Pastor-Theologian

A Depression From Which You Cannot Run

No matter what you have been told, there are things you may not pray away. The Apostle Paul noted that he had prayed three times for a thorn in the flesh to be removed. It wasn’t. Three times may be a euphemism for over and over and over again.

“I’m a lifer,” Scott Curry. Pastor

New Year’s Day for many is a time to reset, restart. It provides the occasion to think about what could be better, different in the coming year. Disappointments and difficulties give way to possibilities, to potential. For many, though, New Year’s Day is none of that. According to research out of the U.K., New Year’s Day is the opposite for many.

My friend Scott Curry joins me for another conversation on Job. We had this discussion in September. I thought the episode was forever lost. After editing the podcast I am inclined to think it more timely today than then. You be the judge.

Scott has been pastor at the First Baptist Church, Gruver, Texas, for 23 years. His interest in Hebrew Wisdom Literature began long ago and has led him to his work on Job. Scott also suffers from depression. He noted that there is a depression away from which you cannot run. He talks about his own experience with depression through the lens of Job.

You Are Not Alone

Too often the Church has not known what to do with mental illness, mental health. Depression, for many observers, seems counter-intuitive to the claims of faith. Many have been wounded by the words of friends. “If you would just,” may begin many a well-intended word of encouragement. Empathy does not begin with what the sufferer needs to hear from the encourager. Most often that is simply protecting the encourager from facing his or her own internal questions.

If the Church has not known what to do with depression and the depressed, it surely is flummoxed when the pastor suffers depression. Fear and anger often result and no one is helped.

Pastor, or pastoral care provider, you are not alone. Listen, you are not alone. Should you need someone to talk with and are not sure where to turn, email me: doc.todd@gmail.com.

If you find the podcast helpful, share it with your friends. Share it with your pastor friends as well as folks you know involved in leadership that touches on the pastoral. Also, consider heading over to iTunes, login, search for patheological and give us a five-star rating and a kind review.

Disruptor(s) Needed: A Conversation with The Alan Noble

Business disruptors. Sports disruptors. How about Church disruptors?  The story is told of a pastor who, while preaching, noticed his son chewing gum. He is said to have stopped the sermon and instructed his son, “Paul, go spit out your gum!”

It Will Take More Than Gum

More than 50 years later, gum is the least likely disruption in a Sunday worship gathering. You have not lived until someone stands up and begins shouting at the preacher. It does not matter that the person was barely coherent. The experience is decentering.

Accelerated change in the cultural surroundings left, and leaves, churches with few options. Often it felt, and feels, a losing battle to other choices available to church-goers and potential attendees. Many have already identified the condition as a loss of privileged status. Christendom, as some refer to it, described the period when, for example, schools would not plan extra-curricular events on Wednesday evenings in deference to local church schedules.

Today, winning churches succeed, or so it seems when they market themselves as a positive lifestyle option. Christianity is not a lifestyle option no matter the marketing prowess. If Christianity has become one lifestyle option among many, how would a formerly radical message be renewed? 

Who Will I Send?

Not just a few theologies offer a critical analysis of Christianity as lifestyle option – Liberation Theologies, Womanist Theologies, Radical Theologies, and Radical Orthodoxy, to name a few. Dismissed by some as merely perspectivist theologies, voices from within these theological movements have identified the secularizing influences often missed by dominant culture theologies.

Who might help identify the trajectory that led us to the place where the Church, churches, seem as susceptible to secularizing forces it has so vocally battled? If you answer someone like Charles Taylor, then be prepared for pushback. Not many would wade through an 800-page tome like Taylor’s A Secular Age. More importantly, how would one appropriate the insights Taylor provides that result in descriptive phrases like buffered self, immanent frame and expressive individualism? Particulary how might the Church, churches, and pastors/leaders identify the ways discipleship to Jesus is affected by these trends?

The Definite Article

Enter Alan Noble, @TheAlanNoble. In his new book, Disruptive Witness: Speaking Truth in a Distracted Age, Alan answers the aforementioned questions for the Church, churches, and contemporary forms of Christianity. Pastors, this is a most helpful resource. It is not a cliff notes version of Taylor’s work, though you will find it an excellent introduction to Taylor’s assessment of the secularization hypothesis and its failing.

More than that, Disruptive Witness calls attention to the Church, and churches, as the needed disruptive witness for a world turned inward. Voices of hope are needed in a world represented by persons reduced to individuals that express themselves in hopes their chosen identity becomes the transcendent for which they long having been told truth resides within. Disruptive Witness calls the Church, and churches, to forego assuming themselves closed off to what Darrell Guder described as the Continuing Conversion of the Church.

Take a listen. Share the podcast. Buy the book. 

If you find the podcast helpful, share it with your friends. Share it with your pastor friends as well as folks you know involved in leadership that touches on the pastoral. Also, consider heading over to iTunes, login, search for patheological and give us a five-star rating and a kind review.


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