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Thinking the Faith, Praying the Faith, Living the Faith is written by the PC(USA) Office of Theology and Worship.

Thinking, praying, and living the faith is at the core of ministry in the Office of Theology and Worship. In the following videos, learn more about what thinking, praying, and living the faith means to the leadership of the Office of Theology and Worship. Discover why it matters and what difference it makes in our lives, work, and worship.  

Charles Wiley  
Barry Ensign-George
David Gambrell
Christine Hong 
Karen Russell

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December 3, 2010

Professionals and Conditioning

  A few Februaries ago I stayed in the same Indianapolis hotel as several National Football League hopefuls who were attending the NFL Scouting Combine—the place where future stars are evaluated physically through a series of drills and medical evaluations. How fast can you run 40 yards? How high and how far can you jump? How quick are you (not the same as sheer speed)? How many times can you bench press 225 lbs? In other words, what is your overall physical conditioning? Are your knees, shoulders and ankles injury-free? Never mind whether or not you can catch the ball with one hand in the corner of the end zone, or throw it there. If you are not in peak condition, and if you do not possess raw physical ability, your chances of making it—much less being in the first round draft picks—are marginal.

All professional athletes—and serious amateurs as well—simply must stay in shape physically. No one—not coaches, not team owners, not fans—tolerates the neglect of physical condition.

If professional athletes and serious amateurs are expected to be in top physical condition, by analogy we ought to expect those ordained to the offices of minister of the Word and Sacrament, and elders and deacons, to be in top theological and spiritual condition. Sadly, this is often not the case. Presbyterian Panel research in 1995 and 2006 bears this out. According to these survey results, the majority of Presbyterians (members and elders) say they don’t read the Bible very frequently; over half only hear it read… on Sundays, in the context of worship. While the data is somewhat more encouraging for pastors, it appears that approximately 75% of us mainly engage Scripture to prepare to preach, or teach. It leads me to wonder how many Presbyterians are simply listening to what God has to say to us through Scripture in any given day. Week. Month. I worry that it is not a terribly large number.

How did we reach the point where it has become a virtual expectation that pastors have to neglect their spiritual growth in order to “do our job?” (This is to say nothing of the spiritual recklessness of the majority of Presbyterian members, deacons or elders who admit to the regular inattention to Scripture!) Do we excuse our neglect of sustained engagement with Scripture because we are so busy with the concerns of ministry? Is it that we don’t have time to nurture a relationship with God because we are so busy serving the Lord? Admittedly, we are very good at what we do. The ecclesial equivalent of one-handed corner catches in the end zone. But over time we risk erosion of the very core of who we are as pastors. As Christians.  

Categories: Faith, Leadership, Spirituality , Theology