Pardon me if I sound off a bit on my favorite theme:  Pastors need to take the time to read!  Before you remind me that you’re already swamped with reading and don’t have the time to take on more, let me make my case.

Weird ChurchIn the early 1980’s James Fowler wrote aa very significant book that he titled: “Stages of Faith”.  It was the first of several very helpful books paving the way for what we then came to know as “Faith Development”.  In later books he elaborated a bit and added the more familiar “Stages of Faith Development”.  Fowler basically laid out a scenario of how a mature Christian faith is achieved by passing through some observable and measurable stages of human growth.  His ideas were very helpful to me and through the years I’ve reflected on them often.  Jumping some 30 years to our world of today however, I’ve come to believe that we’ve somehow lost that emphasis and thus today our greatest task as pastors and lay leaders is to find better ways of keeping some of Fowler’s insights alive!  I think we are being compelled to see ourselves again as teachers, compassionate listeners and very brave theologians, ready and able to ask the important questions of life, for ourselves first and then as reflectors for those our parishioners are asking.  The journey of faith is exciting!  It has to involve questions and challenges leading to changed lives; and if we ourselves aren’t excited as we attempt to lead in this journey we’re probably not really engaging ourselves with the deeper questions of our own lives and culture.  With the world changing rapidly I believe “Faith Development” needs to be understood as a continuous and ongoing theme; for us as pastors and for our congregations.  As Pastors, I believe we need to encourage questions and provide forums for members of our congregations to ask all the questions they have ever wanted to ask, but were hesitant to ask for whatever reason.

This year we’re focusing on a book entitled ”Weird Church”, written by Beth Estock and Paul Nixon.  It will raise questions and push us to look closely at what we believe and teach as pastors.  It may even guide us toward some new ideas and in some different directions.  It should be a great book to read with others in a setting conducive to the sharing of ideas and experiences.  Join us!

As I did last year, I’ve again selected 4 locations geographically located around the state for everyone’s convenience.  Those locations include:  Iowa City, Presbytery Office in Iowa City; Fairfield; Marengo and Clinton.

Select the location most convenient for you to attend and then let me know you’re coming.  Get your book and then read the first several chapters prior to our first meeting.  We’ll meet monthly from October to May of 2017.

Warren Jensen