The Words of the Roberts Family
I wrote this back in 2006, as part of an application for a pastor's position in the church. Now, as we seek to reestablish the roots of our (Unification) church and discover what is true church leadership, I hope it might be meaningful.
Now is an amazing time, when thousands of years of sacrifice in God's providence have culminated in the Era after the Coming of Heaven. True Parents have assured us that renewed investment in ourselves, our church community, and the world beyond can bear fruit far beyond what we have experienced in the past. The ministry in this age should reinvigorate the passion we originally felt in our church, and help us realize the vision of True Parents by sharing our passion with others, but on a deeper, more confident and more loving level than we have been able to before. My vision for pastoral ministry is to align with this time in history, and work with the church community as it creates a spiritual home where God's sons and daughters can invest their hearts and recreate themselves as the children God intended them to be. It involves three interconnected aspects: ministering to existing members, reaching out to people not in our church, and creating an organization that supports, rather than hinders the first two goals.
In ministering to others, a successful pastor is not a dictator, but a person who inspires members to discover where God is calling them to serve and helps them develop spiritually so that their vision can become a reality. A good pastor is a facilitator, sometimes helping to smooth the way over the bumps of life, sometimes guiding people in overcoming fear and sin, sometimes acting as a peacemaker between sincere people that have different ideas. He or she is always looking for God's point of view towards each precious person and working to help others to see the same.
When a member is strong in faith, a good pastor encourages him or her to reach out to struggling members and give them a helping hand with compassion and not judgment. When someone is having a hard time, a good pastor listens to their story and coaches them towards developing a deeper relationship with God as a starting point of overcoming difficulty. When two people cannot get along, a good pastor helps them see beyond the current battle and see each other as God does, helping them to find common ground that each can embrace as they work together. A good pastor strives to bring out the inner beauty of each brother and sister.
A very important part of ministry is helping members build stronger and better families. In many cases, the first step in accomplishing this is to help members look deep into themselves and improve their own relationship with God. It is only as we make progress in accomplishing the first blessing that we can approach realization of the second blessing. We also need to learn how to express and receive love in the context of the family. Many of us came from families that fell far short of God's ideal, and practical training in family life can help us to overcome the habits and experiences of the past.
In outreach, the pastor encourages brothers and sisters to be a living witness to God's healing love, both within the church community, and in the broader community beyond the church. The first step is to help each member develop their own testimony of God's love and let it breathe in all aspects of his or her life. To reach out to others, the pastor encourages members to find places beyond the limited sphere of the church where they can serve, love, and inspire others to find their own way closer to God and join God's present work on the earth. This means encouraging members to step beyond their limited spheres of comfort, and touch the lives of those in the world around them. In my own ministry here in San Diego, I have found service projects and joining local community organizations as excellent ways to do this.
In uniting with the mission of the worldwide church, the pastor feels the urgency of God's providence and the sorrowful situation of God, and works hard to accomplish the providential mission. And yet he or she understands that the providence truly advances as the scars of thousands of years of fallen history are healed in each human heart, and works to create the conditions where each person can realize their destiny as a true son or daughter of God having fulfilled each of the three blessings in the realm of God's true love.
A church made up of many families can be a very lonely place, especially for new members. An important first principle for church organization is to encourage brothers and sisters to bind together in voluntary small groups that share similar interests and schedules. A good way to facilitate this is to delegate many of the missions and ministries of the church to groups of people who feel inspired to work together towards that area. While the pastor should monitor these ministries and guide them as required, as much responsibility as possible should be laid in the hands of the members. This creates ownership and a sense of belonging. Small groups, whether centered on a particular church ministry, or just common interests, should meet regularly to study, pray, and grow together. This is where much of the growth and inspiration of the members can occur.
The church belongs to all the members, and its organization should reflect this. The church organization should be practical, centered on accomplishing the goals of the church, acting as the servant of the church, and not its purpose. The church prospers only as its individual members have an ongoing relationship with the living God, and the church organization is useful only as far as it facilitates that experience.