Wednesday, March 02, 2005

We're not in the "helping profession"

Online classic: I've been meaning for some time to mention a powerful article from Stanley Hauerwas and Will Willimon. In "Ministry as More Than a Helping Profession," Hauerwas & Willimon make a strong case for keeping worship, not psychological nurturing, at the heart of Christian ministry:
Parish clergy and seminarians today seem content to have ministry numbered among the "helping professions. " After all, most professing Christians, from the liberals to the fundamentalists, remain practical atheists. They think the church is sustained by the services it provides or the amount of fellowship and good feeling in the congregation. This form of sentimentality has become the most detrimental corruption of the church and the ministry.

Sentimentality is that attitude of being always ready to understand but not to judge. Without God, without the one whose death on the cross challenges all our good feelings, who stands beyond and over against our human anxieties, all we have left is sentiment, a saccharine residue of theism in demise. Sentimentality is the way our unbelief is lived out.
What a start, and it gets better from there. Even if you've read the article before, it's a tonic for so much of the foolishness that passes for Christian ministry.

6 Comments:

Blogger John said...

Milton, thanks for directing me to this article, wow! This is fantastic and a must read for every Pastor!
God bless you and yours!

2:58 PM, March 02, 2005  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

Glad you liked it, John. I agree that the article is a must-read. It's one I go back to periodically to keep from veering too far off course in the desire to meet needs.

3:06 PM, March 02, 2005  
Blogger Kevin said...

Amen! I've always appreciated Hauerwas and Willimon's critique of theraputic (sp?) models of ministry. Great stuff!

Kevin

3:59 PM, March 02, 2005  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

Thanks for your encouragement, Kevin, and thanks for visiting.

4:16 PM, March 02, 2005  
Blogger John Schroeder said...

Great topic Milt. I have posted some additional thoughts here

1:59 PM, March 03, 2005  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

Thanks, John.

6:29 PM, May 10, 2007  

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