A reformation may be in process in the way pastors do their work. It may turn out to be as significant as the theological reformation of the sixteenth century. I hope so. The signs are accumulating. The vocational reformation of our own time (if it turns out to be that) is a rediscovery of the pastoral work of the cure of souls. The phrase sounds antique. It is antique. But it is not obsolete. It catches up and coordinates, better than any other expression I am aware of, the unending warfare against sin and sorrow and the diligent cultivation of grace and faith to which the best pastors have consecrated themselves in every generation. Discovering the meaning of Scripture, developing a life of prayer, guiding growth into maturity. This is the pastoral work that is historically termed the cure of souls. The primary sense of “cura” in Latin is “care,” with undertones of “cure.” The soul is the essence of the human personality. The cure of souls, then, is the Scripture-directed, prayer-shaped care that is devoted to persons singly or in groups, in settings sacred and profane. It is a determination to work at the center, to concentrate on the essential. Eugene Peterson, The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction (1989).
Do you want to join the pastoral reformation?
In our humble opinion, it’s time for pastors and church leaders to step away from what Eugene Peterson, author of The Message Bible, calls “the Americanized church”, where we measure success (or failure) using what we call the 3-B’s: (B)uildings, (B)ucks, and (B)utts in the seats. Our goal here at The Contemplative Activist is to become a gathering place for pastors and key leaders who are stepping away from the 3-B traffic and are listening carefully right now to the Master as He helps all of us redefine “success” in pastoral ministry. As Peterson states here, we believe this radical return to “the care (and cure) of souls” will be nothing short of a reformation in the Church of Jesus Christ across North America.
Our first resource suggestion is to become a follower of The Contemplative Activist. We publish blogs here on a regular basis and our readers tell us that our posts are very edifying to both them and to others they share them with. Just click on “Follow Blog Via Email” on our Home page). It’s free! Also, if you are a user of Facebook, click here to join The Contemplative Activist group page.
Secondly, we suggest you start to slow down your own life, taking extra time for your own personal spiritual formation. The care of your soul is vitally important to Jesus, to you, your family, and the ministry you serve. We have many tools to help you begin your journey. Click here for a list of resources that might help you better care for your soul.
Thirdly, you might prayerfully consider working with a Christ-centered spiritual director whose primary job is to simply come alongside you, becoming a spiritual companion in the care of your own soul. Click here for more details on receiving spiritual direction.
Fourthly, consider bringing us into your community for a seminar or workshop focusing in the themes of Christ-centered contemplative activism: Click here for more details on our popular Quiet Workshop.
Finally, we also offer you and your church leadership team training in Christ-centered spiritual direction. In our 2015-2016 training year, four senior pastors here in the Heartland of the USA have decided that they want their churches to be empowered by some leaders who are well-trained in the ancient art of spiritual direction. In all four cases, the senior pastor hand-selected a team of leaders to take our training together…and listen to this! The senior pastors are actually taking the course as well! Pastors, we encourage you to catch the vision. What might your church’s ministry look like if you had a group of lay leaders who were operating in the fine art of spiritual direction? Just think what that might do in helping to expand the ministry of the Kingdom of God throughout your community! Click here for more details on training in spiritual direction.
Here’s some kind words from pastors across the Heartland who’ve worked with us...
I’ve been working with a spiritual director for more than a year and I can’t begin to express the positive impact it’s had on every area of my life. My awareness of God’s presence, my ability to rest in his unchanging love and my determination to do everything I do for his eyes only has grown exponentially! Simply learning to celebrate my soul’s TRUE identity as one forgiven, chosen, adopted, containing, belonging and beloved, has made all the difference. My personal experience made working with Sustainable Faith to train spiritual directors in our church a no-brainer. Marty and Sandy Boller have done a wonderful job and we couldn’t be more excited to continue the relationship. Pastor Mark Warner, Vineyard Church of Overland Park, KS.
Working with a spiritual director has been very helpful, rewarding and challenging. I feel like I’ve gained a whole new perspective in my relationship with God and also with how I view myself and my role in life. The spiritual direction cohort led by Sandy and Marty Boller exceeded my expectations. I appreciated their thoughtful and insightful leadership. They’re a great team, leading with humor and compassion. I highly recommend them, as well as the Year One cohort. Can’t wait to start Year Two! Pastor Lisa Mulcahy, Vineyard Church of Grafton, WI
We had several people from our church complete the 1st year of Spiritual Direction training. It was a great experience for everyone involved! Each of them talked about the profound impact the cohort had for their own spiritual journey. Plus it equipped them with a valuable set of skills that we are excited about putting to use for the benefit of our whole church. Marty and Sandy Boller did an awesome job as cohort leaders; I highly recommend them and the School of Spiritual Direction. Pastor Pat Mulcahy, Vineyard Church of Grafton, WI
Marty & Sandy Boller