Being a Pastor in a Secular Age

By Marc Potvin, Pastoral Leaders Development Associate, CBOQ

When my children were in grade nine, one day out of the school year, they were given the chance to go to work with their parents. One of my children thought I had it good. “All you do is drink coffee, eat food, and talk to old people!”

He knew though, as I did, that there was more to it than that – at least I hope he did. One of the important tasks of a pastor is to keep abreast of the changes that happen in the world through reading, watching, and conversing.

The Church Life and Leadership team offered an opportunity to do that weekly in May through a Book Club. Pastors were encouraged to read Andrew Root’s second volume in the series Ministry in a Secular Age, entitled, The Pastor in a Secular Age, based on the monumental work of Canadian Philosopher Charles Taylor. Next, Pastors would discuss in small groups their thoughts on it and share their experiences and ideas about how best to be a pastor in our secular age. This is in preparation for the Re-Ignite virtual conference in September with the author of the book.

Pastors recognized themselves in the book, experiencing the malaise of ministering in a changing world that has, by and large, no need of God. They feel the disconnect between what they know they are called to do and what the world, and even the church is wanting them to do.

Pastors spoke of how the world moved from being centred on God to the individual self, how sin has become explained by psychology, medicine, and other sciences; how God’s word is being replaced by “How to”; how the pastor now has become a counselor, a celebrity, and required to speak to the individual needs as opposed to the corporate needs.

All these put tremendous pressures on pastors. In the last week of the Book Club, the proposal put forth by Andrew Root was discussed and found comforting. Pastors are still called to pray and have a ministry of presence.

Re-Ignite will provide another forum to further discuss how, as pastors, ministry can be made powerful and fruitful, more than just drinking coffee, eating food, and talking to old people!

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