Pastoral ministry in the 21st century

Pastoral ministry in the 21st century
Pastoral ministry in the 21st century

Africa-Press – Namibia. A friend writes in a book that in his experience, the work of ministers can be best described as ‘hatching’ (baptisms), ‘matching’ (weddings) and ‘dispatching’ (burials). Of course, this is an oversimplification of what is

involved in ministry, although in some cases this is quite true. We have been arguing for a more diversified understanding of ministry that goes beyond pastoral ministry, ministry as inclusive of various possibilities, such as ministry among people in hospitals, people who have sought refuge and asylum in our countries ,and students in tertiary education. Pastoral ministry always happens in a cultural context.

Therefore, successful ministry requires an understanding of the worldview underlying the ways people think and view reality in the context. The ‘Post-modern world’ presents unique challenges for pastoral ministry because of its privatisation of all aspects of life; this leads to the challenges of faith and witnessing to Christ in a cynical world, and the challenges of orthodoxy versus liberalism.

Such challenges demand new ways and means of doing ministry; they are an invitation for self-introspection for those who seek to model the Jesus of history and

faith to a world characterised by extremism and moral decay. It is no secret that our everyday lives are characterised by rapid change and momentous complexities; hence, a sense

of uncertainty and anxiety characterises our present realities and increases our stress levels. In our daily interactions, we encounter this imporing new world order, characterised by a surge in secularism, indifference and

negation of primordial spiritual values. The question is, for those of us who are engaged in the pastoral ministry of the church, how are we responding to the challenges of our times?

How do we move forward towards making this world a loving and caring planet for creation? What kind of pastor do we need in such a society that has no value for God – a religion-less society?

Indeed, it matters how the gospel is presented today because God is not obsolete or dead in the world that scares us most. Therefore, we need to discover the pros and cons of

doing pastoral ministry in a postmodern world. In such a world, the ministry of the pastor must be visible and audible in speaking life to a hopeless world – just as Ezekiel was instructed by God to prophesy over these dry bones, and say to them ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord… Behold, I will cause breath to enter you and you will live” (Ezekiel 37:4).

Therefore, it is possible to minister and make disciples in our pessimistic world. It is possible to make the church even more relevant in the 21st Century – a broken and traumatised world that needs redemption from God, who created the world through His Word.

If religion is about meeting the individual’s needs, then that religion will not ensure the respect of moral and ethical values. The privatisation of religion leads to people “Believing without belonging” (Davie Grace, 1990:463). A private religion cannot lead to total obedience to the divine, but to mere self-aggrandisement

and self-assertion. Bauman (2014) argues that in the era of modernism, people were looking for theories that were always right, but in postmodernism, people merely wanted a theory that helped them at that time and in that place – nothing more. Not belief in God.

A postmodern minister of religion must look at this world and see people desperate for living waters in the context of pessimism and meaningless – just as the wise man argues, “Everything is meaningless in our world” (Eccles 1:1). The postmodern pastor must “arise and shine” – stand up to the loss of morals, and stand up to the death of ethical values. Stand up and re-create the new generation, characterised by fear and anger. In the context of the challenges posed by postmodernism is God not saying to you and me today: “My Grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (1 Cor. 12:9). A well-groomed minister of religion must view the 21st Century as a Kairos moment, an evangelistic opportunity never to be missed.

If we look carefully, we will realise that the 21st century is a duplicate depiction of the world in which Jesus lived and preached, hence the need to learn from the master – the author of a perfecter of our faith.

What is at stake today is that many postmodern ministers of religion want to find meaning in a ‘meaningless world’, instead of delivering redemption to the dying world. In fact, postmodernism presents a new reality and new mission dynamics – a great opportunity.

It is a new challenging reality that requires a new missional mindset. God wants us to make disciples here and now – called for such a time like this.

Understanding the spirit of postmodernity becomes important for those called to minister today. I would like to take a pause here in reefing to the true calling of what a true pastor must exemplify.

Here, I want to refer all of you to the example of Jesus Christ. He was a son of a pauper and He never indulged Himself in materialism and other heretical doctrines. What is needed today is a pastor who is daring to participate in an integral part of the Mission of God (Missio Dei) in people’s everyday world. This calls for a pastor who looks at our context as a mission field – just like Jesus did (Mathew 9:36-37).

We must respond to the evils of our times, which are threatening the primordial values of life and social order through cynical views and wayward lifestyles that have no regard for the common good.

*Reverend Jan A Scholtz is the former chairperson of the //Kharas Regional Council and former !Nami#nus constituency councillor. He holds a Diploma in Theology, B-Theo (SA), a Diploma in Youth Work and Development from the University of Zambia (UNZA), as well as a Diploma in Education III (KOK) BA (HED) from UNISA.

For More News And Analysis About Namibia Follow Africa-Press


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here