The call to ministry in and on behalf of the Church of Jesus Christ is one of the greatest privileges and responsibilities a person could ever imagine.

No one earns or deserves that privilege. It is offered as a gift of grace, and often brings with it a sense of “oughtness” that is compelling. 

But a call to ministry is, by its very nature, a call to prepare oneself for the fulfillment of the call. No one should feel themselves adequate, prepared, and equipped simply for having heard the call. Rather, there will be a deep sense of responsibility to cultivate a growing relationship with Christ through the Spirit, an intense study of the Word of God, and the careful discipline of learning to read, think, write, and speak in ways that represent the Risen Christ. 

 

Those characteristics do not come naturally to most of us. They require careful instruction, intentional relationships with mentors and guides, and development of a deep appreciation for learning as a way of life. Developing the skills and practices that enable a fruitful ministry takes time, discipline, experience, and counsel.

Perhaps the most foundational characteristic of fruitful ministry is to have “the mind of Christ” (Philippians 2:5). Whatever else may characterize us, unless we learn to live and lead with the mind of Christ, our efforts to fulfill our ministry and the mission of God will fall short.

The purpose of the Center for Pastoral Leadership is to provide resources for students of NTS, and pastors and leaders in the churches and ministries of the Church. We want to assist them to further develop their skills and abilities as pastors, chaplains, missionaries, evangelists, teachers and professors, administrators, and compassionate ministry leaders.  We want to serve the laity of the Church as well, offering resources and learning opportunities that will enhance the work of everyone who serves Christ and His Church.

It comes as no surprise to anyone that the ground beneath our feet is shifting. The culture is in a state of flux, whether you serve in an urban setting, the suburbs, a rural area, or a small town. Social and economic issues, immigration reform, and a rancorous political environment dominate the culture. Events like the recent tragedy at the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, remind us that destructive tension boils just beneath the surface of the culture across our world, and threaten to destabilize nations and societies. Social media, entertainment venues, sports events, school activities, and family demands crowd the schedules and fight for the attention of the people of our churches, as well as our own families. Once commonly held values are no longer “commonly held.” Many churches seem ready to build walls of protection to attempt to shield themselves from the culture around them, but in doing so they lose all hope of being of any redemptive influence in their communities.

It is a challenging environment for the launch of the Center for Pastoral Leadership, but we believe it is also a time when the message of heart transformation and life change through Christ is most desperately needed.  Ministers and laity need every resource available to nurture their call to ministry and service, and to provide inspiration, guidance, and community to give voice and meaning to that ministry. We hope to be one of those resources to which every pastor and leader can turn for helpful, refreshing, and up to date resources for ministry.

We will not be the only resource available to you, but we hope to be one to which you can turn for excellent and contemporary resources to enhance the work of your ministry. Let’s work together to resource one another, to engage the culture with hope and passion, and to lead with the mind of Christ.

 

Jesse C Middendorf

Philippians 2:1-11