Practical Theology is theology from below. That is, practical theology is rooted in reflections about God’s activity in the world in real time. Eugene Peterson reminds, “Matter is real. Flesh is good. Without firm rooting in creation, religion is always drifting off into some kind of pious sentimentalism or sophisticated intellectualism.” (The Contemplative Pastor, p.68)
My all-time favorite chapter on pastoral work, The Subversive Pastor in The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction, long serves as a recognition that the care of the soul considers life in a different register. The work of the pastor includes subverting life as it is by pointing to life as it may be.
Pastoral ministry weights Peterson’s words. And, his works may be described in another of his books, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society. Today those who teach or influence pastors may provide great insight and timely challenges. They are often given from short tenures. Not so with Peterson.
Enter David E. Fitch. My introduction to David came at a time when I realized that pragmatics do not always, if even sometimes, obtain to leading for transformation. What works does not always indicate what changes.
Before David began teaching at Northern Seminary he was a pastor. Dave is Practitioner before Professor, and not just for six months time or as an interim. This matters.
During our conversation David noted this book has been in the process for some time. I am glad he finally got to it and finished. If you will take the time to pick it up and read it, you will be glad too.
There is more to a book than its title. But, remember, there is not less. Boyd Hunt taught us how to read a book in Seminary. He began with the title. Maybe you remember being grabbed by the title of a book at our favorite bookstore. The title of David’s new book, Faithful Presence, represents a life theme, call it a life metaphor. Working out what it means came long before the book’s inception.
I hope you will take the time to listen and head over and get yourself a copy of Faithful Presence: Seven Disciplines That Shape the Church for Mission. The content and theme struck me so that I suggested it as a theme for our church for 2017. It seemed to fit as a salve for our current cultural mood. What group would be better poised that the Church? Only, of course, it it holds on to a commitment to be God’s faithful presence in the world.
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