadership examples from African American, Native American and Latinx cultures and helped me see beyond the dominant culture’s proscribed way of understanding leadership and valuing leaders. There are many important lessons here for churches in general and Plymouth in particular.

My professor started the week with the assertion that communities of faith are critically important to society at large and that our communities are diminished when faith communities become so weak they can only focus on their own survival.

As churches’ attendance and financial resources decline, we tend to focus on how to get more members and more money. These are the wrong questions. We need to focus on why we exist. If we are clear about the WHY, the what and how will follow.

It is an exciting time in ministry. Innovation is necessary, and we cannot be risk averse. Ministry done well will involve failure and it is good to fail well and quickly. What is more antithetical to the Gospel than failure is caution. Ministry that is risk averse is not ministry that will make much difference in the world. God needs us to be bold in these changing times.

Ironically, churches that profess a belief in resurrection generally don’t think we need to let go of anything. Churches most often just keep adding layers and layers of programs, instead of letting go so something new can be reborn.

God relentlessly calls us to join in the making of a new world. We have work to do. Let’s get to it! – Jennifer Castle, Director of Faith Formation


Topics: Church Life



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